Byline: Nic Frances Gilley, Co-Founder and Chairperson, DC Power Co
Here at DC Power Co, crowdfunding is all about power. It’s not just the power of having funds, it’s the power of being owned by a collective of over 12,500 regular Australians, and the power of being able to build a new kind of company that plans to take on an outdated energy industry dependent on fossil fuels.
DC Power Co was launched in April last year with the world’s largest equity crowdfunding campaign for the launch of a business. We raised $2.2 million from just over 12,500 investors (the largest before us was in the United States and had less than half the number of investors). To put it perspective, we are a start-up with more individual investors than most ASX listed companies.
So what does this mean exactly? Well, it means that regular people can invest in companies that they believe in. It means investment is democratised.
Democratisation is a bit of a buzzword at the moment, but for good reason. Consumers are sick of being under the thumb of big corporates. They want transparency, accountability and honesty in the companies behind the goods and services they buy.
Crowdfunding, which is still just less than two years young in Australia, is a way for consumers to demand these things for as little as a $50 investment. It aligns perfectly with businesses that are trying to do something different and trying to democratise their industries – whether that’s energy, banking or fashion.
In our first year we created a company to serve solar households, a segment that was being overlooked by the big energy companies because of their vested interests.
We provide a connection to the grid, support them to get the most from their solar system and cut their bills. We also have a cutting edge online buying experience for getting solar and a battery. We essentially provide service, where everyone else just provides just a bill.
Now, we’re taking the next step with our second crowdfunding campaign, and we’re taking on the big energy companies with a home renewables alternative to fossil fuels. We’re asking regular Australians to join us in saying no to coal and gas, and say yes to unlocking the latent resource that is sitting in 2 million solar rooftops across the country (and the additional 3 million rooftops that could have solar).
We’re in a world where big energy companies are purposefully slowing down action on climate change to maximise profits from their coal and gas assets, where we know they charge the highest prices to those that are their most loyal customers, and spend millions in advertising and lobbying to ensure the market benefits them and not those who want to be apart of the home renewable revolution. Crowdfunding is the antidote – the starting place to build trust and share in the benefits of being in it together.
So it comes back to power. We’re trying to put the power back in the hands of consumers. But it’s not just about that – we’re doing something different, and that means getting in on new technologies and ideas, getting our customers and investors to help us test things and to figure out what really works for them. This will help steer our future in the right direction, and ensure that we create a company that stays true to its mission.
Crowdfunding is most valuable when you are doing something that people care about and where you have the ability to tell those people honestly, what you are doing.
At DC Power Co we really care about this world and the impacts of climate change. We believe that the home renewables revolution will be a big part of the solution to reduce emissions. We also know that to have an impact, we must grow fast and we need the community to help us do that.
It’s not an easy way to raise funds, but it feels honest and true to DC Power Co. That’s why we’re in it.
Nicolas Frances Gilley MBE is the Co-Founder and CEO of DC Power Co and a Councillor for the City of Melbourne.