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Crowdfunding, I Have Invested, What’s Next?

Crowdfunding, I Have Invested, What’s Next?

It’s 2013. The crowdfunding regulations are finalized and effective. You have invested in your first crowdfunded company and you are now officially an owner of that company. What’s next?

Traditionally, an investor’s role after they have invested in a company is determined by the amount and type of ownership the investor has in that company. Equity-based crowdfunding will likely change this, but not how you would expect. In most cases, crowdfunding investors will contribute collectively to fund up to twenty percent of a crowdfunded company. That fact coupled with the investment limitations set forth in the JOBS Act (the greater of $2,000 or 5% of the investor’s annual income or net worth if either the investor’s annual income or net worth is less than $100,000) will limit the size of each crowdfunding investor’s ownership in companies that utilize the exemption. By traditional standards, that would tend to indicate that the role of the investor will be quite limited. It’s a good thing that equity crowdfunding unshackles traditional investor roles!

Equity crowdfunding thrives on every crowdfunding investor playing a critical role in the success of a company regardless of how small the investor’s ownership amount may be. The role is not just a financial role, but also a spirited role that injects adrenaline into the crowdfunded company’s brand. Crowdfunding investors realize that they are playing a substantial part in jumpstarting a business. They aren’t investing $100 into a blue chip company like IBM or Coca-Cola. Their investment is quite different because the crowdfunded company depends on their support. Further, the investors’ vigor and representation of the brand will strengthen the crowdfunded company’s chances of becoming that blue chip company.

Another way for a crowdfunding investor to contribute to their new company’s success is to let the company’s employees work hard to get them a return on their investment. Investors want the entrepreneurs to be busy driving their business forward as opposed to managing hundreds and hundreds of crowdfunding investors. The best way for a crowdfunding investor to participate in generating a return on their investment is by actively promoting the companies that they have invested in. The communication from crowdfunded company and investor will come from the market (or perhaps the Securities and Exchange Commission “SEC”) ironing out the process. For example, if a funding portal requires that companies seeking funding through their site must provide crowdfunding investors a quarterly update on how things are going and that requirement is favorable to all parties involved then that standard could be adopted by the industry. This will hold true for other investor roles as well.

As far as the law goes on what an investor’s role is post funding, the JOBS Act is virtually silent. However, one thing that investors can count on is reports of the results of operations and financial statements of the company they funded at least once a year. The content of those reports is up to the SEC to decide; so that leaves the investor hardly any information at this moment in time on what to expect post funding. Like many other parts of the JOBS Act, the rules by the SEC will shed light on how an investor’s role after a successful funding campaign. Additionally, market participants will also play a large part in the idiosyncrasies of the relationship between crowdfunding investors and crowdfunded companies.

Jason Burmer, JD
VC Relations

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