My role is changing

The times, they are a-changin’ in the PledgeMe office. Last year, we raised an investment round and hired a bigger team to position us for growth both in New Zealand and as we launched in Australia. Now, we’re changing my role too.

I co-founded PledgeMe seven years ago, and as the company has evolved so have I (and so have my hair styles). I started by bringing a bit of marketing and community focus to the business while I wrote my thesis on starting crowdfunding in New Zealand. Once I finished my thesis (A-, thank you very much), I dived even deeper into the business side of PledgeMe. In 2013 I started leading PledgeMe on my own.

Since then, I appointed our first external Board, raised our first external round of investment, helped us through the licensing process to become New Zealand’s first (equal) licenced equity crowdfunding platform, and worked with so many amazing founders and businesses in New Zealand (and now Australia).

And that last bit, that’s the bit I love. That’s the bit I excel at. Helping people raise money through their crowds. Especially diverse founders who get the value in growing their businesses with their crowd.

In the last few years, I’ve had to focus more and more on regulation. And technology. And HR. And finance. The list keeps growing. I can do all these things (well, to a point; my coding hasn’t progressed past HTML), but they’re not where I add the most value.

Things are busy. We now have 12 fabulous humans working to grow PledgeMe — across sales & delivery, support, technology, marketing, finance, design, and compliance. We grew our dollars pledged through the platform to successful campaigns 20% again last calendar year. With our launch into Australia, we’ve hosted our largest ever campaign, raising AUD $2.1 million in November 2018. But we believe that hasn’t even scratched the surface of what is possible.

It definitely won’t be possible if I keep having to juggle the day-to-day management with growing this exciting new way of raising capital. I won’t be focused enough and I’ll burn out.

So, I met with the Board to discuss this, and we’ve decided to bring in our Chair, Mel Templeton, to act as an interim CEO as we work out what we need on the leadership front. Is it a CEO? Is it a General Manager? Is it a Chief of Staff? We’re figuring this out, and we’d love your thoughts on what you’ve seen work well, as a founder-led company scales.

The cool thing is, my self-given title of Chief Bubble Blower still stands true. It must mean something that I held on to it for so long, despite some calls to change it. This is what I want to be doing, marketing this inclusive form of capital raising in New Zealand and Australia. Supporting more campaigners to do things a bit differently, with their crowds.

There’s often a fear with founders, that we need to cling on to the control of our babies. I believe our vision is strong enough, and our team is capable enough, for me to let someone else be at the helm of this ship for a while. This might be a permanent move, or we might decide to bring in different support as we grow. I can still keep us accountable to our impact (social, environmental and financial) while helping more Australians and New Zealanders get ready to do things a bit different, with their crowds.

Please join me in welcoming Mel in as our interim CEO, supporting our team in their growth, and celebrating the next steps we’re taking to truly democratise capital.