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Tag Archives: Co-Working Spaces

FinMason Launches Fin-Tech Accelerator Program that Provides Startups with Free Access to Investment Analytics

29 Jun

The FinSpring accelerator is a six-month program for start-ups that share a mission of educating investors / advisors in order to help them make better investment and retirement planning decisions

By Robert HoskinsCrowdfunding PR

Boston, Massachusetts – FinMason, a Boston-based FinTech and investment analytics firm, is helping industry start-ups overcome one of the biggest challenges faced during the development stage – accessing high quality investment analytics. The firm announced the launch of FinSpring, an initiative that will provide free access to FinRiver, a set of flexible and lightning-fast investment analytics APIs.

Finmason - Institutional Grade Analytics that Investors Actually Understand

Finmason – Institutional Grade Analytics that Investors Actually Understand

“FinTech start-ups face tremendous competition in the marketplace and pressure from their investors to quickly achieve their business goals,” said Kendrick Wakeman, CFA, CEO and founder of FinMason. “We feel that many start-ups and potential start-ups are held back because of the time and expense of building robust analytics platforms. FinSpring lets smart entrepreneurs put analytics anywhere in their product with just a simple API call, leaving them free to focus on prototyping, getting to market and solving consumer problems.”

The FinSpring accelerator is a six-month program available to start-ups that meet four criteria: share a mission of educating investors or advisors to make more informed investment and retirement planning decisions; operational less than two years; under $500,000 in revenue; and, have raised no more than $1 million in funding.

Wealth technology start-ups accepted into the FinSpring program will have access to more than 700 analytical data types, including risk and performance metrics, aggregate factor exposures, scenario analysis and stress testing.

“Part of the strength of the APIs is their simple structure,” said Bob Leaper who runs the FinSpring program at FinMason. “You send us a simple API call containing a list of securities, a list of their weights in the portfolio, and a string of request codes telling us what analytics you want. We then perform the calculations, package the results into a JSON object, and send it back to you. Usually, we do this in under 21 milliseconds. That instantly puts a start-up on even ground with the biggest firms in the world.”

FinMason is a Boston-based financial technology and investment analytics firm dedicated to providing tools that help financial advisors and their clients move forward with confidence. FinMason’s cutting-edge platform analyzes millions of global investments and delivers institutional-grade analytics at scale via three core products:

  • FinRiver provides financial technology platforms with robust analytics and proprietary data sets via lightning-fast APIs;
  • FinScore Pro provides financial advisors with a quick, intuitive and uncomplicated risk assessment tool that systematically develops a mutually understandable, bright-line agreement on risk from each client and prospect; and
  • FinScope provides compliance teams with a way to screen through each client portfolio every night with robust analytics to detect problems before they become problems.

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


Mr. Robert 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.
On a regular basis, Mr. Hoskins consults with crowdfunding campaign managers as well as crowdfunding sites, portals and platforms to deliver successful crowdfunding marketing campaigns.
Google search “Robert Hoskins Crowdfunding” to see why Mr. Hoskins runs one of the industry’s foremost crowdfunding PR, social media and marketing agencies that has amassed a huge social media following and is dedicated to supporting a wide variety of donation, rewards and equity crowdfunding campaigns.
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Front Page PR Rolls Out Turnkey PR/Media Relations Service Portfolio for Franchises, Construction, Home Services (Solar & Energy Efficiency), Industrial, Manufacturing, and High-Tech Companies

12 Jun

For less than $5k per month, this leading public relations, social media and marketing firm will help startups, existing companies and corporations generate more website traffic and increase monthly sales

By Robert Hoskins

Maryville, Tennessee – Seeking a leading edge PR firm? Whether your company needs help generating publicity for a franchise’s Ripley’s Believe It or Not event or would benefit from generating positive PR publicity for a business-to-business (B2B) home service company that installs solar, saves money with home energy audits or offers HVAC tuneup services to help homeowners save money on monthly energy bills, Front Page PR can provide a cost-effective, turnkey growth-hacking marketing program for around $5,000+tax per month.

Front Page PR Rolls Out Turnkey PR/Media Relations Service Portfolio for Franchises, Construction, Home Services (Solar & Energy Efficiency), Industrial, Manufacturing, and High-Tech Companies

Front Page PR Rolls Out Turnkey PR/Media Relations Service Portfolio for Franchises, Construction, Home Services (Solar & Energy Efficiency), Industrial, Manufacturing, and High-Tech Companies

Front Page PR’s team of marketing experts can help growing companies write press releases, develop online press rooms, build social media networks, plan a digital advertising program, write search engine optimized blog pages for content marketing, generate precise databases of vertical B2B media contacts, write effective media pitches, build media relationships with the management team, find trade show panels discussion for subject matter experts to speak at and harvest email addresses for carefully-tailored email marketing programs. An excellent price for a full portfolio marketing services that is hard to beat and represents one of the most cost-effective deals in the B2B marketing industry.

“One of the most challenging decisions that most small companies face is hiring their first marketing consulting firm,” said Robert Hoskins, Front Page PR’s Director of PR and Media Relations. “Regardless of whether it’s a small startup seeking to gain market traction, a small business that wants to expand their existing business operations or a large corporation that is seeking merger and acquisition partners, our team of seasoned media relations experts can help any business move mountains with words and sway public persuasion with positive trade publication and business media interviews.”

“The average rate that most PR firms charge clients is $10,000 to $20,000 per month or $60,000 to $240,000 per year. The metric or question that all firms need to measure when evaluating their PR/media relations budget is, ‘Is my PR firm capable of generating at least $1 of media publicity for every $1 I spend on their PR consulting fees?’ ” Hoskins continued. “With that said, if a company can find a PR firm that can generate a 300% return-on-investment (ROI) for a budget of $60,000 per year, that’s equivalent to hiring three professional, seasoned marketing professionals, and/or receiving a minimum of $300,000 in positive, credible media exposure. Not many firms can deliver on this expectation, but our team can.”

Have an interest in learning more? Please give Front Page PR a call at (512) 627-6622 to learn more and to receive a free 30-minute review of your website, your social media credentials and an off-the-cuff review of what first steps might be taken to generate more website traffic, produce more business leads and how to help your sales team close deals on more new business. Front Page PR wants your business and is willing to work hard to earn your business, complete with a great ROI.

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Contact:
Robert Hoskins
Front Page PR
(512) 627-6622

OurCrowd, Motorola Solutions, Reliance Industries, and Yissum Launch Incubator, Accelerator to Give Jerusalem Startups a Competitive Edge

12 Jun

OurCrowd’s Incubator and Accelerator will focus on emerging startups using ‘frontier technologies’ including: big data, analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), fin-tech, storage, internet of things (IoT) and computer vision

By Robert Hoskins

Jerusalem, Israel –  OurCrowd Incubator announced new partnerships with Motorola Solutions, Reliance Industries and Yissum, to operate an innovation technology incubator to support growth of early stage startups in Jerusalem. With a long track record of startup investment in Jerusalem, and as a key player in the Israeli tech ecosystem, OurCrowd is a natural fit to lead the incubator team. The incubator will focus on frontier technologies such as big data, analytics, AI, fintech, storage, IoT and computer vision.

OurCrowd, Motorola Solutions and Reliance Industries Launch Israeli Incubator, Accelerator to Give Jerusalem Startups a Competitive Edge

OurCrowd, Motorola Solutions and Reliance Industries Launch Israeli Incubator, Accelerator to Give Jerusalem Startups a Competitive Edge

The incubator will be based in OurCrowd’s Jerusalem headquarters, located in the JVP Media Quarter campus, founded by MK Erel Margalit. OurCrowd will lead the incubator consortium together with partners Motorola Solutions (NYSE: MSI), Reliance Industries (NSE: Reliance) and Yissum Technology Transfer Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

In less than five years, OurCrowd has invested over $440M into 120 companies and eight funds. After vetting more than 6,000 companies and celebrating 13 exits, OurCrowd continues to lead the global equity crowdfunding sector for accredited investors, and make it one of the most active Venture Capitalists in the vibrant Israeli startup scene.

Jon Medved, OurCrowd’s CEO said, “We are proud to be strengthening the Jerusalem tech-ecosystem together with strong partners such as Motorola Solutions, Reliance Industries and Yissum. This represents a unique team with a global reach, incredible scale, and with deep technological, commercial and academic roots. We expect to invest in close to 50 companies over the next 10 years and further grow the formidable cadre of Jerusalem startups.”

The incubator will be part of the world famous Israeli incubator program administered by Israel’s National Innovation Authority (formerly the office of the Chief Scientist).

Eduardo Conrado, Executive Vice President, Strategy & Innovation Office, for Motorola Solutions said, “In today’s technology environment, strong partnerships and strategic investments help accelerate innovation. The Jerusalem incubator is one element of our Israel innovation hub, which is focused on developing advanced solutions in artificial intelligence, cyber security and other fields. We are proud to be part of this important project and look forward to working with OurCrowd, Reliance and Yissum on the future of public safety technology.”

“Reliance Industries is excited to further its long-term commitment to Israel by partnering with Israel Innovation Authority jointly with OurCrowd, Motorola and Hebrew University for the Jerusalem Incubator,” said the spokesperson from Reliance Industries Limited. “We are confident of Israeli start-ups offering unique value proposition by delivering next-gen digital services. We believe the incredible technological innovation from Israel will gain immensely by addressing the huge Indian market riding on the nationwide 4G LTE digital infrastructure setup in India by Jio. This will be a significant win-win for both India and Israel.”

OurCrowd is the leading global equity crowdfunding platform for accredited investors. Managed by a team of seasoned investment professionals and led by serial entrepreneur Jon Medved, OurCrowd vets and selects opportunities, invests its own capital, and brings companies to its accredited membership of global investors. OurCrowd provides post-investment support to its portfolio companies, assigns industry experts as mentors, and takes board seats. The OurCrowd community of almost 20,000 investors from over 112 countries has invested over $440M into 120 portfolio companies and funds. OurCrowd already has thirteen exits to date, two IPO’s and eleven acquisitions.

Motorola Solutions (NYSE: MSI) creates innovative, mission-critical communication solutions and services that help public safety and commercial customers build safer cities and thriving communities. Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) is India’s largest private sector company, with a consolidated turnover of $ 50.9 billion and net profit of $ 4.6 billion for the year ended March 31, 2017. RIL’s activities span hydrocarbon exploration and production, petroleum refining and marketing, petrochemicals, retail and 4G digital services.

Yissum Research Development Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Ltd. was founded in 1964 to protect and commercialize Hebrew University’s intellectual property. Products based on Hebrew University technologies that have been commercialized by Yissum currently generate $2 Billion in annual sales. Ranked among the top technology transfer companies in the world, Yissum has registered over 9,325 patents covering 2,600 inventions; has licensed out 880 technologies and has spun out 110 companies including Mobileye, BriefCam, CollPlant and Qlight Nanotech. Yissum’s business partners span the globe and include companies such as Syngenta, Monsanto, Roche, Novartis, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Intel, Teva and many more.

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


Mr. Robert 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.
On a regular basis, Mr. Hoskins consults with crowdfunding campaign managers as well as crowdfunding sites, portals and platforms to deliver successful crowdfunding marketing campaigns.
Google search “Robert Hoskins Crowdfunding” to see why Mr. Hoskins runs one of the industry’s foremost crowdfunding PR, social media and marketing agencies that has amassed a huge social media following and is dedicated to supporting a wide variety of donation, rewards and equity crowdfunding campaigns.

 

How to Use Crowdfunding PR, Social Media, Websites and Email Marketing to Launch Successful Kickstarter, Indiegogo or Title IV Equity Crowdfunding Campaigns

20 Oct

Crowdfunding PR helps crowdfunding sites and their campaign managers plan effective marketing campaigns that give fundraising efforts a higher than average chance for crowdfunding success!

By Robert Hoskins

What’s the best way to get the word out about a crowdfunding campaign?

Build an in-depth website including a well-provisioned press room full of information such as a primary PR contact info, logos, head shots of executives, press releases, press coverage, product photos, graphs, charts, white papers, and anything else that a reporter needs to write a news brief or a feature length article at 4:00 am in the morning without talking to anyone.

Always cover the: who, what, where, when, why and how much. Use the website as an electronic sales person that provides comprehensive FAQs that lead customers, crowdfunders and investors directly down the path that you want them to follow with regard to product/service education. The goal is to remove all fear, uncertainty and doubt from the sales equation.

Next, offer them a free white paper or something worth of value such as early bird discounts, VIP memberships, etc. that makes them want to share their email address and phone number with your team for future fundraising marketing efforts.

Use this process to build up an email list of 5,000 or more customers that have expressed a desire to purchase your products before the crowdfunding campaign launches. This step will be a major factor in determining its ability to achieve crowdfunding success on the very first day of the campaign.

Build an extensive social media network on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and as many other social media networks as possible. Grow your social media network by sharing the content from your developing website as well as distributing leading industry news stories for your industry.

And, as you are tweeting out the leading news articles, begin building a database of the reporters, their twitter handles and any subject matter experts quoted in the articles. Also note the frequently used buzzwords, catch phrases, and learn what formulas a reporter likes to use when they write a story.

Use these terms to SEO your crowdfunding profile so that customers who are searching for similar products and service to buy may find the crowdfunding campaign accidentally.

Follow reporters, industry analysts and subject matter experts and make friends with them, a process known as building media relations. Learn what they care about, what they do for fun, and what subject matters they like to talk about.

There is a huge difference in trying to pitch a reporter with a cold, un-researched email versus building a relationship with them before asking them to write a story for you. This strategy should also be used to target angel investors, venture capitalists, private equity and institutional investors.

The most important thing to let them know is that based on “my” extensive research, the articles that “you’ve” written, and the “buyers” that have invested/purchased my company’s product and services are a “perfect match” for your “editorial environment” or your current “investment portfolio.” And it is important to note, that this process usually takes around two-to-six months and needs to be done prior the crowdfunding campaign’s launch.

Issue well-written press releases on one of the top four paid wire distribution services. To reporters “free” or “cheap” wire services equal a potential fraudulent company since they are not willing to pay to use a real wire service and, if so, they may not be a reputable company.

Think of press releases as an extension of content marketing. Add links in the press releases to content on your website that goes into a much deeper discussion of the press release’s primary message. Include a “call-to-action” that tells readers exactly what you want them to do.

Also, write the press release as if you were writing the press release specifically to fit within a trade publication’s editorial environment. The easier it is for reporters and bloggers to cut and paste a story, the easier it will be for you to get media coverage.

And don’t think for a minute that a reporter will find your release by themselves. Instead email a copy directly to the reporter, which by now should now know who you are if you have been doing a good job of building a good media relations as detailed above.

Only target publications and media outlets that contain a high composition of the desired target audience with the right purchasing authority and a high propensity to buy your product or service. In other words, if you wouldn’t spend any money to place an advertisement in any given publication, don’t waste your time trying to pitch your story to a reporter that writes for an audience that really has no interest in purchasing your type of product or service.

All of these crowdfunding campaign prep-work marketing strategies should be done at least two months prior to the crowdfunding campaign. The more months that are spent on prep-work before the campaign begins the better the company will be positioned to achieve success on their crowdfunding campaign.

This entire process will educate the founders and their crowdfunding campaign managers and allow the whole team to learn about the industry, their competitors and how to effectively position their product/service and make it desirable in a very competitive global marketplace.

Why? When potential donors/investors like a crowdfunding campaign’s product, the first thing they will do is research how many likes it has on Facebook, what kind of professional resume the founders have built on Linked and how many followers they have on Twitter.

Next, they will do Google searches on the founders’ names, the company name and its brand names. If they find very little or nothing when searching for information on the company, the crowdfunding campaign will be doomed because it means the company clearly does not understand marketing, social media or PR.

However, if there are several pages of Google search results with news stories, press releases, product photos and a huge following on social media, this means that the founders are dedicated, hard-working employees that have exemplified a better than average chance of being successful long after their crowdfunding campaign concludes simply because they understand marketing.

If all of these crowdfunding puzzle pieces are in the correct place, potential crowdfunders will be convinced that there is a very good chance of receiving the high-tech gadget they want to pre-order to help the company get off the ground.

 

What is the biggest unexpected problem crowdfunders face?

The single biggest problem that founders and crowdfunding campaign managers face is not putting together a realistic marketing budget. It will cost at least $20k to shoot a great crowdfunding video and spend several months mastering the marketing prep-work outlined above.

For example, if you went and hired someone off the street and paid them $7.25 times 40 hours a week times 4 weeks a month times 3 months in a prep-work marketing program, that would equate a marketing budget of $3,480.

The reality is that most good marketing people will bill out at least $25 per hour and great talent will bill out at $100 or more per hour.

So using this math, crowdfunding campaigns should plan to spend at least $15,000 for marketing, social media, and PR support and another $5,000 to shoot a great pitch video and write a well-written crowdfunding campaign profile with language that sells. The campaigns that are raising millions of dollars are typically spending at least $50,000+ on one or more forms of digital advertising networks.

There is a whole sub-crowdfunding industry that will offer press releases, backer programs, social media posts, etc. for a couple of hundred bucks. The problem is that they simply will not provide the success that crowdfunding campaign managers are hoping to receive.  These companies know that founders don’t have much money, but are willing to take whatever they can get.

The same is true for marketing companies that promise to work for a 35% post-paid commission after the campaign ends. The problem is that several days into a crowdfunding campaign that raises hardly any money, these commission-only companies will sever their ties, move onto the next campaign with a better chance of being successful and leave struggling founders hanging out to dry.

We get calls from angry crowdfunding campaign managers all the time that have gone through this disappointing experience. There is no such thing as a “Free Lunch.”

What do crowdfunders need do to achieve excellent results for their campaigns?

In our four years of working with founders on their crowdfunding campaigns, we have seen a trend that is worth pointing out. The single best strategy to prepare for any type of crowdfunding campaign for any founder, entrepreneur, startup or existing small business is to perform an in-depth competitive analysis on as many competitors as possible.

This means researching a minimum of 100 campaigns on both Kickstarter and Indiegogo. The same is true for equity crowdfunding campaigns. Examine successful campaigns as well as ones that have failed.

  1. How are their crowdfunding pitch videos shot?
  2. How are their crowdfunding profiles written?
  3. What perks sold the best/worst and how were they worded and priced?
  4. What was their original crowdfunding goal?

Even better is to search for companies that failed on their first campaign and then raised millions of dollars on their second campaign, such as the “Coolest Cooler,” and then examine what the changed between the first and second try.

The second most important thing that successful crowdfunding campaigns need to have is enough support from family and friends to raise the first 30% of the crowdfunding goal.

Nothing is worse than a campaign that only raises $100 during the first several days.

This is why smart founders will set their goal as low as possible so that they can raise 50% of the goal on the first day. A low goal doesn’t mean they can’t raise a million dollars!

What is the number one piece of advice for anyone wanting to do a Kickstarter or Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign?

We highly recommend taking out a yellow writing tablet and going to Crowdfunding PR’s free crowdfunding training classes at https://crowdfundingtrainingclasses.wordpress.com.

Crowdfunding PR Offers Crowdfunding Training Classes to Help Campaign Managers Plan Cost-Effective Marketing Campaigns

Crowdfunding PR Offers Crowdfunding Training Classes to Help Campaign Managers Plan Cost-Effective Marketing Campaigns Using Social Media, PR, Email and Content Marketing

Reading through these free tutorials will educate founders on the various components of the crowdfunding process. For each section, founders should write down their thoughts about what they might want to do to raise money for their own crowdfunding campaign.

Next, take advantage of Crowdfunding PR’s free 30-minute telephone consultations for founders that are considering launching a crowdfunding campaign. If they are willing to learn about crowdfunding first and then write down their initial thoughts on what they might like to do with their campaign, it will lead to a much better first conversation on what they want to achieve with their Kickstarter, Indiegogo or Title III/Title IV equity crowdfunding campaign.

Call Crowdfunding PR at (512) 627-6622 to setup a call!

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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.
Robert Hoskins
(512) 627-6622
@Crowdfunding_PR


Mr. Robert 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.
On a regular basis, Mr. Hoskins consults with crowdfunding campaign managers as well as crowdfunding sites, portals and platforms to deliver successful crowdfunding marketing campaigns.
Google search “Robert Hoskins Crowdfunding” to see why Mr. Hoskins is considered one of the industry’s foremost crowdfunding experts that has amassed a huge social media following, which is dedicated to supporting donation-, rewards- and equity-based crowdfunding campaigns.

Top 10 Title III, Regulation Crowdfunding Offerings Ranked on the Amount of Crowdfunding Raised

18 May

Searching for the Hottest New Title III, Regulation Crowdfunding Investment Opportunities?

For fun, we thought we would keep track of the first wave to Title III, Regulation Crowdfunding Offerings to see who has raised the most money to date. The current crowdfunding campaigns are ranked in order by the amount of money they have raised as of May 24, 2016 at 4:00 pm.

After the first week, it looks like crowdfunding campaigns with lower investment amounts far outpaced larger investment requirements.  The same is true of lower crowdfunding investment goals. For example, GameTree has a minimum investment of $100 and a fundraising goal of $100,000 and barely two weeks into their campaign they are 90% funded.

If you’d like shop around and make your first non-accredited investment in a Title III, Regulation CF offering, please review from the offers listed below.

You might also check out their company websites, their social media credentials on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and then Google their founders names and companies to see what they have done to promote their company in the news media.

It will be easy to see what management teams have done the proper prep work, planned effective marketing campaigns and the others that haven’t even been able to put together a simple company website.

If they can’t build a simple website, how in the world can they run a successful business?

Here is also a quick snapshot of what Title III Crowdfunding Platforms have raised the most money:

  1.   WeFunder.com            $243,871
  2.   StartEngine                  $142,602
  3.   SeedInvest                     $74,800
  4.   NextSeed                        $26,900

Total: $461,273


1. The Legion M Entertainment (media company)

Crowdfunding Platform: WeFunder

Amount Raised: $120,611

2. Taxa Biotechnologies (genetic plant engineers)

Crowdfunding Platform: WeFunder

Amount Raised:  $111,860

3. MF Fire (an app-drive, low emissions wood stove)

Crowdfunding Platform: SeedInvest

Amount Raised: $40,900

4. Native Hostel Austin (Luxury hostel in Austin

Crowdfunding Platform: NextSeed

Amount Raised: $26,900

5. Bloomery SweetShine (distillery)

Crowdfunding Platform: StartEngine

Amount Raised: $35,700

 

6. GameTree (Social network for gamers)

Crowdfunding Platform: StartEngine

Amount Raised:  $90,360

7. Treasure State Internet (fiber optic installation)

Crowdfunding Platform: WeFunder

Amount Raised:  $8,800

8. StartMart Cleveland (Coworking space)

Crowdfunding Platform: SeedInvest

Amount Raised: $7,000

9. Gigmor (Connecting bands with venues and gigs)

Crowdfunding Platform: StartEngine

Amount Raised: $14,905

10. Urban Juncture (developing commercial real estate)

Platform: WeFunder

Amount Raised: $2,600

11. Graphic Armor (personalized condoms)

Crowdfunding Platform: StartEngine

Amount Raised: $1,636

12. NextRX Inc (Medical marijuana network pass)

Crowdfunding Platform: StartEngine

Amount Raised:  $0

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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.

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.

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“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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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.

Learn more about crowdfunding:

 

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