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The best source for news and information about crowdfunding for good.

Crowdfunding for Social Good

Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Monthly Archives: June 2016

Invest In Urban Juncture To Rebuild a Historic Chicago Community

Urban Juncture is taking a historic Chicago community and is raising money on WeFunder to rebuild it into the vibrant hub of Black culture and commerce it once was. Recently, I caught up with Bernard Lloyd to learn more about the effort; here’s what he told me:

What is the social benefit you hope to achieve with or through your crowdfunding campaign?

We’re taking a historic Chicago community that’s been abandoned by banks and businesses and joining with friends, neighbors, and partners to rebuild it into the vibrant hub of Black culture and commerce it once was. We’re developing restaurants celebrating black cuisine from across the globe, launching a co-working facility to lift up the next generation of community enterprises, and operating award-winning garden and bicycling programs to attract visitors and bring residents together.

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How much money are you hoping to raise and why? How much have you raised so far?

We are hoping to raise $25-100K. So far, we’ve raised about $12K from 21 investors.

We’re recapturing the Promise of Bronzeville – the notion of a community that reflects the rich culture and diversity of this historic neighborhood, that works for residents of long-standing as much as for urban professionals just moving in, and that provides a unique destination for visitors from near and far. To achieve this vision, we have to build unique, culture- and place-based enterprises, re-connect neighbors and expand economic opportunity in our neighborhood.

KEY FACTS

  • We raised $9 million to bring delicious Black cuisine from across the globe to 51st Street and the CTA Green Line station, the heart of Bronzeville.
  • We purchased and renovated 16,000 sq. ft of building space and acquired two other nearby properties.
  • Our first restaurant, The Bronzeville Jerk Shack, won “Best Jerk Chicken in Chicago” from RedEye.
  • We created award-winning community garden and bicycling initiatives that bring neighbors and guests together celebrate Bronzeville.
  • We engaged 1000 people per week in events and activities during the 2015 summer season.

Whom are you trying to help with your project and why?

We are working to revitalize the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago – see a video on our project at https://wefunder.com/urban.juncture.

Please describe your offering.

Loan Money
5% interest | 120 months
Personal Guarantee
The promissory note pays 5% per year over 120 months. Personally guarantee by Bernard Loyd. The yield to maturity is 5%.

INVESTOR PERKS

$100+
An open invitation to all of our (free) Bronzeville Bikes bike rides and Bronzeville Community Garden events, and inclusion on our newsletter distribution list

$500+
A free meal for two at Bronzeville Jerk Shack. Urban Juncture swag celebrating our projects and our community

$1,000+
A site tour for you and 3 guests with a member of the project leadership team A free coconut water to quench your thirst whenever you visit the Jerk Shack

$10,000+
A custom-designed Bronzeville Bikes bike ride (OR a Bronzeville Community Garden get-together) for up to 20 ending with dinner at the Jerk Shack Recognition (your name memorialized) in Bronzeville Incubator space

$50,000+
Lunch or dinner and private project tour with the founder for you and 3 guests Catered dinner for up to 50 in one of our wonderful spaces Membership on Urban Juncture advisory board

Check out the campaign:

Visit the website.

 

Andy Murray Serves up Further Investments in British Entrepreneurs on the UK’s No.1 Equity Crowdfunding Platform Seedrs

  • Tennis champion Andy Murray backs British entrepreneurs on the UK’s No. 1 equity crowdfunding platform Seedrs
  • Andy Murray invests on Seedrs in Beeline, Dog Tracker Nano and blow LTD
  • Andy Murray’s investment portfolio on Seedrs now includes 15 early-stage businesses

Press Release – London, 13th June 2016: Tennis champion, world number two Andy Murray announced today that he has made three further investments in British start-ups on the UK’s most active equity crowdfunding platform, Seedrs.

Murray identified the three very different businesses he wanted to back, investing undisclosed amounts into each. This follows the multiple investments Andy made in February on Seedrs, with plans to continue backing British startups as part of his strategic relationship with Seedrs.

Today’s investments include: Beeline, a smart navigation device and mobile app for bicycles, allowing cyclists to navigate by informing them of the direction and distance to their destination. Dog Tracker Nano, a live tracking device with geofencing and alerts to keep your dog safe with inbuilt tech to monitor activity, fitness and location. Lastly, blow LTD; London’s leading ‘beauty on demand’ service, delivering expert blow dries, makeup and nails to your door.

Beeline successfully raised over £500,000 in under a week from over 350 investors on Seedrs, quickly exceeding its fundraising target of £400,000. This campaign follows a successful rewards-based campaign on Kickstarter, with the London based company also receiving investment from well-known fund, Seedcamp. The smart device connects to wirelessly the rider’s phone, enabling the compass to direct the rider to their destination. Cyclists can rediscover the fun of cycling as BeeLine lets them pick their own path, unlike most navigation devices that use turn-by-turn GPS navigation.

Dog Tracker Nano has returned to Seedrs for their second round of funding and are currently over 115% of their funding target with investment from 110 investors. The health, fitness and GPS tech for pets is a small, lightweight and waterproof dog tracking system that can be worn everyday by all breeds of dogs to monitor activity and fitness. The always-on ‘live tracker’ provides a constant location of your pet via your mobile, wherever you are in the UK or abroad – essential for detailed tracking of walks, activity and exercise, and for accurate geofences and alerts. Andy and Kim are big dog lovers and often talk about their terriers Maggie May and Rusty.

Murray’s final investment is in blow LTD. Blow LTD has raised over £1.1 million with over 210 investors including Unilever Ventures and the founder of ASOS. Launched by co-founders Dharmash Mistry, Venture Capitalist & Entrepreneur and Fiona McIntosh, former Editor-in-Chief of Grazia and Elle in November 2013, blow LTD has been dubbed the “Uber for beauty” and provides expert blow-dries, makeup and nails to customers’ doors (whether home, office, hotel or event) or in one of blow LTD’s flagship beauty bars in Covent Garden and Canary Wharf.

Murray said about the investments, “Giving recognition and support to British entrepreneurs is really important to me, especially those who are the driving force behind growth-focused businesses. Every one of these entrepreneurs is passionate and dedicated to succeeding and I’m excited to have invested in their future growth.”

Jeff Lynn, CEO and co-founder of Seedrs, said, “It’s great to see Andy supporting entrepreneurs so actively on Seedrs by investing in another three businesses today. Andy is a great example of an investor who understands early stage investment and the importance of building a diverse investment portfolio aligned with a wider investment strategy. Seedrs was named the most active investor in private companies in the UK last month, and our continued growth and leading position in the market are testament to our reputation and the support from people like Andy.”

VIVOBAREFOOT Raises More Than $130,000 for the San Bushman of Namibia; Exceeds Goal for Kickstarter Give-Back Campaign

Barefoot Shoe Technology Leader Successfully Attains Kickstarter Target; Money Raised To Help Revive Ancient African Craft, Support Namibian Community

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Press Release – LOS ANGELES — June 10, 2016Vivobarefoot, the leading global producer of barefoot shoes, announced today it has exceeded its $100,000 Kickstarter campaign goal for production of original bushman SAN-dals in Namibia. With over 630 backers, the company raised $133,860 (£93K), in total, surpassing its 30-day goal by more than 30 percent.

Vivobarefoot launched the Kickstarter campaign after its very successful Crowdcube campaign, which raised more than $1.8 million in the U.K. The Kickstarter, which started on May 10, 2016, was designed to help revive ancient San bushman leather-making craft, support the local community and bring traditional Bushman sandals—some of the first shoes ever made, which were used by the bushman for persistence hunting for generations—to people around the globe.

Pledge levels ranged from $10 to $5,000, and backers could purchase a standalone pair of San-dals for $150 or pledge towards a once-in-a-lifetime six-day adventure with the San Bushmen in the wildest parts of Namibia. The SAN-dals, which will start shipping in June 2016, are made with ethically-sourced eland skin, one of the thickest and most durable leathers in Africa. They are handmade and wholly unique. These shoes were originally designed to protect villagers from the burning hot sand and sharp thorns. The edges are hand-sewn and sealed with natural beeswax, featuring an embossed animal footprint on the sole for extra grip, abrasion resistance, and so that you can leave an animal footprint!

“We are humbled by the support not only for our company, but for our mission and the craft we are looking to help revive in Namibia,” said Galahad Clark, Founder and MD of Vivobarefoot. “By surpassing our goal, we are now able to give back to the community that has taught us about ancient shoe-making and the importance of shoe design. We are thankful to all those who contributed and enabled us to support one of the oldest communities on Earth, as we continue to create revolutionary footwear for our customers.”

All proceeds from the campaign will be reinvested back into the Namibian community to maintain the village, purchase staple foods and create a famine fund for drought years.

For more information about the campaign, visit: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/vivobarefoot/the-original-san-dal

About Vivobarefoot

Vivobarefoot make the best barefoot shoes in the world: launched in 2012* as a standalone brand, and based in London, England.

Vivobarefoot is on a mission to change the footwear industry based on one simple insight—shoes should let your feet do their natural thing. The shoes feature a patented, ultra-thin, puncture-resistant sole in every shoe that protects the foot and allows maximum sensory feedback. Designed using ancient wisdom with modern technology Vivobarefoot is a complete shoe collection for off road, exercise and everyday wear, as well as a line for kids.

Created by two cousins from a long line of cobblers, Galahad and Asher Clark are on a quest to make the perfect shoe—perfect for feet.

Vivobarefoot footwear is produced sustainably using recycled, locally sourced materials in independently monitored factories. For more information on Vivobarefoot, visit http://www.vivobarefoot.com/us.

*Vivobarefoot started life in 2004 as a sub-brand “Terra Plana using Vivobarefoot technology.”

Insights for Women on Raising Money From the Right Investors

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

The JOBS Act Title III provisions allowing the crowdfunding of investments from ordinary investors finally went into effect in May, four years after the bipartisan bill was signed into law by President Obama in April 2012.

The Security and Exchange Commission issued “Regulation Crowdfunding” last fall with an effective date of May 16, 2016. Those wishing to take advantage of the new law are required to issue their securities through a FINRA-registered broker dealer (investment bank) or via a registered “portal.”

Attorney Jenny Kassan helps social entrepreneurs, especially women, raise money under not only Regulation CF but other regulations that allow for similar offering structures, some that are easier to use.

Jenny’s clients include Lynn Johnson and Jessica Nowlan, entrepreneurs who each have an interest in raising money for her small business. Lynn is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spotlight:Girls. Jessica is the Founder of Create Shoppe.

Together, with help from Jenny, they offered up six tips for raising money for a small business, which I am sharing below.

  1. Get Clear: “Get clear on your values, goals, and projections for the exact kind of business you want to lead,” Lynn says.
  2. Identify Ideal: “Identify your ideal investor so that you don’t waste time chasing after opportunities that don’t match your values,” she adds.
  3. Ignore VC: “Venture Capital, although that is mostly what you hear about, isn’t necessarily the right way to get capital for every business, especially for smaller businesses and in particular for low income women,” Jessica says.
  4. Believe in Yourself: “Believe in what you are doing and believe in yourself. Seek the advice and guidance of trusted mentors that understand the diversity of funding options available and also your personal circumstances,” Jessica adds.
  5. Mine Community: “Mine your existing community for potential investors – friends, family, customers, supporters, etc. – through a crowdfunding model,” Lynn notes.
  6. Network, Network, Network: “You have to believe in what you are doing and yourself, and you need to get other people on board. When you don’t have the same networks as people with access, you have to build them yourself,” Jessica concludes.

On Thursday, June 9, 2016 at 3:00 Eastern, Jenny, Lynn and Jessica will join me for a live discussion about strategies to help women raise money for their small businesses from the right investors. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

More about Spotlight:Girls:

Twitter: @spotlightgirls

Spotlight:Girls is a benefit corporation that celebrates and activates girls and women through multi-media learning experiences, products, and events. We are the producers of Go Girls! Camp, a summer camp where young girls learn and practice social/emotional skills through the arts.

More about Create Shoppe:

Twitter: @createshoppe

The mission of Create Shoppe is to build a better world through creativity, human connection, and the creation of gift products that are designed by our customers and created by artisan crafters. Create Shoppe is a platform where people can design and customize handmade gifts. Artisan Crafters make the products, gift wrap them and send them off with a handwritten note to our customers friends and families.

Lynn Johnson, courtesy of Matt Mimiaga

Lynn Johnson, courtesy of Matt Mimiaga

Lynn’s bio:

Twitter: @lynnjohnson

Lynn Johnson is a social entrepreneur, girl advocate, and co-­founder/CEO of Spotlight:Girls, the Oakland, CA-based company that produces Go Girls! Camp. Go Girls! Camp is an innovative and highly popular summer camp where girls learn and practice social/emotional skills through the arts.

Founded in 2008 when 17 girls came together to make a play in a church basement in Oakland, CA, Go Girls! has grown into a movement to be reckoned with ­ serving hundreds of girls each summer in five different locations.

Go Girls! received international recognition when it was chosen as one of 15 finalists from over 600 entries from all over the world in Ashoka Changemakers’ “Activating Empathy” competition and has been featured on the George Lucas’ Foundation’s Edutopia website.

A graduate of Northwestern University and a former actor, director, and teaching artist, Lynn has worked with people of all ages from all over the country using theater as a tool for personal transformation and community development. Lynn works regularly as a speaker, facilitator, and workshop leader. She lives in Oakland, CA with her wife and daughter.

Jessica Nowlan, courtesy of Shannon Cunningham

Jessica Nowlan, courtesy of Shannon Cunningham

Jessica’s bio:

Twitter: @jessicanowlan

Jessica Nowlan, started Create Shoppe in 2015. She was inspired to build a company that helped people tap into their own creativity and give gifts that inspire, have meaning and help create a better world. Jessica didn’t have it easy growing up. At the age of 13 she was already living on her on the streets of San Francisco’s tenderloin. With limited education and support, she struggled to find her way as a young adult, domestic violence survivor, and as a single mother with two kids. It was ultimately through the relationships she built that she found the support and love that helped her find her way. With a desire to show gratitude to the people in her life, Jessica began making handmade and inspirational gifts as a way to say thank you to her friends and family. “I soon realized, that while I could go out and buy gifts, putting my own creativity and thoughtfulness into what I am making with the other person in mind is so much more meaningful. It makes me feel good, and it definitely makes the gift recipient feel special. Isn’t that the point of gift giving in the first place?”

Jenny Kassan

Jenny Kassan

Jenny’s bio:

Twitter: @jennykassan

Jenny has over two decades of experience as an attorney and advisor for mission-driven enterprises.    Jenny serves her clients in the areas of business start-up, entity structuring to preserve mission, enterprise finance, securities regulation, investment crowdfunding, nonprofit law, and cooperatives. As a capital raising coach and securities attorney, Jenny has helped her clients raise millions of dollars and raised several hundred thousand for her own business.

Jenny earned her J.D. from Yale Law School and a masters degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of California at Berkeley.

She was recently appointed to the Securities and Exchange Commission Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies.

Prior to beginning her work in securities and finance, Jenny worked for eleven years at a nonprofit community development corporation in Oakland, where she served as staff attorney and managed community economic development projects including the formation and management of several social ventures designed to employ and create business ownership opportunities for low-income community residents.

Jenny is the President of Community Ventures, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the economic and social development of communities. She also co-founded the Sustainable Economies Law Center, a nonprofit that provides legal information to support sustainable economies.

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Devin D. Thorpe

The Surgicon Project Goes Public

The initiative for Internationally Valid Licenses for Surgeons

Initiated from Sweden in 2010, the Surgicon Project has gathered a large number of leading surgeons worldwide, from different surgical specialties. This is in itself a unique accomplishment, as surgeons strictly work and communicate in their own pipelines. But the question about how to form a new skilled surgeon from a medical student – who mostly has read books for many years – showed to be of common interest. The baseline idea to find common grounds for surgical training and examinations attracted many surgical leaders. Names like Pr Patricia J. Numann, MD FACS, Past President, American College of Surgeons, Pr Carlos A. Pellegrini, MD, FACS, FRCSI (Hon), Past-President Am Coll of Surgeons, Pr Richard Reznick MD, Dean, Queen’s University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Pr Spencer Beasley, Counselor and Deputy Censor-in-Chief RACS, New Zealand, Pr Philip J Crowe, MB BS, DPhil, Grad DipHEd, FRCSC, FRACS, UNSW, Sydney, Australia, Pr Guy Maddern, MBBS PhD MS MD FRACS, RP Jepson Professor of Surgery, Adelaide, Australia, Pr Shekhar Kumta, Orthopedic Surgeon, Director of the Teaching & Learning Resource Center, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China, Pr Leon Snyman, MBChB, MPraxMed Mmed, FCOG, Department Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Pretoria, South Africa, and many others have been seen on the podium, in work groups and in the audience. In the board we find some of the most famous scientific researchers in the field, Prem Richard M Satava, USA, Pr Anthony G Gallagher, Ireland, and Dr Richard L Angelo, USA.

The very starting point was the first Surgicon Congress in 2011 which already from the beginning attracted attendants from 30 countries – across the globe from Australia/New Zealand to USA/Canada and in between. A Swedish Government official inaugurated the meeting, organized at a very high quality where clusters of lectures were followed by debates between the panel and the floor without any stress. International working groups developed the congress program 2013, where 45 of the highest ranked surgeons were invited to speak. In the autumn 2013 Surgicon was invited to collaborate with the WHO.

However, the entire project being organized on a completely voluntary basis, we find that the continuation will be impossible without funding. As we all might need surgery before we think of it, and as the human body is the same regardless of country, culture, religion, rich or poor, we decided to create a crowdfunding campaign. The question about surgical quality and safety is to us a question of human rights, and we focus as much on both the young surgeon as the patient.

 

Support Surgicon Project to Have International Licenses for Surgeons

This is a guest post from Dr Richard L Angelo MD, Past-President of Arthroscopy Association of North America (AANA)

Surgicon, I believe, is the only world-wide “clearing house” for the latest ideas, concepts, and developments in the critical theatre of how educators internationally are facing the challenge of educating the next generation of surgeons in an efficient, but more importantly, effective manner. In this age of rising costs and diminishing opportunities for trainee experience, we no longer can employ the traditional apprenticeship model of the past century – it is too inefficient, and lacks uniformity and assurance of the proficiency of those entering surgical practice and caring for patients.

project-image

It should continue to serve as the most effective and visible forum for the exchange of surgical training principles available today. It is simply not possible for individual organizations, societies, or countries to address all of the issues or explore all of the avenues necessary to identify the resources and tools necessary to prepare future surgeons.

Campaign:

http://startsomegood.com/surgicon

Learn more: https://www.surgicon.org/

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Big Apple Circus Announces Campaign To Save The Circus Emergency Fundraising Drive Launched

Press Release – New York, NY – Big Apple Circus, whose performances in New York and around the country have thrilled audiences for years, said today that it is in critical financial condition and will be forced to close unless it raises $2 million over the next two months.

Executive Director Will Maitland Weiss said the organization is going public with a major fundraising appeal, reaching beyond the over 200,000 families in its database in an effort to raise the necessary funds, without which there will be no 2016 performances at Lincoln Center and the Circus will come to an end. He also said the organization has launched a special fundraising website, www.savethecircus.org, where supporters could respond to this emergency appeal.

“Our acrobats may be leaping their last dazzling leap,” Weiss said. “Our aerialists may never again make us gasp in wonder as they glide through the air with the greatest of ease. And this may be the last laugh for our clowns, who have brought joy to audiences young and old for so many years. The Big Apple Circus is in trouble.”

“Our ticket sales in New York City, including Lincoln Center and Queens, where we are performing right now, have remained steady, so we know our audience is still there,” Weiss said. But ticket sales only cover a portion of the Circus’ operating expenses and, like other nonprofits, Big Apple Circus relies on the generous support of many individuals and public and private institutions.

Weiss pointed to a number of factors that have contributed to the Circus’ economic distress, particularly a significant drop in revenue from private performances, where companies buy the entire tent, which began after the 2008-2009 recession and has never recovered. The Circus also suffered as, over a three-year period, tragedy repeatedly hit locations where it was performing: Hurricane Sandy in New York in 2012, the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, and the Atlanta ice storms in 2014.

“If you believe in what we do, don’t let the Circus close. If you believe our work enriches the lives of children and adults of all ages, inside and outside the tent, please keep the Big Apple Circus alive. Go to www.savethecircus.org and give.”

About Big Apple Circus

Conceived and founded by Paul Binder and Michael Christensen to be a leading presenter of live family entertainment and a nonprofit performing arts institution, our nation-wide performances and community programs have made our 38-year history far-reaching and full. Our mission is to invigorate the communities we serve with the joy and wonder of classical circus. We create authentic, direct contact; laughter and delight, under the Big Top and in hospitals, nursing homes, and schools across the country. For more information, visit www.bigapplecircus.org.

World’s First 360° Crowdfunding Platform Designed For Youth And Millennials Raises Over $100K In First Month

Freudon Aims To Facilitate Youth Entrepreneurship And Address Global Youth Development Crises

Press Release – (New York, NY, June 2, 2016) — An ambitious new crowdfunding platform aims to do more than just host a fundraiser for your next great idea or business; it teaches you how to build a winning and profitable campaign. Freudon, the world’s first 360° crowdfunding platform, designed for the specific needs of youth and millennials ages 16-35, launched in Spring 2016 and has already raised over $100,000 for its entrepreneurs within its first month. The global company works with international startups, spotlighting the critical need to empower youth to enter the world stage with their ideas and stories.

70% of crowdfunding campaigns fail. Freudon’s remedy for this is through an ever-growing network of experts who guide each user through the process of building their campaign. At a highly competitive rate of 4% (less than most popular sites which normally charge a 5-7% fee), Freudon provides hands-on, one-on-one advice for everything from video creation, content of project pages, rewards, graphic design, communications and vision and strategy for expansion.

Among some of the business on Freudon.com are new restaurant concept based out of Berlin, Brasserie La Martine, which was fully funded in one day, raising over $25K with their campaign. Cufflinks Land, a new maker of stylish cufflinks for men based out of Melbourn, Australia raised over $48K. Some exciting and still growing projects include the BVKit, a business based out of Uganda, Africa, created by five college women, which provides a mobile phone application and hardware that tests for bacterial vaginosis. The kit offers early detection and prevention of cervical cancer as well as a means to improved overall reproductive health for women in areas of limited medical access and high levels gender related social stigmas.

See how Freudon works here.

Freudon seeks to address critical problems that hinder social good on a global level. Persistently high youth unemployment presents one of the biggest factors and most severe challenges for youth and millennials to overcome in today’s societies. In fact, the United Nations addresses this issue within its seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and during the 2016 United Nations Youth Forum a resolution for Youth Entrepreneurship was announced addressing the importance of youth entrepreneurship in achieving these goals.

Freudon believes that in addition to public sector action, the private sector must also address these challenges by bridging the gap between youth and new, successful business. By tailoring expertise support to attract individual and corporate backers, Freudon seeks to give resources to the many young people around the world who lack access to opportunities that will enable their economic growth and financial independence.

About Freudon:

Freudon is the world’s first 360° crowdfunding platform for youth and millennials ages 16-35. It is a platform where the entrepreneurial generation can introduce new and bold ideas in Art, Crafts, Education, Energy, Fashion & Beauty, Food, Games, Health, Social Business and Technology to the marketplace to better the world.

TurtleWise Announces Equity Crowdfunding Campaign on Start Engine

Experience Social Network Utilizes Newly-Legislated Equity Crowdfunding

Press Release – Victor, New York – TurtleWise, an experience social network, announces the launch of their equity crowdfunding campaign on StartEngine.com. The new Title III crowdfunding regulation went into effect on May 16th and this is the first time that unaccredited investors can invest in a startup. We have entered a new age of startup financing. TurtleWise has published the terms of fundraising on StartEngine.com. Equity crowdfunding under Title III opens new avenues for entrepreneurs to raise capital from a group of people that do not need to qualify as an accredited investor.

To learn more about this investment opportunity, visit: https://www.startengine.com/startup/turtlewise

“We believe every startup should have the opportunity to grow. Equity Crowdfunding will give small and early stage companies another method to raise capital that can be instrumental to growth.” said TurtleWise founder and CEO, Kevin Walker.

Title III opens the door to non-accredited investors. Previously only accredited investors, who have an individual income of $200,000 or $1,000,000 in net assets, excluding their house, could buy securities. Now, Title III has enabled people to invest in crowdfunding securities who have an annual income or net worth of less than $100,000. With Title III, Main Street has the opportunity to invest with Wall Street.

Impact

Millions of people around the world have benefited from mentorship, where the guidance of a more experienced individual have contributed to those people reaching greater success in their lives. TurtleWise’s mission is to change lives by creating an intimate social network where participants can get and give important advice.

TurtleWise was founded in 2015 by Kevin Walker as a way to connect users with trusted and credible mentors. This innovative social media platform bridges the gap between crowdsourced Q&A sites and your personal network of friends and family. After launching at SXSW 2016, Turtlewise has grown consistently each month in users and activity.

Regarding the type of people that are using TurtleWise, Walker said, “We believe that it’s important to have a trusted group of people that you think have the experience and motivation to really help you and that’s what TurtleWise really does.”

TurtleWise initially focused on six “clusters of excellence”: Military, Entrepreneurship, Lifestyle/Family, Career, Education, and Politics. The number of clusters have expanded rapidly as new users bring new expertise and experience to the community. Explorers ask question within the iOS app or online and Gurus are matched based on their experience.

Check out the live StartEngine campaign to learn more about the opportunity and support our mission to change the world, one great decision at a time.

About TurtleWise

TurtleWise is a Social Network that leverages the unique experiences of its users in order to share credible, customizable and confidential advice. It combines the best of your personal networks with the best of online crowdsourcing. Soon to launch premium features are aimed at deepening engagement and generating revenue. Trusted, mentor relationships are forged one time, a few times or for a lifetime. The difference between a good life and a great life is great decisions.

5 Tips For Evaluating Crowdfund Investments

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Alex Thaler is an entrepreneur who saw a problem and immediately saw a solution. Ordinary investors are now allowed to invest in startups and other private issuers via crowdfunding portals, but need help. He created Stratifund to solve the problem. Today, he offers five free tips for evaluating crowdfund investments.

Thaler, with an MBA from Wharton and experience with Life Time Fitness and Boston Consulting Group, says that Stratifund was formed in 2015 and just started operations coincident with the effective date for Regulation Crowdfunding (JOBS Act Title III) investing last month. The revenue model is a monthly subscription that costs participants just $10 per month. As the first revenues are just being recorded, he says he can’t yet measure margins meaningfully.

He approaches the crowdfunding market with a sense of mission and purpose. He says, “Our mission is to drive the equity crowdfunding business.” He sees transparency lacking in the space and hopes to be the one to address it.

Crowdfunding enthusiasts, like me, have long argued that crowdfunding itself is a form of social entrepreneurship, breaking down traditional barriers to capital for women and minorities who have been largely boxed out of the venture capital market.

Stratifund not only provides thorough analytical reports on every Regulation Crowdfunding offering the firm aggregates deals from across all of the portals so investors can come to one place and see everything.

Alex Thaler, courtesy of Stratifund

Alex Thaler, courtesy of Stratifund

Thaler has been living in a world that didn’t exist, developing templates and models for evaluation crowdfund investments. As such, in many ways he is ahead of the rest of us on figuring out how to evaluate a possible investment in Regulation CF deal. Here are his five points:

  1. Look at the team. He says, “Invest in a rock star team.” Experienced investors understand that it is better to bet on an “A team” with a “B idea” than a “B team” with an “A idea.” He adds, “You want the team with the right skill set to drive the company to success.”
  2. Look for a large, growing industry. “You want a piece of a big pie,” he says. There is more potential for growth with a unique idea and a big market. He frets that too many people invest based on recommendations from family and friends without understanding. He cautions that investors need to look at the narrowly defined industry and not the industry as a whole. That is, if you are looking at a company that makes athletic socks, look at that market niche, not the entire apparel industry to gauge the market size.
  3. Check the depth of the competition’s pockets. Investors need to understand whether the company is competing with the shop on the corner or with behemoths like Apple and Google. It will take much more capital, he cautions, to compete with the big boys. For example, he says, “take competing with Amazon. Right now Jet.com is trying to launch a competitive service. They have raised over $500 million to date. Compare this with opening a restaurant at the corner of a popular street in your town. The cost is much lower and with so many small competitors its easier to get your name out with a more modest marketing budget.”
  4. Look for a company doing something unique. The challenge here is to find evidence that the market perceives a value difference. A Kickstarter campaign that successfully exceeded its goal and raised a lot of money could be evidence that the company has found a way to differentiate itself from the crowd. The key question, Thaler says, is “Do we have a change customers are willing to pay for?”
  5. Look at the numbers. You’ve got to get into the financials, he says. While it is easy to make projections and to get Excel to say what you want, you should be able to see if the plan lines up with the projections. If the first four tests don’t measure up, don’t let rosy financial projections sway you. On the other hand, if everything else looks good, make sure the numbers also look good. Be sure to check the “cap table,” the capitalization of the company and who owns what with what rights after the deal closes. Be careful about investing immediately after a venture round, he cautions, when sophisticated investors may have locked up special rights and privileges with preferred stock and then may offer you common stock–worth much less–at the same or similar price.

On Thursday, June 2, 2016 at 4:00 Eastern, Thaler will join me for a live discussion about his five tips and the new platform he’s launched to support the nascent equity crowdfunding industry. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

 

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