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Crowdfunding is Here and so is the Infrastructure

CROWDFUNDING IS HERE AND SO IS THE INFRASTRUCTURE

The language of crowd funding technology, capital formation, the requirements and the rules and regulations has been centered on Funding Platforms for the Intermediaries (Brokers and Register Funding Portals). However, some thought leaders in the industry have been listening and speaking a different language and realized that in order for crowd fund investing to be sustainable, the physical components of interrelated systems that provide the framework, commodities and services to the market place is essential to enable, sustain, and enhance the physical and organization structures for the crowd funding ecosystem to function properly. 

Companies like the Funding Roadmap, Crowdnetic, CrowdBureau, Gate Technologies and CrowdCheck have banded together to create solutions that span the life of a company, from idea to sustainability. Viewed functionally, the crowdfunding infrastructure facilitates the production and maintenance of compliant equity and debt based offerings that will eventually list on registered funding portal platforms that will serve as conduits of salient information for the investors.  These services cover reporting, real-time market data, ratings, research, anti-money laundering, compliance, escrow services, clearing and settlement.

Infrastructure companies play a significant part in evolving the crowd fund ecosystem, both in terms of where the interconnections are placed, made accessible and in terms of how much information can be carried and how quickly. As required in crowd investing, security, transparency and information will be required in order to help investors, “the Crowd,” make informed decisions. Crowd intelligence along with aggregated data and research services that track the lifespan of an issuer’s capital raising efforts make the provision of these services unique and absolutely necessary to the long-term health and sustainability of the crowd investing industry.

Every day debt and equity raises are being conducted on pioneering sites like TheFundersClub and CircleUp that allow investors to invest relatively small amounts in start-ups and operating companies, alike. While these sites cater to accredited investors, defined by the Securities and Exchange Commission as anyone making over $200,000, individually, or $300,000 jointly per year, or who have a net worth (minus their primary residence) of $1 million, that’s a lot of individuals. The JOBS Act, Title III caters to the non-accredited investor making the landscape that much larger.  The reality is the JOBS Act, even if the SEC delays their rulemaking, opened America’s eyes to the fact that laws already existed that allowed emerging companies to gather investments from a large group of investors. The use of the internet for this activity is now a means to reach more investors efficiently.

It is critical to observe that equity and debt based crowdfunding is not the Kickstarter model, which is reward/ donor based and allows ideas like video games and gadgets to be pre-sold to the masses. Equity and debt based crowdfunding, allows for shares of a company to be sold to non-accredited investors whereby transactions are facilitated on a funding portal and will be a welcome and new critical component to the traditional capital markets. What self-directed investing, vis a vis online brokers like eEtrade and Schwab, did for the masses in the ‘90s crowd investing will do for the private placement market.

With 2013 quickly approaching, it is important for the ears of the “Crowd” to become fine tuned to the language that the crowdfunding industry speaks. Realizing that this new way to create capital formation is not solely dependent on having a great idea or the Funding Portals, but rather the infrastructure, information and ancillary services that will enrich the end-to-end experience of the entrepreneurs and the investors.  Third party service providers like the Funding RoadMap, Crowdnetic, CrowdBureau, Gate Technologies and Crowdcheck to name a few will continue to make steady strides in developing a healthy ecosystem that will support capital formation, lend a helping hand towards education and further advance the crowd investing  industry.

 

Luan Cox

Kim Wales,