Crowdfunding To Open to Non-Accredited Investors

Terry Flanagan

The SEC’s Reg A+ rules under the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act become effective on June 19, setting in motion a mechanism for opening equity crowdfunding to non-accredited investors.

“Reg A+ allows private companies to raise capital from everybody and not just accredited investors,” Ryan Feit, CEO and co-founder of crowdfunding platform SeedInvest, told Markets Media. “It allows private high-growth companies to raise anywhere from a couple of million dollars all the way up to $50 million, and to raise money from everybody.”

Beyond making investments in startups more accessible, the new regulation paves the way for investors/advisors to begin looking at these companies as essentially a new asset class and a long-term investing alternative as they seek to diversify investment portfolios.

“If you are a company that has a lot of customers and users, it allows you to potentially go out to all of those customers and users and invite them to own a piece of your company, which you’ve never been able to do before,” said Feit.

The Reg A+ rules are mandated by Title IV of the JOBS Act. The updated exemption will enable smaller companies to offer and sell up to $50 million of securities in a 12-month period, subject to eligibility, disclosure and reporting requirements.

Title II of the JOBS Act, which became effective on September 23, 2013, removed an 80-year ban on general solicitation, which means that a private company can raise capital privately, or they can actually do it publicly using social media and equity crowdfunding platforms.

This month, SeedIinvest will hit 10,000 accredited investors, a major milestone. Of the 200 startups that apply to raise capital every month, SeedInvest accepts about 1-2% following a rigorous due diligence process. “Only the companies that get past our filter are opened up to accredited investors on our platform,” Feit said. “Our goal is to make investing in a private company as easy as buying a share of stock.”

Feit co-founded SeedInvest because he saw the need for a better way to connect entrepreneurs and investors. Prior to the passage of the JOBS Act, he supported The Startup Exemption, an equity crowdfunding advocacy group.

“We were pretty involved in the initial JOBS act effort, and about three years ago launched SeedInvest to take advantage of the 80-year changes to the U.S. securities laws,” he said. “A little over two years ago we publicly launched our platform that connects accredited investors with highly vetted technology start-ups that are typically raising their first or second round of capital.”

SeedInvest raised its Series A funding last year using its own platform. “Instead of raising it all through venture capital, we said that we should leverage our own platform,” Feit said. “We raised $2 million from VCs and then opened the remainder up to investors on our platform, accredited investors or angels. Within a couple of weeks, we had 42 individual angels come in to invest the remaining $2.15 million, all online.”

Featured image vby momius/Dollar Photo Club

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