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

Crowdfunding for Social Good

Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Interviews

Stories that include video interviews.

Crowdfunding Campaign Has Lasting Impact for Kids With Birthmarks

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

One of the most inspiring stories in my book Crowdfunding for Social Good features Martha Griffin’s campaign to raise money to publish Sam’s Birthmark, a book about a boy born with a birthmark on his face. The book has impacted countless lives since, including her own son Barron, helping kids born with port wine stain birthmarks like Barron’s to feel special.

For the book, Martha explained that she learned four key lessons from her Kickstarter campaign where she successfully raised $31,763.

  1. Would the birthmark community embrace or see a need for the book?
  2. Would the message appeal to our network and outside the birthmark community?
  3. Could we “market” the book through a viral campaign like Kickstarter?
  4. What would be the response to our story?

Today, I caught up with Martha to learn more about her ongoing effort to build a movement that protects kids against bullying and builds their self-confidence.

Sam's Birthmark

Sam’s Birthmark

Martha says, “A child’s individuality, whether it’s marked by curly hair, freckles or even a birthmark; it’s what makes them special. Sam’s Birthmark is about raising vascular birthmark awareness as well embracing our own and each other’s differences.”

Martha hoped the book would not only help her son, but that it would provide her with a platform for educating others. “We wrote Sam’s Birthmark to build confidence in our son. Also the general public are not aware of the health issues from Vascular Birthmarks. The book has helped us connect with other Birthmark parents throughout the world and be a part of the vast birthmark community.”

Martha still worries about bullying. “Children can be cruel about physical differences. As parents we face the challenge of raising a confident child.”

She worries, too, that Barron’s birthmark could get larger and that growths might develop. Barron has had nine laser surgeries to prevent this. The book remains profoundly relevant in his life.

Martha acknowledges that it will be difficult to stop bullying altogether. “We live a society that focuses on beauty and I don’t see that changing. It’s your face all the time now with social media. Bullying is a huge problem. By parents starting the conversation at an early age about physical differences we can over time stop bullying.”

She remains optimistic, however, and sees her book as a powerful tool for good in the lives of affected children and families. She wants to share the book as widely as possible. “The more people that share and read Sam’s Birthmark, the more good we can do. Through our website we have the ‘Buy-the-Book/Get-a- Book’ campaign. For every book purchased, we give you an extra book to donate to a school, doctor office, church or library.”

Grant, Martha and Barron Griffin, courtesy of Sam's Birthmark

Grant, Martha and Barron Griffin, courtesy of Sam’s Birthmark

On Thursday, October 6, 2016 at 1:00 Eastern, Martha will join me here for a live discussion about how Sam’s Birthmark has influenced the life of her son Barron and others like him around the world. 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 Sam’s Birthmark:

Twitter: @samsbirthmark

Sam’s Birthmark is a children’s book about teaching kids to appreciate the differences in others and themselves.

Martha’s bio:

Martha and Grant found their inspiration for Sam’s Birthmark after their son Barron was born with a Port Wine Stain birthmark covering the right side of his face. After researching Vascular Birthmarks and connecting with other birthmark parents, they saw a need for a children’s book with a main character who has a birthmark. Their goal for Sam’s Birthmark is to teach children to embrace their own and each other’s differences starting at an early age.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

 

5 Key Attributes to Look for in a Startup Founder

Seed Equity Ventures is a sponsor of the Your Mark on the World Center, which publishes GoodCrowd.info.

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

Ordinary investors can now invest in startups as a result of the belated implementation of the JOBS Act in May. As you start thinking about investing in startups, one key is to identify an entrepreneur you can back.

Todd Crosland, CEO of our sponsor Seed Equity Ventures, invests in startups along with investors who use the platform. He is an accomplished entrepreneur himself. He recently wrote a blog post about the five key attributes to look for in a startup founder. I’m sharing them here with permission.

1. Passion

When an entrepreneur is pitching you his or her business, their passion for the venture should be apparent from the time they open their mouth. They need to be fully committed to the mission and exemplify that they will do whatever it takes to see it succeed.

2. Experience

Has the founder started a company before? How successful was it? If he or she was able to grow a successful business prior to this venture, they know the ropes better than a first-time founder and have proven they have the dedication it takes to see a company endure.

3. Adaptability

Plans and challenges change frequently while building a company. Someone who can adapt and focus on the need of the customer, rather than refuse to abandon the original idea, will be more suited to build a winning company.

4. Persistence

Acquiring customers and making sales is not an easy task when a company is getting off the ground. When the founder is likely one of just a few employees, if not the only one, they will need to be persistent, tenacious and motivated to keep the company moving forward. Some will want to throw in the towel after hearing “no” several times. A successful founder will keep pushing through until they hear “yes.”

5. Communication

If you are to be an investor in their company, you want a founder who will be able to communicate issues and how he or she plans to solve them effectively. A founder should be in touch with his or her investors regularly, providing updates on the company and its progress.

On Thursday, September 29, 2016 at 4:00 Eastern, Todd will join me here for a live discussion about these five keys and how they influence investment decisions. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

Todd Crosland, Seed Equity Ventures

Todd Crosland, Seed Equity Ventures

More about Seed Equity Ventures:

Twitter: @getseedequity

Seed Equity Ventures is a registered broker dealer with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and a member of both FINRA and SIPC, providing investment banking services to startups and growth companies from around the world. Seed Equity believes the best entrepreneurs in the world should be funded, no matter who they are or where they live. Investors throughout the world, should have a voice to choose what the future should look like. They should be able to support entrepreneurs who will build that future. Seed Equity was founded to provide growth equity to entrepreneurs and their startups in exciting industries globally.

Todd’s bio:

Twitter: @ToddCrosland

A seasoned entrepreneur, Mr. Crosland has demonstrated the ability to build successful teams and companies. Mr. Crosland was the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Interbank FX, LLC (“IBFX”; www.IBFX.com), from 2001 until he sold the firm in 2011. IBFX was a Futures Commission Merchant and Retail Foreign Exchange Dealer registered with the U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission. IBFX was also authorized and regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. IBFX was a worldwide leader in retail Forex trading services. IBFX offered individual traders, fund managers and institutional customer’s proprietary technology and tools to trade Forex online. IBFX saw Global customers grow to over 40,000, in more than 140 countries. Annual trading volume reached $750 billion. IBFX had 120 employees and offices in Beijing, China; Seoul, South Korea; Sydney, Australia; Salt Lake City, Utah and London, England. IBFX and Mr. Crosland have received many awards, including: The Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and numerous Inc. 500 awards. Mr. Crosland holds a B.A. in Business (Business Finance) from the University of Utah. He also currently holds the following Securities Licenses: Series 7, 24, and 63 and previously held series 3 and 30 Licenses.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and crowdfunding speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

Bobbi Rebell Launches Book With Fully Funded Crowdfunding Campaign for Teachers

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

Bobbi Rebell, Reuters financial news television anchor and author of the new book How to Be a Financial Grownup, is launching the book with a fully funded crowdfunding campaign for teachers and students via DonorsChoose. You get to give without giving!

Here’s how it works. 1) You buy a copy of the book. 2) You post about it the purchase on social media including a link to the crowdfunding campaign on DonorsChoose. 3) Send screen grabs of your receipt and your post to Bobbie here. 4) You will receive a gift code for $18 allowing you to back a teacher’s project to benefit students without using any of your own money! (Of course, there are some teachers who are hoping you might add a few bucks of your own.) See complete rules here.

Bobbi wrote her new book to be of help to more than just teachers and their students. As a financial news reporter, she sees a crisis brewing in America.

“We are in an economic crisis because so few of us know the basics about how to manage our financial lives as adults. Americans want to get better at paying attention to—and managing—their money, but with a lack of financial literacy education and information overload thanks to the internet, it has become a daunting and overwhelming task. We need to make financial education accessible, compelling and inviting so we can finally start acting like financial grownups,” she says.

It was important to her that her book be accessible to readers. “I wrote How to Be a Financial Grownup specifically as a book people would actually read. It is fun. At first it even might be mistaken for a personal finance ‘beach read,’ but it is anything but. The advice is serious and specific.”

“The stories are raw, real and, at times, shocking. Most of the early feedback I have received includes an example of how the reader made an immediate change based on the book’s recommendations, and got results. It has already been incredibly gratifying,” she adds.

Getting a new book into the hands of readers is difficult even for a public figure like Bobbi. She says, “The challenge is that there is an overwhelming amount of content out there, and it is tough to break through. I hope that between the incredible stories from inspiring role models, and my own efforts to get the word out, the book will raise awareness.”

She also hopes that the launch can raise real money for DonorsChoose.org. “I also hope it will bolster my efforts to raise money for teachers that have made financial literacy a priority through DonorsChoose.org.” HighTower/Elliot Weissbluth is co-sponsoring the Donors Choose campaign.

DonorsChoose’s founder Charles Best is featured in the book as a role model of financial literacy.

Bobbi says, “I believe the issue of financial literacy is beginning to gain more and more advocates, including several of the role models in my book, among them Tony Robbins, Kevin O’Leary, Amanda Steinberg, Sally Krawcheck, Bob Moritz and of course DonorsChoose.org’s Charles Best.”

Bobbi envisions her book as a key part of the solution to America’s problem with financial illiteracy. “Without a clear understanding of the basics of finance, we cannot improve the economic well-being of millions of Americans. Only 17 states require that high school students take a class in personal finance, according to the Council for Economic Education. How can we expect our young people to be financial grownups if we don’t give them the tools to be successful? How to Be a Financial Grownup is one of those tools,” she concludes.

On Wednesday, September 7, 2016 at 1:00 Eastern, Bobbi will join me here for a live interview to discuss her book and the crowdfunding campaign. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

Bobbi Rebell, author of "How to Be a Financial Grownup"

Bobbi Rebell, author of “How to Be a Financial Grownup”

More about How to Be a Financial Grownup:

How to Be a Financial Grownup provides a fresh, new approach to getting readers to pay attention to their money and take action. Just as parents sneak veggies into sweet treats to get their kids the nutrition they need, How to Be a Financial Grownup is designed to draw in readers with can’t-resist stories from incredibly successful Role Models, and then turn their attention to specific solutions readers can use to improve their financial well-being.

Bobbi’s bio:

Twitter: @bobbirebell

Bobbi Rebell is an award-winning journalist and advocate for financial literacy. She currently leads the U.S. business video unit for Reuters, the largest news organization in the world. In that role she anchors business reports, interviews top newsmakers and reports on breaking news. Her work is syndicated globally and seen by millions of viewers on Reuters broadcast and online clients. Bobbi also writes a globally syndicated personal finance column on millennials.

Her work has appeared on hundreds of media outlets including Reuters, Fox, CNBC, CNN, NYTimes.com, WSJ.com, MSN.com, Yahoo Finance, Huffington Post, USA Today, Time.com, Money.com, NYPost.com, PBS, and many more. She began her business news career as an intern at CNN, where she worked with top journalists including Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs and Stuart Varney. Her first job was at CNBC, after which she went on to work at CNN and Nightly Business Report.

Bobbi has interviewed hundreds of the world’s business leaders, some of whom have contributed to her first book “HOW TO BE A FINANCIAL GROWNUP: Proven advice from High Achievers on How to Live Your Dreams and Have Financial Freedom.” The book uses memorable stories to teach basic financial skills, inspiring readers to take control of their finances, and successfully navigate financial adulthood.

Bobbi is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. She holds a Certificate in Financial Planning from New York University. She lives in New York City with her husband, their son, her teenage stepkids, and morkie Waffles.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

 

 

5th Annual Global Crowdfunding Convention Approaches



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

The 5th Annual Global Crowdfunding Convention is coming up on October 15 through 17, 2016 in Las Vegas at Planet Hollywood.

Ruth Hedges, the showrunner for the convention, bills it as the biggest industry event of the year.

Featured speakers will include Slava Rubin, co-founder and CEO of Indiegogo; Lisa Song Sutton, Miss Nevada 2014; Vladimir I. Ivanov, PhD, of the SEC; and, yours truly, Devin Thorpe, among many others.

The speakers will include a number of people profiled on the Your Mark on the World Show, including Ruth, Douglas Ellenoff, Richard Swart, Kendall Almerico, Jilliene Helman, Mary Juetton, Jillian Sidoti, Samuel Guzik, and Howard Leonhardt.

Ruth says, “We bring together a dynamic program featuring exciting breakout sessions, crowdfunding superstars who have raised millions of dollars, office hours with investors and mentors, crowdfunding professional experts, and leading Fintech companies driving the growth of the industry. They will share actionable information and proven strategies on all facets of Reward, Donation,and Equity Crowdfunding. You will not find this anywhere else.”

The crowdfunding industry has been reenergized by the belated implementation of the JOBS Act Title III provisions allowing ordinary investors to participate in startup investing for the first time since the 1933 Act was passed during the Great Depression.

On Thursday, September 1, 2016 at 2:00 Eastern, Ruth will join me here for a live discussion about the Global Crowdfunding Convention, the speakers and the events associated with it. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

Ruth Hedges, courtesy of the Global Crowdfunding Convention

Ruth Hedges, courtesy of the Global Crowdfunding Convention

More about the Global Crowdfunding Convention:

Twitter: @thegccworld

The Global Crowdfunding Convention (GCC) consistently hand picks the best and the brightest in the field and covers all topics of crowdfunding. Produced by Crowdfunding industry experts, it attracts the world’s business leaders to discuss the industry’s most pressing issues. For more information visit www.thegccworld.com. Follow the hashtag #thegccworld on Twitter for real-time hashtag highlights.

Ruth’s bio:

Ruth E. Hedges is one the world’s foremost authorities on crowdfunding and is one of the original pioneers of the legislation that was ultimately signed into law as the JOBS Act on April 5, 2012. She was honored with an invitation to the White House for its Crowdfunding Champions of Change event. Ruth created and operates the worlds first Global Crowdfunding Convention (GCC) now in entering its 5th year. It is hosted every year in Las Vegas NV.

Ms Hedges is the founder of CrowdfundingCRM.com the industry’s first Marketing Automation CRM and Social media platform built for Crowdfunding and Crowd Financing.

The company aims to fill the void between basic email software and complex and expensive marketing software. Along with an easy to use Crowdfunding Task & Action Plan™-A virtual placeholder,guide and calendar for you to create a step by step crowdfunding plan with timelines for launching and running a successful and compliant campaign.

As an industry expert, Ms Hedges has been interviewed or quoted in over 50 major publications and was selected to teach the first university-level course on securities-based crowdfunding in the nation at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV).

Ms Hedges was also a Founding Board member of the CrowdFund Intermediary Regulatory Advocates (CFIRA) and CFPA. ​In 2012 Ms Hedges also launched globalcrowdfundingday.com to help spread the word across the globe.

Previously, Ms. Hedges was featured in the Chronicle of Philanthropy as well as the New York Times, the LA times and People magazine for her work with Oxfam America and the Hollywood Hunger Banquets.She was featured on ABC’s Home Show, and the Financial News Network produced a two-part series on Ms. Hedges for their show” American Entrepreneur.” She was invited to fill a cabinet seat on the Second Century Campaign board which raised over 16 million dollars to build the new Union Rescue Mission. She is the recipient of the Certificate of Appreciation from the City of Los Angeles for that work.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

 

How To Do Your Due Diligence Before Investing

Todd Crosland is the CEO and Founder of Seed Equity Ventures, which sponsors GoodCrowd.info.

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

Hundreds of millions of Americans who have been statutorily and practically prohibited from investing in startups are now allowed to do just that under two new regulations. The 2012 JOBS Act created new rules for Regulation A offerings and Regulation Crowdfunding. Neither requires investors t o meet a specific net worth or experience requirement. Common sense suggests it is time to ask the expert how to do “due diligence” on a startup investment. Todd Crosland, CEO and Founder of Seed Equity Ventures, offers some advice on conducting proper due diligence. He suggests exploring each of the following questions:

  • Is there at least a minimum viable product or prototype with proof of concept?
    • If possible, you’ll want to use the product. If not, you should at least see it. If there isn’t a working prototype, be sure to ask yourself if you are prepared to invest at such an early stage. The answers to the other questions should be overwhelmingly favorable before investing in what amounts to a business plan.
  • Is there any initial traction with active users?
    • It is possible to have an active community without a product, but generally some type of minimum viable product will have to be in the market to prove the concept in the market. If the product is available and there isn’t an active user community, it may be time to move along.
  • Are there at least two full time team members?
    • Experienced investors have seen this movie before. A lone wolf entrepreneur fails because he can’t share credit, can’t delegate, can’t work well with other people or just thinks he can do it all himself. Look for a solid, committed team before you commit your hard-earned money to the deal.
  • Have any team members successfully founded companies in the past?
    • While many first time entrepreneurs are successful and some who have been successful in the past, miss on subsequent efforts, you improve your odds of making a good investment by finding teams that have been successful before.
  • Was the team able to raise any funds prior to this raise?
    • It is scary for investors to be the first money invested in a company. If there are investors who have invested before, you may also want to know if they are investing with you in the current round. Are they still true believers? As a general rule, you don’t want to invest your money to help a prior investor get paid. Remember, this isn’t your problem until you put your money in.
  • What is the payback period on the investment?
    • Most startup investments are in the form of equity and it may be difficult to determine how long your money may be tied up, but spend some time trying to understand the development cycle, the time required to get the product or service to scale in the market and how an “exit” happens, that is, how you’ll get your money back,
  • Have you calculated when you are expected to see a return on investment?
    • Depending on the cash flow projections, you may get your investment back before you get a return on the investment. Be sure to calculate your expected returns based on realistic projections. Be sure that you are willing to lose all of your investment for the possibility of achieving that return.
  • Is the entrepreneur’s marketing plan realistic?
    • By comparing the projections of the company to actual results for other companies in the same sector you can get a feel for whether the marketing plan is realistic. Investments like Facebook are exceedingly rare; be cautious if an entrepreneur suggests topping their early results.
  • Do you fully understand the industry?
    • Owning and using a mobile phone doesn’t give you the expertise to make investments in mobile technology any more than eating gives you the experience required to run a restaurant. Be sure you either really come up to speed on the industry or find experts who have to advise you.
  • Have you looked closely at the competition?
    • Don’t ever let an entrepreneur tell you there is no competition. This fallacy not only suggests a problem with the business plan, it suggests a problem with the management team. Get to know the strengths and weaknesses of the competition before you invest.
  • How many investors are on the cap table?
    • The “cap table” is the roster of owners, some of whom frequently have special rights that you may or may not be getting with your investment. Be sure you understand not only the number of shareholders but also the rights that each has. Typically, the entrepreneur has common shares that are riskier than the preferred shares the investors receive.
  • How does the entrepreneur plan to use the next round of capital?
    • It is vitally important to understand the company’s planned use of proceeds from the investment. You want to understand exactly what the entrepreneur will do with the money you invest. While thoughtful entrepreneurs will never plan to use the money on fancy cars and bonuses, you want to go deep enough to understand how the money will be used to generate a positive return on investment.
  • What is the startup’s burn rate?
    • The “burn rate” is the pace at which the company is spending money faster than it comes in. Most startups do spend more money than they generate in revenue and often continue to do so for years as they scale up. Be sure to understand not only how much the company is burning now but how long they project burning cash before they reach the break-even point when revenue will match expenses.

Perhaps the most important part of due diligence is to get to know the management team and their capabilities. As you explore these questions with the team, use their feedback to understand their personalities, strengths and weaknesses. You’ll be counting on them to turn your investment into something bigger and better.

Even if you are focused on social impact more than profits, remember that if you lose your money on an investment you can never put it to work again. If you invest well and get your money back with some return, you can reinvest that money in another social venture and have more impact. Be sure to weigh your social impact and financial goals carefully.

On Thursday, August 25, 2016 at 5:00 Eastern, Todd will join me here for a live discussion about conducting due diligence on an investment. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

Todd Crosland, Seed Equity Ventures

Todd Crosland, Seed Equity Ventures

Twitter: @getseedequity

Seed Equity Ventures is a registered broker dealer with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and a member of both FINRA and SIPC, providing investment banking services to startups and growth companies from around the world. Seed Equity believes the best entrepreneurs in the world should be funded, no matter who they are or where they live. Investors throughout the world, should have a voice to choose what the future should look like. They should be able to support entrepreneurs who will build that future. Seed Equity was founded to provide growth equity to entrepreneurs and their startups in exciting industries globally.

Todd’s bio:

Twitter: @ToddCrosland

A seasoned entrepreneur, Mr. Crosland has demonstrated the ability to build successful teams and companies. Mr. Crosland was the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Interbank FX, LLC (“IBFX”; www.IBFX.com), from 2001 until he sold the firm in 2011. IBFX was a Futures Commission Merchant and Retail Foreign Exchange Dealer registered with the U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission. IBFX was also authorized and regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. IBFX was a worldwide leader in retail Forex trading services. IBFX offered individual traders, fund managers and institutional customer’s proprietary technology and tools to trade Forex online. IBFX saw Global customers grow to over 40,000, in more than 140 countries. Annual trading volume reached $750 billion. IBFX had 120 employees and offices in Beijing, China; Seoul, South Korea; Sydney, Australia; Salt Lake City, Utah and London, England. IBFX and Mr. Crosland have received many awards, including: The Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and numerous Inc. 500 awards. Mr. Crosland holds a B.A. in Business (Business Finance) from the University of Utah. He also currently holds the following Securities Licenses: Series 7, 24, and 63 and previously held series 3 and 30 Licenses.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and crowdfunding speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

 

Seed Equity Looks to Streamline Regulation A+ Offerings

Seed Equity Ventures is a sponsor of the Your Mark on the World Center, which publishes GoodCrowd.info.



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

Following the passage of the 2012 JOBS Act, the greatest excitement in the startup finance community was on Title III, which has now been implemented by the SEC as Regulation Crowdfunding. Title IV of the Act, however, is proving to be where the real action is.

The SEC’s implemented the rules for Regulation A+ on June 19. An article by Amy Wan at Crowdfund Insider provides some key statistics about offerings being conducted under the act. 105 offerings were filed, 44 of which were “qualified” by the SEC.

Elio Motors raised almost $17 million earlier this year. Paul Elio joined me twice in the last year to discuss his offering, here and here. The scale of that offering suggests appropriately that Reg A+ offerings are not intended for idea-stage or seed-stage transactions. They may be best seen as a path to an early and more affordable IPO, as the shares of a company that has completed a Reg A+ offering can be listed.

Seed Equity Ventures, a sponsor of our work here at GoodCrowd.info, is a FINRA-registered broker dealer providing investment banking services to early-stage companies. Founder and CEO Todd Crosland has indicated that the firm hopes to make it easier and more affordable for small companies to raise money with a Reg A+ offering.

Todd notes that Seed Equity’s inside legal counsel will work with companies and their legal advisors to ensure complete and affordable regulatory compliance. The firm will help with the company’s offering materials, the closing process and “everything in between,” he says.

Seed Equity has an online investing platform with thousands of investors already signed up. New investors can sign up quickly with their streamlined application process, Todd says.

The Seed Equity platform includes a communications portal so issuers (the companies raising money by issuing shares) can communicate efficiently with interested investors.

The platform also includes a connection to a transfer agent so that seamless records are kept of every shareholder from the first sale of shares.

Seed Equity also takes care of a rafter full of regulatory compliance steps from determining investor suitability, anti-money laundering rules and guidelines for knowing your customer (KYC).

All of the information on the platform is secured with Bank Level Security, according to Todd. The platform includes a secure data room where the issuer’s documents and financial records are stored for review by the investors performing their due diligence.

On Thursday, July 14, 2016 at 3:00 Eastern, Todd will join me here for a live discussion about regulation A+ and how Seed Equity can make completing an offering easier. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

Todd Crosland, Seed Equity Ventures

Todd Crosland, Seed Equity Ventures

More about Seed Equity Ventures:

Twitter: @getseedequity

Seed Equity Ventures is a registered broker dealer with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and a member of both FINRA and SIPC, providing investment banking services to startups and growth companies from around the world. Seed Equity believes the best entrepreneurs in the world should be funded, no matter who they are or where they live. Investors throughout the world, should have a voice to choose what the future should look like. They should be able to support entrepreneurs who will build that future. Seed Equity was founded to provide growth equity to entrepreneurs and their startups in exciting industries globally.

Todd’s bio:

Twitter: @ToddCrosland

A seasoned entrepreneur, Mr. Crosland has demonstrated the ability to build successful teams and companies. Mr. Crosland was the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Interbank FX, LLC (“IBFX”; www.IBFX.com), from 2001 until he sold the firm in 2011. IBFX was a Futures Commission Merchant and Retail Foreign Exchange Dealer registered with the U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission. IBFX was also authorized and regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

IBFX was a worldwide leader in retail Forex trading services. IBFX offered individual traders, fund managers and institutional customer’s proprietary technology and tools to trade Forex online. IBFX saw Global customers grow to over 40,000, in more than 140 countries. Annual trading volume reached $750 billion. IBFX had 120 employees and offices in Beijing, China; Seoul, South Korea; Sydney, Australia; Salt Lake City, Utah and London, England.

IBFX and Mr. Crosland have received many awards, including: The Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and numerous Inc. 500 awards.

Mr. Crosland holds a B.A. in Business (Business Finance) from the University of Utah. He also currently holds the following Securities Licenses: Series 7, 24, and 63 and previously held series 3 and 30 Licenses.

Community Builder Tackles Chicago’s South Side Using Crowdfunding

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.
Bernard Loyd, an MIT-educated activist born on Chicago’s West Side and raised in Liberia, has returned to Chicago to lead the rebuilding of a historically black community.

“Despite being the historic center of Black Chicago, a former cultural and commercial hub of Black America, and located only minutes from downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan, Bronzeville is one of the most economically-challenged communities in the United States and a food and jobs ‘desert,'” Bernard says.

With that as motivation, Bernard and his company, Urban Juncture, is out doing something about the problems he sees.

He says, “We are developing a culinary district celebrating unique Black cuisine from around the world in order to provide delicious food for residents, a one-of-a-kind dining destination for visitors, a significant number of locally accessible jobs, and wealth creation opportunities for restaurateurs and investors. We’ve also started development of a companion cultural district highlighting Bronzeville performance arts and hospitality.”

Rebuilding won’t be easy. Money is the biggest constraint on success, he says. “Accessing the capital needed to build culinary enterprises is our most difficult challenge.”

Bernard is raising $100,000 using crowdfunding site Wefunder today. Readers can learn more about the offering here.

The shortage of cash is a result of a complex variety of factors. “Our community was redlined for decades, starting with the federal government, and the after effects of this redlining, along with bad municipal policy, and unintended byproducts of civil rights have created a tremendous resource crunch in Bronzeville and similar communities,” Bernard says.

He acknowledges that the community’s problems go deeper and reach further than his program can solve, but he sees Urban Juncture as a part of a solution that will bring jobs and prosperity back to the neighborhood.

He says, “Gun violence is the single biggest problem that ails Chicago and, while our projects are having positive impact on our community, we need a much broader effort to create the volume of jobs, social connections, and sense of hope needed to eliminate the key root causes of violence.”

Bernard is looking beyond Chicago’s South Side. “We are creating a cuisine-based model for community revitalization that, with the appropriate tailoring and adaptation, can be applied to thousands of urban neighborhoods that lack good food, accessible jobs, and social capital.”

On Thursday, July 14, 2016 at noon Eastern, Bernard will join me here for a live discussion about his efforts to rebuild the South Side of Chicago and his crowdfunding campaign. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

Bernard Loyd, courtesy of Urban Juncture

Bernard Loyd, courtesy of Urban Juncture

More about Urban Juncture:

Urban Juncture, Inc. is a for-profit social enterprise focused on leveraging the unique cultural assets and underutilized talent of economically-challenged neighborhoods to catalyze revitalization. Urban Juncture, Inc. works closely with Urban Juncture Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit with the same goal.

Bernard’s bio:

A native of Chicago’s West Side, Bernard was raised primarily in Liberia, West Africa. He received undergraduate and graduate degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, including a doctorate in computational fluid dynamics and a masters of science in business.

Between 1990 and 2003, as an associate and partner of the management consulting firm of McKinsey & Company, Bernard helped senior corporate leaders around the world expand existing businesses, create new businesses, and improve operations. Bernard’s contributions at McKinsey include co-founding its global Agriculture and Food Chains initiative and leading world-wide client development and service in that arena. He also co-founded and led the firm-wide Black Client Service Staff initiative, which catalyzed substantial increases in the number of Black associates and partners.

Bernard created Urban Juncture, Inc., a community development firm and Urban Juncture Foundation to act as catalysts for the economic revitalization of urban communities and the empowerment of residents through the development of business and social ventures, provision of amenities, and creation of jobs.

He and his family reside in Chicago’s Bronzeville community.

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Devin is a journalist, author and speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

 

Flashfunders Joins Equity Crowdfunding Fray


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

With equity crowdfunding less than 60 days old, measuring from the date the SEC’s Regulation CF became effective in May, the marketplace is beginning to take shape. Flashfunders is one of the players offering a crowdfunding portal.

Vincent Bradley, the CEO of Flashfunders, shared his take on the emerging crowdfunding market.

Vincent sees two related problems in the market. “Historically, there have been large hurdles in both the fundraising and investing spaces, namely a lack of accessibility. Startups and small businesses have had limited options for financing, many of which were expensive and time consuming to pursue. Additionally, those startups have often been unable to offer equity to investors who are truly passionate about their business model.”

The JOBS Act, which directed the SEC to implement crowdfunding, was passed four years before the SEC rules became effective.

With respect to the second problem, Vincent notes, “Before Title III went into effect giving power to average investors, there were very few investment options available. Private investing was a right reserved only for the 1 percent, the accredited investors.”

Crowdfunding fundamentally addresses both problems. Vincent explains the company’s international approach, saying, “FlashFunders’ equity crowdfunding platform is giving startups and small businesses a progressive financing option. It empowers companies to raise capital from all types of investors – the crowd, international, and accredited- in a single fundraising round. The platform also provides everyday investors with the tools they need identify and invest in innovative businesses that they believe in.”

One of the challenges of crowdfunding comes directly from the delay in implementation. A burst of enthusiasm about the JOBS Act in 2012 and 2013 gave way to skepticism about some of the law’s specifics and investors willingness to participate in a market they’ve been blocked from for eight decades.

Vincent acknowledges some of the challenges that portals face in this market. “With uncharted territory comes a lack of public knowledge about the process, and general skepticism of whether it is a valid option or not. Our greatest challenge will be educating potential investors and companies of the financing model, as well as its risks and benefits.”

The SEC’s regulations, consistent with the JOBS Act, provide strict limitations. He says, “While companies using FlashFunders can raise an unlimited amount from international and accredited investors, under the Reg CF regulations they can only raise up to $1 million from the crowd in a single round. Additionally, crowd investors, whose yearly investment limits are calculated by their income, are self-certified. We provide an investment calculator for these investors to determine how much they can legally invest, but beyond that, platforms cannot control if unaccredited users are investing beyond their means. While the regulations can be confusing, we understand that they have been put in place for the protection of both investors and businesses using Reg CF.”

Despite the challenges and limitations, Vincent remains optimistic. “We think that equity crowdfunding has the potential to cause a major ripple effect across the country. Over time we may see a slow redistribution of wealth since everyday citizens have now been afforded the same investment options as accredited investors,” he says.

“Additionally, equity crowdfunding makes capital borderless. Businesses and investors are now able to access and invest capital no matter where they are located. For businesses this is especially powerful, since they are no longer forced to move to expensive cities to secure financing, and can instead build their companies in affordable environments,” Vincent concludes.

On Thursday, July 7, 2016 at 3:00 Eastern, Vincent will join me here for a live discussion about equity crowdfunding. We will also be joined by his colleague Meaghan Carlson, the Director of Marketing & Brand Strategy. 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 Flashfunders:

Twitter: @flashfunders

FlashFunders, the equity crowdfunding platform, connects global investors with innovative startups and small businesses raising capital, enabling everyone to own a piece of a company they believe in for as little as $50. FlashFunders empowers companies to convert their customers into shareholders and leverage investments from the crowd, international and accredited investors in a single fundraising round. With its streamlined deal execution and compliance, FlashFunders supports companies from the Form C prep through post-fundraising with FlashFunders Shareholder Services, and aims to help entrepreneurs activate a passionate community of shareholders to advocate for their businesses. Launched in 2014, FlashFunders is headquartered in Santa Monica, California.

Vincent Bradley, courtesy of Flashfuders

Vincent Bradley, courtesy of Flashfuders

Vincent’s bio:

Twitter: @vincentmbradley

Vincent Bradley is a serial entrepreneur with a diverse background in product and business development. Before co-founding FlashFunders, Bradley consulted for several technology startups, providing them with growth and product guidance. Prior to consulting, Vincent co-founded Ridotto, a virtual currency sports betting startup. Bradley also spent time working with Osprey Global Solutions (OGS), a frontier market consulting firm. While at Osprey, he focused on business development for OGS throughout the Middle East, Europe and North Africa. Prior to Osprey, Bradley was an early employee at FindTheBest, where he helped to build out its business development team.

Meaghan Carlson, courtesy of Flashfunders

Meaghan Carlson, courtesy of Flashfunders

Meaghan’s bio:

Twitter: @meagth

Meaghan Carlson is Director of Marketing & Brand Strategy at Santa Monica-based equity crowdfunding platform FlashFunders. Before joining FlashFunders, Carlson led major marketing campaigns for Disney and PayPal during her tenure at Mistress, an award-winning brand agency. Her in-depth strategic, digital marketing and communications background has driven the repositioning of European spirits brands and brand leadership of Viacom, Banana Republic and Sony. While at FlashFunders, Meaghan has proved her merit outside of her executive duties by contributing to the overall startup ecosystem as a published thought leader in top-tier publications. Her insights on widely discussed topics in venture capital, millennial finance insights and small business have been published in both TechCrunch and CBS Small Business Pulse.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

 

Whaaaat? This App Caps Donations at 3 Bucks!

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

The new Spotfund app is taking an interesting approach to fundraising for charity by capping donations at $3. The theory seems to be that if you are only allowed to give a little, everyone will. The cap removes the social pressure to give until it hurts!

Co-founder and CEO Sanford Kunkel says, “There is a disconnect between a problem and its call to action. Say you’re watching the news on the Flint Water Crisis and want to help. First, you have to get up off the couch, get to your laptop and register for the one of the many organizations or GoFundMe pages open to this. Then you have to determine how much you want to give to really make a difference and which charity to donate to.”

Spotfund, only available for Apple’s ios devices, simplifies donating by allowing you to do it from your phone–if you’re like me you have it with you all the time–and by placing a ridiculously low cap on donations. Using the app removes the fear that you’ll discover a cause to which you’ll want to give next month’s rent and allows you the comfort that you can come back and make a donation to any cause that moves you any time.

Sanford says that Spotfund takes the worry out of donating. “It’s part of our core values to vet and identify the single best charities to include. There was a need for a product that’s conducive with the lifestyle of mobile first today and Spotfund provides that. We’re putting democracy into charity – it’s not just a donation platform, it’s an awareness platform.”

The first big challenge Spotfund has is convincing people that tiny donations actually help. “A challenge we’re facing is convincing people that giving $1, $2 or $3 can actually make a difference, as long as they can harness the power of your social network and inspire their friends to give, as well,” Sanford says.

Spotfund doesn’t help everyone in every circumstance–this isn’t GoFundMe. “One limitation is that funds raised through Spotfund must go to a registered nonprofit. This should give our users confidence that money will be going to the right place, but we understand that in some cases, people want to give funds directly to individuals, without having to go through a nonprofit,” he continues.

Sanford’s vision for Spotfund is to activate an entire generation of digital natives to giving in a way that is comfortable for them. “We’re changing what it means to be civic minded. By creating awareness and actually providing people the medium to make an impact, we’re putting the power of change directly in the hands of millennials,” he concludes.

On Thursday, July 7, 2016 at noon Eastern, Sanford will join me here for a live discussion about the app and how people are using it to enable change they care about. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

Sanford Kunkel, courtesy of Spotfund

Sanford Kunkel, courtesy of Spotfund

More about Spotfund:

Twitter: @spotfund

Spotfund is a mobile micro-donation platform that allows users to fund causes and current events with only $1, $2 or $3. With Spotfund, you can easily discover and donate to the stories the world is talking about. You can also create a story of your own to raise funds for a cause that matters to you. With donations capped at $3, the platform is designed for everyone looking to make a difference. And by closely integrating with major social networks, Spotfund helps turn conversations into results.

Sanford’s bio:

Sanford Kunkel is Co-Founder and CEO of Spotfund. Sanford oversees Spotfund’s strategic direction, branding initiatives and organizational culture. Sanford has a successful track record of bringing brands to market, having led several entrepreneurial ventures in real estate and hospitality. He co-created the downtown NYC hotel The Bowery House as well as The Surfrider Malibu, which is set to open across from the Malibu Pier in Fall 2016. Sanford holds a B.S. in business administration from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. His personal causes include historic preservation and groups advocating on behalf of small businesses.

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Devin is a journalist, author and speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

 

3 Brain Friendly Insights to Be a Better Leader


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

Laurie Carey is an educator and consultant who provides “brain-based professional development for the classroom, the conference room and the boardroom.” She is the founder of both Laurie Carey Consulting and the nonprofit We Connect the Dots. Laurie was introduced to us by our sponsor, Eclat Impact.

We Connect the Dots is currently in the midst of a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo with the audacious goal to raise $1 million for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) education.

Laurie connected with me to share some insights for us on operating in a more “brain-friendly” way. She says, “Understanding how your brain works, allows you to communicate better, to be a better leader, to be a better teacher, to be a better parent, and to handle life’s challenges both professionally and personally.”

Here are her three observations:

Life is just a state of mind:

The key to successfully developing positive change is to apply brain-friendly coaching to support the ability to shift from being uncomfortable to getting comfortable. Change can be difficult, and we can get caught up in our own brain bias, which prevents us from moving forward or stretching outside our comfort zone. The insight to solving problems can be right in front of us, but we can be blinded by our own bias without consciously even knowing it.

Diversity brings more innovation:

Diversity comes in many forms, the more diverse your team is, the greater opportunity for innovation to occur. Diversity provides the opportunity to see a problem from multiple perspectives or from multiple lenses. To create successful teams we first have to provide the right environment for them to share their values, their strengths, and how they can support each other’s success.

Disruption creates an opportunity to learn.

We live in a world where technology is changing our lives constantly. Businesses have to continually reinvent themselves to remain relevant. Those that are lifelong learners embrace the disruptions with interest. Disruptions create new opportunities to change the world; you can either be the disrupter or be disrupted.

Laurie Carey, courtesy of We Connect the Dots

Laurie Carey, courtesy of We Connect the Dots

On Thursday, June 23, 2016 at 3:00 Eastern, Laurie will join me for a live discussion about her three insights into changing the way our brains process information to improve the way we interact with the world and ultimately change the world. 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 We Connect the Dots:

Our mission is to excite, inform and educate students about Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) careers.  Through a collaboration with the community, education, government and the technology industry, WCTD provides awareness and education of the 21st Century workforce skills, as well as the opportunities available to students embracing STEAM careers.  Impacting students at a local, national and global level, our programs create a hunger for learning that empowers students to find their own paths to success.

More about Laurie Carey Consulting, LLC:

Twitter: @bfconnections

Brain-based professional development for the classroom, the conference room, and the boardroom Laurie Carey Consulting was founded with a mission to use brain-based learning and coaching models to create positive outcomes across education and professional development communities, where technology is used as a tool for supporting more productive and engaging learning experiences. Understanding more about the brain allows us to facilitate more effective one-on-one and one-to-many interactions that help generate positive and empowering outcomes, supporting both teachers and students in classroom engagements, as well as supporting both managers and employees in the workplace.

Laurie’s bio:

Twitter: @ljcoach

Laurie Carey is a new American educator – challenging the problems of American education with a multi-prong vision that brings the tools of business success, innovative educational practices, and strategic technology to schools, districts, universities, teachers, students and parents. Laurie Carey is not the proprietor of another educational product or service. The entities that she has founded, Laurie Carey Consulting, LLC and We Connect The Dots, Inc., are driven by ideas, passions, individual skills, partnerships and the efficacy of research. Both entities utilize mutually supporting designs to bring American education to a new level of effectiveness and leadership by replacing stagnation and irrelevance with passionate motivational learning and teaching.

It is one thing to discuss technology as a transformative and equalizing learning approach. It is quite another to explore the depths of this transformation. Laurie Carey Consulting, LLC deploys the teams that unleash the ideas that propel student learning and catalyze systemic change. Partnerships with industry organizations to bring a new understanding to the relevance of the Internet as powerful force to developing learning skills. Laurie Carey Consulting teams create Work-Based Learning experiences that prepare all students to think as innovators, entrepreneurs, and individuals with unique skills to offer a 21st century world employing tools such as brain-based coaching and research metrics. Laurie Carey Consulting teams address the whole of a school or district’s needs with educational strategies, funding plans, research frameworks and interventions designed for the success of all students.

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Devin is a journalist, author and speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

 

 

 

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