Michelle Mone, a bra tycoon and baroness, is delving deeper into cryptocurrency after offering luxury apartments in Dubai to buyers with bitcoin.
Along with Doug Barrowman, a businessman who also happens to be her boyfriend, the pair is launching a venture capital firm that is supported by the launch of their own cryptocurrency via what is known as an initial coin offering (ICO), or a token sale.
Equi Capital is attempting to raise $125m (£89m) from investors that can then be utilised to support innovative companies that are chosen by the pair. The Equi token is ethereum-based. It can also be traded separately in the same manner as other cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.
The duo says that the said platform will open up venture capital investing to anyone who is interested.
“For the first time, everyday people, non-industry professionals, will have the change to back an investment that usually they only get to hear about in the media after the event,” Barrowman said.
“Crowdfunding is very good at raising smaller sums of money. The beauty of Equi is that it’s linked to a cryptocurrency, which has a value in it’s own right, and the value is underpinned by the quality of the investment’s we make.”
The investors who opt to simply to hold on to their tokens will also be rewarded with five percent of the profits that are realised from the gains from the investment. The investors who make use of their tokens to finance companies are promised 70 percent. The founders will hold 35 percent of the issued tokens and will receive the remaining share.
Mone was able to secure fortune, fame, and a seat in the House of Lords through her Ultimo lingerie business. She said that the pedigree of the pair and their high-profile names brings with it the trust that is missing in several of the various ICOs that have popped up during recent years.
Mone stated: “This is why it’s going to be one of the most successful ones when it launches.” She added that she expects that the Equi token will be listed on the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges.
The founder of MyVoucherCodes turned investor, Mark Pearson, is also involved in Equi as an advisory board member. He bought Ve Interactive, a UK startup, with Barrowman out of administration in 2017. Morten Tonnesen, the boss of Ve, is also one of its several advisors.
The pre-sale is set to begin in March initially for those who are placing $100,000 into the venture which the couple have been working on since summer of last year. The investments will concentrate on early-stage biotech and high tech companies from across the globe when the said platform launches in May following the ICO.
While doubts continue over the integrity of various ICOs, which have raised billions to date collectively, venture capitalists who are already established are eyeing up investments in the companies which have opted to raise funds this way.
Silicon Valley luminaries such as Sequoia Capital, Benchmark, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers are among those that are said to be linked with the ICO of a WhatsApp-like messaging app called Telegram. And a partner at the most active fintech investor Index Ventures of Europe, Jan Hammer, has said that he would not rule out investing through an ICO.