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SEC Details Rules for Title III Crowdfunding Investors and Crowdfunding Investment Sites

31 Oct

The SEC’s final Title III Crowdfunding Rule (Regulation Crowdfunding) will enable individuals to purchase securities in crowdfunding offerings subject to certain limits, require companies to disclose certain information about their business and securities offering, and create a regulatory framework for the intermediaries facilitating crowdfunding transactions

Chair Mary Jo White Gives an Overview of Title III Crowdfunding Rules

Chair Mary Jo White Gives an Overview of Title III Crowdfunding Rules

By Robert Hoskins

SEC’s Title III of the JOBS Act 

On Friday, October 30, 2015, the SEC passed the final Title III Regulation Crowdfunding Rule that will allow the offer and sale of securities through crowdfunding.  The new rules will give small businesses an additional avenue to raise capital and provide investors with important protections.  If adopted, this would complete the Commission’s major rulemaking mandated under the JOBS Act.

Title III Crowdfunding Investor Rules

The recommended rules would, among other things, enable individuals to purchase securities in crowdfunding offerings subject to certain limits, require companies to disclose certain information about their business and securities offering, and create a regulatory framework for the intermediaries facilitating crowdfunding transactions.  More specifically, the recommended rules would:

  • Permit a company to raise a maximum aggregate amount of $1 million through crowdfunding offerings in a 12-month period;
  • Permit individual investors, over a 12-month period, to invest in the aggregate across all crowdfunding offerings up to:
    • If either their annual income or net worth is less than $100,000, than the greater of:
      • $2,000 or
      • 5 percent of the lesser of their annual income or net worth.
    • If both their annual income and net worth are equal to or more than $100,000, 10 percent of the lesser of their annual income or net worth; and
  • During the 12-month period, the aggregate amount of securities sold to an investor through all crowdfunding offerings may not exceed $100,000.

Under the recommended rules, certain companies would not be eligible to use the exemption.  Ineligible companies would include non-U.S. companies, Exchange Act reporting companies, certain investment companies, companies that are subject to disqualification under Regulation Crowdfunding, companies that have failed to comply with the annual reporting requirements under Regulation Crowdfunding during the two years immediately preceding the filing of the offering statement, and companies that have no specific business plan or have indicated that their business plan is to engage in a merger or acquisition with an unidentified company or companies.

Securities purchased in a crowdfunding transaction generally could not be resold for one year.  Holders of these securities would not count toward the threshold that requires a company to register its securities under Exchange Act Section 12(g) if the company is current in its annual reporting obligations, retains the services of a registered transfer agent and has less than $25 million in total assets as of the end of its most recently completed fiscal year.

In addition, all transactions relying on the new rules would be required to take place through an SEC-registered intermediary, either a broker-dealer or a funding portal.

Title III Crowdfunding Company Disclosures 

Companies that rely on the recommended rules to conduct a crowdfunding offering must file certain information with the Commission and provide this information to investors and the intermediary facilitating the offering, including among other things, to disclose:

  • The price to the public of the securities or the method for determining the price, the target offering amount, the deadline to reach the target offering amount, and whether the company will accept investments in excess of the target offering amount;
  • A discussion of the company’s financial condition;
  • Financial statements of the company that, depending on the amount offered and sold during a 12-month period, are accompanied by information from the company’s tax returns, reviewed by an independent public accountant, or audited by an independent auditor.  A company offering more than $500,000 but not more than $1 million of securities relying on these rules for the first time would be permitted to provide reviewed rather than audited financial statements, unless financial statements of the company are available that have been audited by an independent auditor;
  • A description of the business and the use of proceeds from the offering;
  • Information about officers and directors as well as owners of 20 percent or more of the company; and
  • Certain related-party transactions.

In addition, companies relying on the crowdfunding exemption would be required to file an annual report with the Commission and provide it to investors.

Title III Crowdfunding Rules for Portals

A funding portal would be required to register with the Commission on new Form Funding Portal, and become a member of a national securities association (currently, FINRA).  A company relying on the rules would be required to conduct its offering exclusively through one intermediary platform at a time.

The recommended rules would require intermediaries to, among other things:

  • Provide investors with educational materials that explain, among other things, the process for investing on the platform, the types of securities being offered and information a company must provide to investors, resale restrictions, and investment limits;
  • Take certain measures to reduce the risk of fraud, including having a reasonable basis for believing that a company complies with Regulation Crowdfunding and that the company has established means to keep accurate records of securities holders;
  • Make information that a company is required to disclose available to the public on its platform throughout the offering period and for a minimum of 21 days before any security may be sold in the offering;
  • Provide communication channels to permit discussions about offerings on the platform;
  • Provide disclosure to investors about the compensation the intermediary receives;
  • Accept an investment commitment from an investor only after that investor has opened an account;
  • Have a reasonable basis for believing an investor complies with the investment limitations;
  • Provide investors notices once they have made investment commitments and confirmations at or before completion of a transaction;
  • Comply with maintenance and transmission of funds requirements; and
  • Comply with completion, cancellation and reconfirmation of offerings requirements.

The rules also would prohibit intermediaries from engaging in certain activities, such as:

  • Providing access to their platforms to companies that they have a reasonable basis for believing have the potential for fraud or other investor protection concerns;
  • Having a financial interest in a company that is offering or selling securities on its platform unless the intermediary receives the financial interest as compensation for the services, subject to certain conditions; and
  • Compensating any person for providing the intermediary with personally identifiable information of any investor or potential investor.

Regulation Crowdfunding would contain certain rules that are specific to registered funding portals consistent with their more limited activities than that of a registered broker-dealer.  The rules would prohibit funding portals from, among other things: offering investment advice or making recommendations; soliciting purchases, sales or offers to buy securities; compensating promoters and other persons for solicitations or based on the sale of securities; and holding, possessing, or handling investor funds or securities.

The rules would provide a safe harbor under which funding portals could engage in certain activities consistent with these restrictions.  The rules also would require funding portals to maintain certain books and records related to their transactions and business.

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SEC’s Proposed Amendments to Approve Nationwide Intrastate Crowdfunding and Raise Limit to $5 Million for Small Business

31 Oct

SEC’s Proposed Amendments to Rule 147 and 504 to Facilitate New Intrastate Crowdfunding and the Sale of Regional Securities Offerings

SEC Staff Proposes Amendments to Rules 147 and Reg. D.,504

SEC Staff Proposes Amendments to Securities Rules 147 and Reg. D. 504

 By Robert Hoskins

 SEC’s Proposed Actions for Title III Crowdfunding

The Securities and Exchange Commission is considering whether to propose amendments to Securities Act Rule 147 and Rule 504 of Regulation D.  The proposed amendments would be part of the Commission’s efforts to assist smaller companies with capital formation consistent with its investor protection mission.

Proposed Title III Crowdfunding Amendments

Proposed Amendments to Rule 147

The proposed amendments would modernize Rule 147 to permit companies to raise money from investors within their state without concurrently registering the offers and sales at the federal level.  The proposed amendments to Rule 147 would, among other things:

  • Eliminate the restriction on offers, while continuing to require that sales be made only to residents of the issuer’s state or territory.
  • Refine what it means to be an intrastate offering and ease some of the issuer eligibility requirements in the current rule.
  • Limit the availability of the exemption to offerings that are registered in-state or conducted under an exemption from state law registration that limits the amount of securities an issuer may sell to no more than $5 million in a 12-month period and imposes an investment limitation on investors.

Proposed Amendments to Rule 504

The proposed amendments to Rule 504 of Regulation D would increase the aggregate amount of securities that may be offered and sold under Rule 504 in any 12-month period from $1 million to $5 million and disqualify certain bad actors from participation in Rule 504 offerings.  The proposed rules would facilitate capital formation and increase investor protection in such offerings.

 

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Crowdfunding PR Rolls Out 2-Month Crowdfunding Prep Work Program to Help Startups Learn How to Launch More Successful Equity & Rewards Crowdfunding Campaigns

29 Oct

The Crowdfunding Prep Work Program Helps Clients Amass a Large Crowd of Followers on Social Media and Utilizes PR to Generate Hundreds of Articles on Leading Edge News Outlets and Blogs

By Robert Hoskins

Austin, Texas – Want to learn how to launch a successful Title III equity crowdfunding campaign? To help crowdfunders achieve this elusive goal, today Crowdfunding PR announced a special two-month Crowdfunding Prep Work Program that will significantly improve a crowdfunding campaign’s success rate by amplifying its founder’s social media profiles and by utilizing an effective crowdfunding PR campaign to generate hundreds of stories in the electronic news media prior to the crowdfunding campaign’s launch.

Tips on How to Plan a Successful Title III Equity-based Crowdfunding Campaign Using Cost-Effective PR/Marketing Campaigns

Learn How to Plan a Successful Title III Equity-based Crowdfunding Campaign Using Cost-Effective PR, Marketing and Social Media Campaigns

Crowdfunding Social Media Campaigns

One of the biggest challenges that most crowdfunding campaigns face are weak social media credentials and the lack of a large group of social media followers that are needed to support crowdfunding campaigns with donations and/or investments. Building strong, professional Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter profiles and amassing the largest possible group of followers on social media networks is crucial to conducting a successful crowdfunding campaign.

Crowdfunding PR Campaigns

The second biggest task is generating stories on electronic news media outlets and blogs prior to launching a crowdfunding campaign. Not only can a well-orchestrated crowdfunding PR campaign generate hundreds of free, positive trade press articles to support the fundraising effort, but the same targeted, search-engine-optimized press releases will continue to drive new investors, potential customers and sales/distribution partners to the business long after the crowdfunding campaign ends.

“What many entrepreneurs and startups need to recognize is how important social media is in the world of crowdfunding,” said Robert Hoskins, Crowdfunding PR’s Director of Crowdfunding Campaigns. “The very first thing that an investor/donor does when they read through a crowdfunding profile they like is to look up the company and its team on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to check out their credentials. Having a strong resume on LinkedIn, lots of likes on Facebook and an army of followers on Twitter is crucial to determining the strength of the team and the likelihood that they have the tenacity and skill set to deliver on their crowdfunding campaign’s promises.”

“Next, most investors/donors will do a Google search to see what they can find online for both the company and its team members,” Hoskins continued. “With a two-month crowdfunding prep work campaign there will be several pages of search engine results that link to the client’s website pages, their social media posts/profiles and the crowdfunding campaign’s temporary landing page until the GoFundMe.com, Indiegogo.com,Kickstarter.com or Title III equity crowdfunding campaign goes live.”

Crowdfunding PR Campaign Consulting

If you would like to speak with a crowdfunding PR, social media and/or marketing expert regarding your crowdfunding campaign please call Robert Hoskins at (512) 627-6622 or fill out the contact form at: https://crowdfundingpr.wordpress.com/about-crowdfunding-pr-campaigns/ to setup a telephone consultation appointment.

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Robert Hoskins, a seasoned Front Page PR veteran provides more than twenty-five years of external communications, media relations, digital social media and SEO skills to Front Page PR’s crowdfunding PR and media relations service portfolio.
(512) 627-6622
@Crowdfunding_PR


Mr. Hoskins is a seasoned marketing veteran with a proven track record of helping entrepreneurs, startups, small businesses as well as Fortune 500 corporations launch successful marketing communications campaigns to gain market traction for a wide variety of products and services.
Hoskins is one of the crowdfunding industry’s foremost crowdfunding advocates and has amassed a huge social media following that is dedicated to supporting donation-, rewards- and equity-based crowdfunding campaigns. Due to the overwhelming demand from the general public for crowdfunding information, he empowers entrepreneurs with some of the internet’s most affordable ($20) online crowdfunding training classes, which provide insight to startups around the world on a 24 x 7 basis.
Hoskins adamantly believes that the crowdfunding industry will empower everyone in the United States to rediscover the possibility of living the American dream with a little hard work, a great business idea and the dedication to researching, planning and launching a well-thought-out crowdfunding campaign. He consults on a regular basis with crowdfunding campaign managers as well as crowdfunding sites, portals and platforms to deliver successful crowdfunding marketing campaigns.

Onevest Sets $2 Million Self-Crowdfunding Record; Uses Funds to Hire Top Talent

22 Aug

Financial technology company currently operates one of the leading startup investing marketplaces with over 80,000 entrepreneurs and 15,000 investors registered

By Robert Hoskins

New York City, New York – Onevest announced that reached $2M in financing for its Series A round after self–crowdfunding on its own platform.   The financial technology firm launched the 506c offering to celebrate the implementation of Title IV of the JOBS Act. In one month alone the company has been able to close what would normally take on average between 4 to 8 months in the offline world for a tech startup of its size.

New Equity Crowdfunding Platform, OneVest, Creates One-Stop Shop for Investors Seeking Startups in the United States

New Equity Crowdfunding Platform, OneVest, Creates One-Stop Shop for Investors Seeking Startups in the United States

The company is currently operating one of the leading startup investing marketplaces with over 80,000 entrepreneurs and 15,000 investors registered.

Onevest has a unique approach, as it captures deal flow at the formation stage via its cofounder matchmaking property site, CoFoundersLab, which gives Onevest six months to one year in advance to build the relationship with the company before the entrepreneur is ready to seek a round of financing. Via CoFoundersLab, Onevest is onboarding over 2,000 registered entrepreneurs to its ecosystem every month.

“Today we have put a dent in the universe by changing the game of fundraising online. We are lucky and honored to be part of an industry that is revolutionizing what has been an old and outdated model that clearly needed a healthy disruption,” said Onevest’s Executive Chairman Alejandro Cremades.

The company is already putting the capital to work as it has hired a new CFO, Barry Shereck. Barry has more than 30 years of experience in financial management with early stage companies and has taken four companies public.

Onevest also announced the hire of Erica Duignan as the Head of Deal Flow to hone in on bringing high quality startups on its marketplace and to build a world-class team of venture associates. Erica is joining Onevest from the renown accelerator program Dreamit Ventures, where she was a Managing Director focused on company recruiting, fundraising and developing investor relationships.

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Illinois Governor Rauner Signs New Intrastate Equity Crowdfunding Bill into Law

21 Aug

New crowdfunding legislation means more available capital forIllinois entrepreneurs and small businesses, resulting in more Illinois jobs being created by these entrepreneurs and small businesses

By Robert Hoskins

Chicago, Illinois – Governor Rauner has signed intrastate equity crowdfunding into law.  This new vehicle for raising capital empowers the small business community by allowing business owners and entrepreneurs to raise capital from a large number of people.  In exchange, investors receive a small equity interest in the business.

Illinois Equity Crowdfunding Intrastate Exemption

Illinois Equity Crowdfunding Intrastate Exemption

“Intrastate equity crowdfunding can be a game-changer for the small business community, it will allow business owners and entrepreneurs to invest in, and empower one another.  Many states, including Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan, have already passed legislation allowing companies to raise money in this way.  Passing this legislation has ensured Illinois businesses are able to compete on a level playing field with those in neighboring states,” said Elliot Richardson, Small Business Advocacy Council, CEO.

The SBAC and a coalition of chambers and business groups spearheaded a grass-roots effort to bring intrastate equity crowdfunding to Illinois.  Through the power of critical mass, the small business community worked with legislators and moved this important legislation.  “This is a tremendous step forward for Illinois small businesses and entrepreneurs. This will mean more available capital forIllinois entrepreneurs and small businesses, resulting in more Illinois jobs being created by these entrepreneurs and small businesses,” said attorney, Anthony J. Zeoli of Freeman & Peters LLP.

State Rep. Carol Sente, D-Vernon Hills, issued this statement, “As Co-Chair of the Small Business Owners Caucus in Springfield and primary bill sponsor, I’m thrilled Governor Rauner signed our Crowdfunding bill!  I know the business community has been anxious to see this legislation passed.  It has been a sincere pleasure to work with the SBAC on this and other measures over the years.  Illinois has so much to offer small businesses and today marks a milestone in finding new ways for small businesses to raise capital.”

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Crowdfunding PR Raising Money via Wells Fargo Project Work to Build the Very 1st Equity Crowdfunding Co-Working Space, Incubator, Accelerator and Training Facility Center in Austin, Texas

22 May

Click on this image to vote YES for our Crowdfunding Coworking Incubator Accelerator Training Facility

Click on this image to vote YES for our Crowdfunding Co-working Incubator, Accelerator and Crowdfunding Training Facility on Wells Fargo’s Work Project Contest for Small Businesses

Show our crowdfunding campaign some love by clicking here and simply voting “Yes,” and then share this story with your friends on social media. Your one vote will help us WIN!

  By Robert Hoskins

Austin, Texas – Front Page PR’s 2015 Mission is to teach local communities how to buy distressed properties such as vacant warehouses and strip malls and invest a little bit of money to turn these properties into crowdfunding co-working spaces where entrepreneurs and startups can congregate and dream up new product/service ideas.

The Wells Fargo Works Project for Small Business

The Wells Fargo Works Project for Small Business. Please Click to Vote YES!

Utilizing co-working spaces, Front Page PR can teach startups via crowdfunding training classes how to use a new finance tool called “Equity Crowdfunding” to raise the sufficient seed capital needed to setup a business, transform their creative ideas into prototypes, pay for the very first manufacturing production run, and then convert these companies from fledgling startups into successful revenue generating machines.

Equity Crowdfunding was legalized in 2012 by the JOBS Act. By October 2015, the SEC should release the final Title III equity crowdfunding rules. Startups will then be able to use General Solicitation market their investment opportunities to over 180 million non-accredited investors throughout the United States. The result? Leading finance experts and venture capitalists agree that the crowdfunding industry will grow quickly into a $300 billion per year industry.

The biggest marketplace challenge is that 99% of the population is unaware of crowdfunding and will need to be trained on how to invest in new startups and how to raise money using equity crowdfunding campaigns. Our crowdfunding classes are complete, but the biggest problem we face is how to pay for an actual crowdfunding training facility, converting it into a co-working space, staffing it with experts, and then marketing the facility to the general public.

We would like to spend the $25,000 Wells Fargo prize to start the process of setting up a Crowdfunding Incubator/Accelerator facility for small businesses and utilizing it over the next two to five years to teach people how to use crowdfunding sites to raise seed investment capital. The business model should fund itself in less than 12 months based on monthly co-working memberships alone, but we need enough money to get things started.

Our Incubator will provide a directory of crowdfunding experts that mentor entrepreneurs/startups on how to use donation-based or rewards-based crowdfunding to raise enough money on sites like GoFundMe.com, Kickstarter.com, or IndieGoGo.com to get a business up and running. Our crowdfunding training classes will show startups the step-by-step process of how to conduct successful crowdfunding campaigns.

Our Accelerator will provide a directory of legal, finance and securities experts that will help businesses take their companies to next level by selling equity shares or debt in their company to investors to raise even more money. The investor training classes will show new, non-accredited investors how to vet deals and ride the coattails of super angels by utilizing investment syndicates.

Once the Incubator/Accelerator is established and producing successful startups, we plan to license the business model so that others can replicate this crowdfunding training business template anywhere in the United States, providing a tremendous boost to the US economy.

Why launch a Crowdfunding Training Center? After serving as the Director of Corporate Communications for several Fortune 50 companies, I was bitten by the entrepreneurship bug and jumped off the corporate ship in 2001.

Since then I have thrived on the joy of building industries one small company at a time and the love for sharing my accrued knowledge gained from a vast array of B2B industries, international sales & distribution channels and working with media organizations to maximize publicity.

My track record includes building a broadband wireless industry in 2001 with the Broadband Wireless Exchange Magazine, an Arizona solar industry in 2009 with the Arizona Solar Power Society and I have been working for the past three years on building a crowdfunding industry with Crowdfunding PR to score a hat trick in 2015 when the SEC approves the title III equity crowdfunding rules.

Please support our fundraising campaign to build the 1st Crowdfunding Co-Working Space, Incubator, Accelerator and Training Center in Austin, Texas. Click here and vote yes!

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Want to help us build a Crowdfunding Training Center?

Wells Fargo Announces Four-Point Plan to Expand Credit Coaching Programs and Offer $75 Million in Investments, Grants and Micro-Lending for Small Businesses in the U.S.

21 May

To help business owners learn how to obtain credit, as well as better understand the reasons for a decline and learn how to prepare to reapply, Wells Fargo has launched a new Credit Coaching program

  By Robert Hoskins

San Francisco, California – To gain more insight into the experiences of diverse business owners in the areas of lending and operating their businesses, Wells Fargo commissioned Gallup to conduct a national study of small business owners. Today, as Gallup releases the findings (on Gallup.com), Wells Fargo is announcing a four-point plan to address needs identified in the study. The plan will help more diverse small businesses become credit-ready and gain access to credit. The Gallup survey included findings of business owners in six segments – African American, Asian American, Hispanic, LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender), military veteran, and women.

Please click on this banner to vote yes for Crowdfunding PR's business plan to open up Crowdfunding Training Facilities Nationwide

Please click on this banner to vote yes for Crowdfunding PR’s business plan to open up Crowdfunding Training Facilities nationwide in tandem with co-working spaces, incubators and accelerators

“Serving diverse communities has long been a focus area and priority for Wells Fargo, yet we know there’s more work to be done, and it starts with gaining a deeper understanding of the experiences of diverse small business owners working with financial institutions,” said Lisa Stevens, head of Small Business for Wells Fargo. “For this reason, we commissioned the Gallup study, which gave us new insight into the perceptions and experiences of diverse business owners working with banks, and how we can improve as a company and as an industry.”

Overall, the national study revealed there are more similarities than differences between small business owners in all diverse segments and those in the general population. It also shows specific areas in which the financial services industry can provide more support for diverse business owners.

Credit Coaching Program

In the Gallup survey, diverse-owned small businesses were more likely to respond that they have been declined for business credit – about one in five African American, Asian and Hispanic business owners said they faced a credit decline in the past (14 percent of general market respondents said they faced a decline). After being declined, a higher percentage of African American business owners (64 percent) said they did not apply for credit again than their peers in the general small business population (47 percent). African American (14 percent) and LGBT (15 percent) business owners also reported greater personal credit challenges than the general market (5 percent).

To help business owners learn how to obtain credit, as well as better understand the reasons for a decline and learn how to prepare to reapply, Wells Fargo has launched an enhanced Credit Coaching program. It offers expanded support to business owners who have been declined business credit. The phone-based program has been rolled out to small business owners who apply for Wells Fargo Business Direct credit products (primarily credit products under $100,000 sold through its retail banking stores). Business owners who use the program will be connected with a credit specialist who will review the business’ credit profile, explain why the business was declined credit, and share resources that can help the business strengthen its credit profile and improve the likelihood of being approved for business credit in the future.

In addition, while the majority of business owners surveyed across all segments said they did not feel a perception of discrimination from a financial institution impacted their chances of obtaining business credit, 22 percent of African American and 11 percent of LGBT business owners reported that perceived discrimination impacted their chances of obtaining credit for their business, compared to 5 percent of the general small business owner population. The Credit Coaching initiative will be one way Wells Fargo will further increase transparency of credit decisions and facilitate conversations that build trust with all customers.

“We take pride in the fact that diversity and inclusion has long been one of our core values in every aspect of our business, and at every level of our organization,” said Stevens. “We want to make sure all customers feel welcome, respected, understood, valued and appreciated. The actions we’re introducing today are the next steps for Wells Fargo to better serve and connect with diverse-segment business owners.”

Community Development Financial Institutions Investments, Grants

Another key finding in the Gallup study is that African American, Asian and Hispanic small business owners are more likely to be in the start-up and growing stages of their business, compared to the small business population in general, and as a result may not qualify for many conventional bank loan products. In addition, 49 percent of African American-, 47 percent of women- and 45 percent of LGBT-owned businesses in the survey reported annual business revenue of less than $50,000, compared to 36 percent of small business owners in general.

To help newer, smaller and start-up businesses access the appropriate business financing and support they need, Wells Fargo will extend $50 million in investments and $25 million in grants to organizations called Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) that serve small businesses and entrepreneurs. The investments and grants will be directed to CDFIs that help small businesses get started and established by providing flexible capital and technical assistance. Wells Fargo will work with existing and new CDFI customers in diverse communities across the country to deploy this capital and measure its impact.

“We know that in order to address the range of financial needs within all of our communities, we need to support and work with the ecosystem of organizations that serve small businesses,” said Jon Campbell, executive vice president, government and community relations for Wells Fargo. “Through this increased investment and connections with community lending organizations, we are making meaningful strides toward increasing access to capital for small businesses, as well as helping more business owners get the coaching and educational resources they need to succeed financially long-term.”

Nationwide Referral Network

In the Gallup study, more African American, Asian and Hispanic business owners reported they were unable to obtain all the credit they needed in the past year than the general business owner population, yet the majority of small business owners in all diverse segments said they did not need credit in the last year. At the same time, nearly one in four African American, Hispanic and Asian business owners plans to apply for credit in the next 12 months, higher than the general small business owner population planning to pursue credit (15 percent). Businesses in the startup and growing phases in general expressed more intentions to apply for new credit.

To ensure business owners are aware of and accessing the full range of financing options available to them, Wells Fargo recently established referral relationships with more than 20 nonprofits and other lenders in cities across the country that are participating in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Community Advantage program. Participants in the SBA’s program specialize in providing hands-on guidance to small businesses and offering credit to qualifying businesses in underserved markets. Wells Fargo, the nation’s No. 1 SBA lender 7(a) in dollar volume for six consecutive years (U.S. SBA data, federal fiscal years 2009-2014), established these relationships with the intent of providing small business owners with an additional financing solution that may better meet their lending needs.

Chamber Training Institute

On the topic of business education, the Gallup study showed that African American, Asian and Hispanic business owners were more likely than business owners in the general population to be extremely or very interested in learning how to build a strong business credit application, choose a credit product, and develop a business plan. To meet this demand, Wells Fargo is supporting a Chamber Training Institute that trains leaders of diverse-segment chambers of commerce on key business and leadership topics for their members, such as how to access business credit and craft strong business plans. This cross-chamber initiative builds on Wells Fargo’s strong working relationships with chambers nationwide that specifically serve and represent African American, Hispanic, Asian American and LGBT business owner interests.

“There’s no single answer to the challenges reflected in the study, just as the challenges facing all diverse-owned businesses are broader than any one financial institution can address,” Stevens said. “As America’s leading small business lender, we have a responsibility to do more. We believe the steps we’re taking will make a difference, help us foster more lifelong relationships, and move us closer to our goal of helping every business we serve succeed financially. We want to contribute to a national conversation, involving the public and private sector, industry stakeholders and small business owners, about how to better support small businesses in every community.”

Additional Gallup study findings

Other key findings in Gallup’s industry study included:

  • Only about half of small business owners say they have ever borrowed money for their business, including the general population of small business owners (50 percent), Asian (53 percent) and Hispanic (51 percent) segments, while the percentage of African American business owners who have used credit (42 percent) is somewhat lower.
  • African American (21 percent) and Hispanic (18 percent) business owners were more likely than their counterparts in the general population (10 percent) to be in the startup phase.
  • Nearly half of Asian-owned business owners (49 percent) said they were in the growing phase of their business, a higher percentage than the general population of small business owners (37 percent). Also, 38 percent of Asian-owned businesses reported annual revenue of $250,000 or more, compared to 22 percent of businesses overall.
  • A higher proportion of veteran-owned businesses (24 percent) reported being in the winding down phase – preparing to retire, sell or transition their businesses – than small business owners in general (15 percent).
  • Just 9 percent of women business owners reported plans to apply for new credit in the next 12 months, compared with 20 percent of men surveyed.

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Why Every University and College Should Develop a Rewards-based or Equity-Based Crowdfunding Ecosystem

18 Mar

Crowdfunding platforms can be used to support research & development, transfer technology, protect IP, build co-working spaces and finance incubators and accelerators to launch new startups

 By Robert Hoskins

 Austin, Texas – The purpose of this equity crowdfunding article is to encourage universities and colleges to begin thinking about how schools and students might benefit from:

The Need to Build a Crowdfunding Ecosystem

There is a new generation of “Millennials” that do not want to go to college due to the poor economy and because they do not want to start their life as young adults by incurring $50,000 or more in college loan debt. And there is a growing concern for many students that there may not be a job waiting for them when they finally graduate. 

Read more:  What is Crowdfunding?

But what if there was a way to attract more students by convincing them that they could work their way through college by researching, planning and then launching their own business while earning their college degree? This would allow some certainty about their career path and teach students how to put a lot more money in their pockets than working for a large corporation that will stick them in a cubicle for the rest of their life.

Entrepreneurship Centers

For this reason, “Entrepreneurship Centers” are becoming a huge draw for students who do not want to work for a living, but instead want to live for working. That means learning how to build new startups from the ground up.  Entrepreneurship Centers usually start with a co-working space, then adds a business incubator with mentors to guide students through the startup process and when budget permits, accelerators are created to help students raise money from angel investors, accredited investors and sometimes venture capitalists.

Co-Working Spaces for Startup Companies

The biggest challenge for incubators and accelerators are the costs associated with building a 25,000 sq. ft. co-working space, paying mentors salaries and finding experienced executives with great track records that are willing to share their wisdom and industry experience with students. There is also resistance from departing from the “old school” way of transferring technology from a university Research & Development laboratory, protecting the intellectual property and then utilizing a licensing or royalty revenue model to realize short-term deals to provide a revenue for the college or university. 

JOBS Act: Nationwide Equity Crowdfunding

Enter the 2012 JOBS Act, General Solicitation and a new Equity Crowdfunding alternative financing tool that can help startups raise seed investment capital to startup new businesses. While the SEC and NASAA seems hell bent on preventing the national guidelines from ever being released (they are three years past the official deadline mandated by President and the United States Congress), approximately 14 states such as Texas, Michigan, and Georgia have passed their own Intrastate Equity Crowdfunding Exemptions. Add to that another 15 states have a Crowdfunding Exemption in progress.

Map of U.S. States that approved Intrastate Equity Crowdfunding Exemptions

Map of United States that have approved Intrastate Equity Crowdfunding Exemptions

Source: CrowdfundingLegalHub.com

Intrastate Equity Crowdfunding Exemption

In states where intrastate equity crowdfunding is legal, any trade school, college or university can build an equity crowdfunding platform and use it to begin fundraising campaigns to raise money, not only from Angel Investors and Accredited Investors, but also from the general public who are non-accredited investors.

Read more: What is an Intrastate Equity Crowdfunding Exemption?

This means anyone can take a brilliant idea, create a business plan and investor deck to support the business case, build an online equity crowdfunding profile and then use marketing campaigns to advertise the deal to millions of potential investors. Like any e-commerce site, Investors can then visit the equity crowdfunding sites to shop for deals by minimum investment amount, by products or services or by vertical business segment to find deals they want to invest in.

This means that a college or university can build an equity crowdfunding site and use it to raise money for every one of its R&D programs and streamline the entire technology transfer process so that promising technology can be transformed into startups businesses. The school collects a certain percentage from each crowdfunding campaign called a platform commission fee. For a $1 million raise and 10% platform commission fee, a college could collect a $100,000 fee from each campaign. This money could be used to fund co-working spaces, incubators, accelerators and Entrepreneurship Centers.

Creating Equity Crowdfunding Investment Syndicates

By the SEC’s securities law, a crowdfunding platform’s management team or employees cannot invest in equity campaign hosted on its own site unless they are registered broker dealer with the SEC. But a popular trend that is growing is building a college or university equity crowdfunding investment syndicate. An investment syndicate is usually led by one or more Super Angel Investors, who are seasoned veterans that have been investing in startups for 20 to 30 years and completely understanding the process of vetting deals with due diligence and understand the real risks of investing in startup companies.

Novice accredited investors with little investment experience join the investment syndicate so that they can follow or invest along side the Super Angel Investors. In addition, where it is legal, investment syndicates will pool a large pool of non-accredited investors together, who make small investments, into a single LLC and then invest the group’s money similar to how a venture capitalist invests money on the behalf of others.

Adopting an Equity Crowdfunding Ecosystem

For colleges and universities that adopt an equity crowdfunding business model might, it might completely change the way a school recruits, raises money, builds relationships with alumni and earns revenue by seeking long-term equity stakes in their students startups versus short-term licensing and royalty agreements.

Read More:  Top 100 Crowdfunding Sites in the United States

Launching an equity crowdfunding platform would not just increase a school’s earning potential, but they might dramatically change the manner in which that Millennials are taught. Instead of just course work, students would be taught at an early age to begin to engage with the world around them and plot a course for their own future destiny rather than relying on fate. Some Millennials might reject the idea of going to college, but the lure of becoming a successful entrepreneur and launching their own business while earning a college education has the potential to create one of the most vibrant and thriving economies the world has ever seen.

Even students that do not start up their own companies have an outstanding chance to benefit from the equity crowdfunding business model. All students seek a way to get some type of real world work experience usually by working as free or highly underpaid interns. Imagine the learning benefits that student would receive when applying their desired major’s education such as business administration, finance, legal or marketing to the intense equity crowdfunding process of launching a startup company.

Instead of adding a bullet point for working a menial job as a small cog in the corporate machine as an intern, students just might be fortunate enough to work on several successful crowdfunding campaigns that would highlight their professional expertise such as business planning, structuring equity finance deals marketing, PR, video production, and/or copy writing. And if the sweat equity pays off in equity crowdfunding shares, they might become extremely wealthy when that startup goes public a couple of years after they graduate. This is how many, many Silicon Valley millionaires got their start. They just did not have a term for the process, which is now branded as equity crowdfunding today.

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Understanding the Best Type of Crowdfunding Site to Support a College or University Campus

16 Mar

What’s the Best Type of Crowdfunding Platform to Serve a College or University Entrepreneurship Center, Co-Working Space, Incubator or Accelerator Program?

By Robert Hoskins

Understanding the Crowdfunding Funding Process

The first step in building a crowdfunding business model is to understand the various forms of crowdfunding and at what step of the business creation process each should be used.

This crowdfunding infographic is a good representation on each step of the business creation process from the business idea, generating revenue, validating marketplace demand, expanding operations and maturing into a fortune 500 company.  It also shows what type of crowdfunding is usually best to fund startups and each step of the business’ evolution.

The Crowdfunding Escalator by CrowdSuite  Shows the  Different Types of Crowdfunding

The Crowdfunding Escalator by Crowdfund Suite Shows the Different Types of Crowdfunding

Source: CrowdfundSuite.com


Donation-based Crowdfunding
– At kitchen tables, dinner parties, happy hours and dorm rooms around the world many brilliant ideas are born and discussed for the very first time. Once an idea has been pitched and vetted among friends and family and it begins to gain momentum toward the first step of crowdfunding, Donation-based Crowdfunding, which is used to scrape enough money together to begin building a business plan to figure out how much it will cost to bring a business idea to fruition and/or develop at one or more prototypes. Donation crowdfunding sites make it easy to collect money for new creative ideas as well as expand the crowdfunding campaign’s reach from just family and friends to a global audience of potential supporters.

Most donation-based crowdfunding sites are usually built to provide fundraising activities for campaigns that do not offer any rewards or perks.  They are also used to support non-profit causes.  Donations to 501(3)(c) are tax deductible and can be written off at the end of the year.  

Most universities will only build donation-based crowdfunding sites that can be used by students and faculty to collect money by students and faculty for a wide variety of projects including college educations, scholarships, research and development, campus improvements and all kinds of not-for-profit endeavors. Crowdfunding can be used for very small fundraising efforts to raising millions of dollars from alumni, foundations, institutional investors and corporate sponsors.

Donation-based crowdfunding sites will make it easy for anyone to search for, discover, research and fund their favorite pet projects on their alma mater’s campus.

Rewards-based Crowdfunding – Surprisingly enough 90% of people in the world still are not familiar with the term crowdfunding. Mention Kickstarter or IndieGoGo and most people do recognize the brand name and know its purpose and have heard of popular crowdfunding campaigns such as Oculus, Star Citizen, Coolest Cooler and the return of the Pebble Time SmartWatch.

Rewards-based campaigns are used to take ideas, concepts and prototypes to the next level. They are used in a similar fashion to how typical marketing campaigns are used to support product/service launches and rollouts with an added twist.

People with ideas build a crowdfunding profile, shoot a crowdfunding pitch video and build a list of up to 20 perks or rewards that are pre-sold to raise enough money to develop a prototype or pay for the very first manufacturing production run.  Not only do rewards-based crowdfunding campaigns validate industry demand, but they allow businesses to test market various product versions, colors and price points to gauge public interest. More importantly, they help startups generate their first revenue by pre-selling their products and services in order to raise enough money to get the business started. Gaining this type of market traction is very important to angel investors because it shows that there is an audience of people who are willing to pay for the company’s products and services. 

The best way for universities and colleges to cut their teeth on the crowdfunding business model is to launch a rewards-based crowdfunding site, which usually collects a 5% commission on the crowdfunding campaign’s total amount raised. That may not sound like much but since 2009, Kickstarter alone has raised $1.6 billion, which at 5% means $80 million over 5 years in gross revenue or an average of $16 million per year that could be used to fund a wide variety of college/university projects.

Not only are crowdfunding platforms a good source of revenue, but with the right marketing resources crowdfunding campaigns have the potential to raise a huge amount of marketplace awareness for the university’s projects, business development goals, research and development labs and technology transfer programs. All at no cost to the university because the crowdfunding campaign managers are the ones that spend money to market their crowdfunding campaign to the world.

The other reason to consider launching a rewards-based crowdfunding program is that they are easy and do not fall under the jurisdiction of the SEC or state securities board regulators because no securities are being sold. For new startups it also means that raising money does not involve selling any equity shares or giving up any control of the company’s administration.

Rewards-based crowdfunding campaign commissions can also be used by colleges/universities to establish co-working spaces and to fund college incubator and accelerator programs. Co-working spaces with at least 25,000 sq. ft. can generate millions of dollars per year in additional revenue from rent and mentorship programs.

It is important to note that rewards-based commissions combined with co-working space revenue can provide millions of dollars in seed investment capital to begin funding the next step in the process, equity-based crowdfunding sites, where schools, students, faculty and alumni can become equity investors in new startups.

Equity-based Crowdfunding – Setting up equity-based crowdfunding websites will allow schools to play the role usually enjoyed by Angel Investors, Venture Capitalists and/or Broker-Dealers. They will allow students to raise money for startups by selling debt, such as convertible notes, or selling equity shares for a certain percentage of the company to raise enough seed investment capital to produce prototypes, fund early manufacturing runs, setup distribution agreements and hire manufacturer representatives. 

Other types of equity crowdfunding involve sharing 20% of the gross profits with investors or making royalty payments on a per item sold basis until the investors receive a 3x to 5x payback on their initial investment.

Investing in startups is a risky business, but with the right education and building a small group of experienced Super Angel investors to follow, a large group of novice accredited investors can invest smaller amounts of money along side seasoned experts with a proven 25-30 year track record.

In states like Texas, Michigan, Georgia and 11 others non-accredited investors can also pool their money together to purchase equity shares of stock. This is something that has been illegal for the past 80 years, but intrastate crowdfunding exemption laws are now allowing average people to begin investing in startups just like angel investors and venture capitalists.

The aggregation of novice accredited and non-accredited investors are known as Investment Syndicates, which is the process of following expert investors.  This allows students, faculty members and the general public to learn the equity investment business and enjoy the benefits of being an insider when a great business idea is transformed from a startup company to an Initial Public Offering (IPO).

For example, a $300 investment for a single share of stock and pair of Oculus virtual reality goggles would have paid investors a return on investment of $45,000 when Facebook bought the company for $2 billion dollars.

Equity-based crowdfunding is much more complicated than rewards-based crowdfunding due to the stringent requirements needed to meet the SEC and state securities board regulatory requirements.

Unlike rewards-based crowdfunding, equity crowdfunding provides a great opportunity for business administration, legal and finance students to get hands-on experience writing business plans, structuring deals, protecting intellectual property (IP) and planning real world product/service launches that are part of every single equity crowdfunding campaign.

Working alongside experienced angel investors and venture capitalists is also a great way for students and faculty to learn the finance industry from the inside out.

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Equity Crowdfunding Provides Colleges and Universities with Easy Access to Early Stage, Seed Round Investment Capital

15 Mar

How Colleges / Universities Can Provide Easy Access to Seed Investment Capital with Equity Crowdfunding Platforms

By Robert Hoskins

Providing Easy Access to Investment Capital 

Providing easy access to seed investment capital is a great way to encourage the creative thinking of young innovators. When money is hard to get, there isn’t much point in trying to be creative. But when students realize that there is a better than average chance of putting together a good business plan and actually being able to raise money to fund their ingenious ideas, Equity crowdfunding will serve as the catalyst that stimulates economic development.

The payoff for students, faculty and universities can be tremendous. It only takes a couple of home run investments to generate a billion dollars in revenue when one of their startups is purchased or takes their company public.  

If you look at the current crop of Angel investors, the large majority got their start by working for a company that went public. Once entrepreneurs strike it rich, they want more.  They don’t cash out and retire.  They reinvest the $10 million they earned into a new pool of startups to help them achieve the same success.  This is what most people mean by mentors.

Successful entrepreneurs love to share their success stories with the next generation. The most important step is to create the first wave of entrepreneurs even if it means a small town in nowhere Texas has to pay Angel Investors and Venture Capitalists from California and New York for their consulting services to get the ball rolling.  All it takes is a small college, smart professors, a few successful investors, a Rewards or Equity-based crowdfunding platform and a team of marketing experts that understand advertising, email marketing, PR and social media.

One company that creates a 1,000 millionaires has the capability to investment up to a billion dollars back into the next round of startups. This is precisely how Silicon Valley was built. For colleges/universities that decide to add an Equity-based Crowdfunding ecosystem, it has the potential to start a huge investment domino effect that will result in a wide-spread, long-term return-on-investment for universities, its faculty, their students and the community around them.

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