By Freya Berry
LONDON (Reuters) - British tennis player Andy Murray has ventured into crowdfunding.
The world No.2 has made three investments of an undisclosed sum on London-based crowdfunding platform Seedrs, as the sector that allows large numbers of people to invest small amounts of capital to finance a business venture continues to move into the mainstream.
Murray has invested in healthy eating chain Tossed, which has already raised more than its 750,000 pound ($1.17 million)target. He is also investing in 3D virtual reality shop builder Trilennium, which is backed by online fashion retailer ASOS, and in e-commerce investor Fuel Ventures, Seedrs said on Wednesday.
"The three businesses I've chosen to kick off my crowdfunding investment portfolio are all in areas of industry I find interesting. Healthy eating is something I have to be passionate about as a sportsman, so Tossed was immediately one to consider, and the other two businesses are really pushing the boundaries of technology," Murray said in a statement.
"I'm hoping that I can learn something from how they are edging ahead of the competition and take that vision onto the court with me."
Murray, who became world No. 2 on Sunday after beating top player Novak Djokovic at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, joined the Seedrs advisory board in June.
He becomes the latest celebrity to catch onto crowdfunding.
Platforms like Kickstarter in the United States, which unlike Seedrs does not offer equity to investors, have found backers in Hollywood stars including Sylvestor Stallone, Zach Braff and "Family Guy" creator Seth McFarlane as a way to finance independent films via fans, outside the studio system. Indiegogo, another platform, has attracted high-profile investors such as Virgin Group founder Richard Branson.
The alternative finance market, which includes peer-to-peer lending and invoice trading as well as crowdfunding, has grown rapidly in the past decade. It is predicted to reach 4.4 billion pounds by the end of 2015, according to figures from innovation charity Nesta and the University of Cambridge.
Crowdfunding, while a small portion of that market, has grabbed attention, partly because of the well-known businesses becoming involved, from Sony to Scottish ale producer BrewDog. Would-be investors can put as little as 10 pounds into businesses in return for a stake.
In a world of low interest rates and lack of bank financing for small businesses, the industry has mushroomed despite concerns that most start-ups end in failure, and that many of those participating are not experienced investors.
($1 = 0.6383 pounds)
(Reporting By Freya Berry; Editing by Susan Fenton)