Crowdfunding, or crowdfinancing, is a method of collecting many small contributions, by means of an online funding platform, to finance or capitalize a popular enterprise. As crowdfunding is so new, there is much confusion in the marketplace about it—for example, many people still think of Kickstarter as the epitome of crowdfunding.
This article takes a different approach from the previous one. Here I tell you about common omissions and mistakes in business plans, any of which should make you cautious about the company’s offering.
On equity crowdfunding portals and platforms, you will have an opportunity to collaborate on deal selection and due diligence with other investors. Like social networks, the portals/platforms will show profiles of the investors who participate in these discussions, so you can assess their expertise and credibility.
The first step in the seven-step crowdfunding investment plan is to calculate the maximum amount of money that you are allowed to invest each year in Title III offerings.
Supporters of crowdfunding acknowledge that some fraud will probably occur, as it does everywhere—including the public securities markets. But they point to the low instance of fraud in rewards-based crowdfunding in the United States, and in equity-based crowdfunding in Australia (since 2006) and the United Kingdom (since 2012), where unsophisticated investors participate in private securities offerings.
Spread out your crowdfunding investments, ideally 10 to 15 deals, over three to five years. Develop an equity crowdfunding budget for the coming 12 months. Be patient and select offerings that are most likely to result in strong ROI.
The first rule of investing is: diversify. The benefits of diversification—spreading the risk—apply not only to your overall investment portfolio (on a macro level), but to each asset class (on a micro level) as well.
Title III of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act of 2012 allows all investors, regardless of income or net worth, to invest in startups and growing private companies via funding portals that are registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
When you start looking for offerings to invest in, look first in the industries where you have knowledge or experience; or look for consumer products and services that you are familiar with. Later you can consider offerings in certain other industries for diversity. Make sure you understand the basics of private securities: stock, LLC shares, and convertible debt.
Title IV of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act of 2012 expands the moribund Regulation A exemption by increasing the raise limit from $5 to $50 million. Non-accredited investors could participate in Reg A offerings before 2012, and they still can under Title IV but with certain limits.
Based on your preferences for industries, kinds of securities, and minimum investment, pick from a list or directory of funding portals and broker-dealer platforms that list suitable offerings. Review the intermediaries’ selection criteria and track records before registering.