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Architects Turning to Crowdfunding to Save Stalled Real Estate Projects

6 Feb

By Robert Hoskins

Crowdfunding, the practice of investing in projects through the use of a crowd-supported web based fundraising campaign, shows significant promise for attracting investors to smaller real estate projects and getting them off the architect’s drawing board, according to a report issued today by the American Institute of Architects.

According to the white paper, “Crowdfunding Architecture,” the increasingly popular tool is being used to leverage dedicated internet fundraising websites to spur community support and financing for an assortment of infrastructure ventures that would ordinarily have difficulty finding money due to their smaller size.

The report, compiled for the AIA by massolution, inc., concludes that “donation-based crowdfunding” holds the most potential as a financing tool for beleaguered developers and architects. According to massolution’s May 2012 “Crowdfunding Industry Report,” the amount of money generated by crowdfunding was close to $1.5 billion in 2011, of which almost half was raised via donation-based crowdfunding.

That’s because the donation-based crowdfunding campaign model relies not on providing tangible returns for its success, but rather the enthusiasm of a local community for causes such as covering an individual’s medical expenses, political campaigns or community projects that would otherwise require municipality or government funding for completion, the report concludes.

For the architect, who is often the primary catalyst for new projects and construction, the crowdfunding concept holds special promise. Usually architects’ role in funding projects is limited. But crowdfunding increases the role of architects in the funding cycle by providing investment models and communications tools for a broad array of self-selected projects, from pedestrian bridges to urban skyscrapers, the report notes.

“Crowdfunding Architecture” details specific examples where crowdfunding has already had an impact in providing financial support for community projects that were too small to get started with traditional financing methods. Click here to download a database of AIA’s stalled projects.

CircleUp Explored: Crowdfunding Insight from Co-Founder, Rory Eakin

6 Feb

by 

I had the pleasure to sit down with Rory Eakin, co-founder and COO of CircleUp. Rory gave a wealth of insight into the pioneering equity crowdfunding model him and his team have built to fund underserved companies in a targeted industry vertical (emerging growth consumer product and retail companies).  I’ve distilled and summarized key themes below for convenience, but the full interview offers far more depth. So make sure to carve out 20 minutes to give it a view.

Currently only open to accredited investors (as legislation permits), CircleUp is a front-runner in the investment crowdfunding space. It’s one of a handful of platforms “crowdfunding” (personally defining as executing transactions entirely online) from accredited investors today; to date eight companies have raised a total of ~$7.5 million on CircleUp’s platform.

I’ve paid acute attention to CircleUp because (i) it has traction, i.e. data exists, and (ii) i’m a big believer in the merit its crowdfunding model is proving out. Broadly, it couples domain expertise and curated partnerships with technology to efficiently and transparently deliver high-quality, shepherded deal-flow to investors. It’s a model championed by many other platforms—e.g. RealtyMogul and Fundrise attacking real estate—and I have no doubt it will be applied to nearly many other industry verticals in time. It just makes tremendous sense; on so many levels.

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