In 2007, Symbid's founders Robin Slakhorst and Korstiaan Zandvliet met while studying Entrepreneurship & New Business Venturing MSc at Rotterdam School of Management. They have stated that witnessing classmates fail to start their own businesses post-graduation due to a lack of funding was the main inspiration behind Symbid.
Between 2007 and 2010 Zandvlliet and Slakhorst coordinated a fiscal-legal structure allowing non-accredited investors to invest online in start-ups and small businesses. While a number of crowdfunding platforms began to appear online from 2006 onwards, these were associated with creative projects and rewards or donation-based crowdfunding. Few countries had introduced formal equity crowdfunding legislation at this time. Symbid was founded in April 2011 as one of the first equity crowdfunding platforms worldwide.
Symbid was formally incorporated in Utrecht, the Netherlands, as a cooperative entity (Coöperatie) in accordance with Dutch law. A cooperative structure means Symbid is able to complete investment transactions online and store invested capital in a separate third-party (trust) account as an electronically stored monetary value (e-money). As of March 2015, Intersolve, a company operating under license as an electronic money institution and supervised by the De Nederlandsche Bank and the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets, was responsible for managing this trust account.
In November 2011, Symbid was granted the Shell LiveWIRE 2011 Audience Award alongside a cash prize after receiving 40% the online vote.
During 2012 Symbid established itself as one of several platforms in the rapidly expanding European equity crowdfunding industry.
Symbid became involved in coordinating Dutch crowdfunding legislation at this time, in addition to co-founding initiatives aimed at improving transparency and platform standards within the equity crowdfunding industry. These initiatives include the Crowdfunding Accreditation for Platform Standards (CAPS) in conjunction with Crowdsourcing.org and the European Crowdfunding Network (ECN), a Europe-wide organisation involved in policy discussion and public opinion-building. Symbid is also a member of EBAN, the European Trade Association for Business Angels, Seed Funds and Early Stage Market Players.
Between 2011 and 2013 Symbid grew in size, hiring campaign managers to assist entrepreneurs in their equity crowdfunding efforts. In October 2012, Forbes named Symbid as one of the companies most likely to profit from the pending legalization of equity crowdfunding in the United States in accordance with the U.s. JOBS Act.
From 2012 onwards, Symbid has maintained ownership interests in several affiliated companies, including Gambitious Coöperatie U.A. and 12% of Gambitious B.V.—the Dutch divisions of crowd funding and video game publishing company Gambitious Digital Entertainment, the online business valuation tool Equidam, and the initiative funded by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, which operates a tool which enables entrepreneurs to present critical business information to investors in a standardized format, namely Kredietpaspoort, through its parent company, Symbid Corp.
On December 6, 2013 Symbid, through its parent company Symbid Corp., acquired a public listing in the United States on OTCQB Markets. As of July 2014, Symbid became one of the first publicly traded crowdfunding platforms worldwide. In addition to going public, Symbid Corp. conducted a private placement offering (PPO), raising a gross total of (US)$2,926,695. In accordance with this public listing, Symbid Corp. opened offices in New York City, United States.
In February 2014 Symbid introduced a new user interface to its crowdfunding platform. Early 2014 saw Symbid feature several high-profile campaigns on its equity crowdfunding platform including Greendaddy which raised $333,960 (€245,000) in 47 hours in May 2014, setting a new record for the Dutch crowdfunding industry. Other prominent campaigns included the Archimedes - a wind turbine research and development company. - and Bidroom, a hotel booking platform on which hotels bid directly for guests.
Symbid relocated to its current headquarters in the Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship in the Rotterdam Science Tower in March 2014.
Later in 2014, Symbid signed a cooperation agreement with A-Film Benelux, whereby Symbid will fund upcoming Dutch movie titles including ‘De Surprise’ from Oscar-winning director Mike van Diem. In September of that same year, Symbid announced its equity crowdfunding platform had passed the €5 million funding milestone.
Symbid and financial advisory firm Credion signed a partnership agreement in December 2014, creating the largest Dutch online funding platform by transaction volume. The partnership sees Credion using the Symbid platform to connect its nationwide network of investors and entrepreneurs, combining alternative and traditional sources of funding. Credion Director Carlo van der Weg described the partnership as “streamlining the way in which entrepreneurs find that crucial investment." Although not revealed at the time, this partnership was the precursor to the launch of The Funding Network in March 2015.
In March, 2015, Symbid relaunched its website and rebranded as Symbid, The Funding Network. Previously an equity crowdfunding platform, as of March 2015 Symbid began offering other financial products and services for start-ups and small businesses including financial advice, monitoring and traditional and alternative financing options. In addition to a redesigned website, Symbid released a new monitoring product based on XBRL data.
As of March 2015, Symbid claims to have connected 30,000 private (crowdfunding) investors and 40 institutional investors to The Funding Network, plus other online funding platforms active in niche industries, such as FarmersFunding. Following the launch, on 24 March Symbid and Economic Board Utrecht (EBU) announced a partnership to provide local, sustainable initiatives with loan capital via The Funding Network. EBU has committed $1 million in growth capital to entrepreneurs on The Funding Network in 2015.
Symbid announced the incorporation of Symbid Italia on 10 March 2015, in partnership with Gruppo Banca Sella. The launch of Symbid Italia represents the first international expansion of the Symbid equity crowdfunding platform. Although connected to The Funding Network, Symbid Italia will function purely as an equity crowdfunding platform. Marco Bicocchi Pichi, Italian Business Angel of the Year 2014, occupies the role of Managing Director. The partnership between Symbid and Gruppo Banca Sella involves Symbid's use of the banking group's payment solutions, banking services and network. In 2016, Symbid Italia was deemed economically inviable and on April 29, 2016, a shareholders meeting determined to liquidate Symbid Italia.
In 2014 and 2015 Symbid reported low turnover ($267,358 and $282,155 respectively) and a net losses of $2,821,794 (2014) and $2,299,275 (2015). In April 2015 the complete non-executive board of directors resigned in what Symbid reports as a "differences with remaining management concerning the Company’s strategic direction". Also in April 2016 it was reported that Symbid made their development team redundant. More losses of $2,005,751 in the first half year of 2016 "raise substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern". On October 12, 2016, the remaining three directors decided to reduce their salary to zero,"retroactive to August 1, 2016". They also stated that "the company is investigating the options available for further cost reductions.".
At the same time, Symbid will have to apply for a license as investment firm under the MiFIDto continue our equity based crowdfunding activities as required by the Dutch AFM, the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets, for all equity-based crowdfunding activities.