"The crisis forced me to shut down my take-away food shop. In four months I haven't been able to sell it, and I thought I might turn it into a pizzeria, but for that I needed 30,000 euros. I put an ad in Socios Inversores [Investor Partners] and found someone interested in putting up that sum, in exchange for half of the business," says Francesca Ragano, an Italian woman who has been living in Barcelona for nine years.
Several people joined forces to bring money-raising website Socios Inversores into being: Javier Melero (a historian), Manuel Adámez (a computer programmer) and Javier Villaseca (a marketing specialist). The three sought to create "a tool to help those who want to set up or enlarge a business, but who need an economic boost to do so," says Villaseca. "In the present economic situation, the banks are lending money only under prohibitive conditions. On the other hand, there are people with savings who would like to invest them in projects they consider interesting."
Turning ideas into reality
With this premise in mind, and 10,000 euros lent by relatives and friends, these Madrileños launched their portal (www.sociosinversores.es) in February. "We used the initial money to make our debut through Google AdSense," says Villaseca. This is the only medium in which it has been advertised, and with good results: last month the site had 17,000 unique users, and now the trio have some 200 company projects, nine of which have attracted possible investors to turn them into reality.
Socios Inversores attempts to be a "matchmaker" between entrepreneurs and capitalist partners. "Anyone with ideas for an enterprise can post ads for free in the portal, explaining what the project is about, how much money is needed, and what is offered in exchange: a percentage of the company, a job, etc." Thus they are building a virtual show-window of potential businesses. "Here, people who have savings find business opportunities."
Socios Inversores then makes the actual contacts. Villaseca says that "the possible partners do not commit themselves through the web. They only make what we call a share reservation. When the entrepreneur has got one or more investors disposed to back him with the quantity he wants, we put them in contact. They talk and decide on the conditions, to see if they finally make the link or not."
This share reserve is where the business of Melero, Adámez and Villaseca lies. "When there are one or more investors who are prepared to put up the necessary money, we charge them 0.1 percent of the input they wish to make. That is, if a entrepreneur wants 50,000 euros to open a shop, and calls for 5,000 euros of shares, when there are enough people to make up the sum, we charge them 5 euros each." If the project fails to attract enough investment, Socios Inversores does not charge the commission.
Here ends the work of the portal. The rest is up to the interested parties.