How Does Social Media Impact RegCF Offerings?

Reg CF allows companies to raise up to $5 million through an SEC-registered intermediary.  Since increasing this limit from $1.07 million in 2021, private companies have raised over $1 billion in Reg CF offerings. This highlights Reg CF’s incredible success in opening the doors to capital for these issuers. For many of these offerings, social media is a key component to success by increasing investor awareness and conducting a successful offering.

 

Social Media’s Impact on Reg CF

 

Social media is essential for companies looking to make a Reg CF offering. It can build awareness and interest among institutional and retail investors and help generate traffic to their offering’s listing on a funding portal or the broker-dealer who hosts the offering. It can expand your crowdfunding campaign’s reach using social tools to raise more money.

 

As soon as companies file their Form C with the SEC, they can begin to communicate outside the funding platform about their offering. However, they must be careful about what they say. They are limited to communications that don’t mention the terms of the offering and “tombstone” communications. Issuers can continue marketing their product or service as usual, as securities regulations understand that the issuer still is running a business and trying to generate a profit. After the Form C has been filed, issuers can also increase the amount of marketing materials they create, as long as they follow SEC guidelines. Issuers are also subject to anti-fraud rules, even in non-terms communications.

 

Capitalizing on Campaigns

 

Building awareness and interest in your Reg CF offerings using social media, you reach investors who may have been unaware of opportunities to invest. Thanks to Reg CF,  startups and established companies alike can get started fundraising quickly with lower initial costs than traditional methods of raising capital. When combined with social media, the result is an effective way to get the word about the raise to many people hoping that they turn into an investor.

 

It has been made clear that social media and mobile marketing are necessary parts of Reg CF offerings. Social media marketing is an increasingly important part of any company’s digital strategy, so having these platforms as part of Reg CF efforts will give issuers the best chance for success with campaigns. It also helps businesses target their current audience to invest in their offering.

 

Social media is an excellent tool for companies to use when making Reg CF offerings. Whether you are looking to raise more money or get the word out about your company, social media can be used in various ways that will help your business grow and succeed with Reg CF.

Private Securities and Crowdfunding Surge is Forecast to Continue in 2022

This article was written by our KorePartners at Rialto Markets. View the original post here.

 

Crowdfunding had another record year in 2021 and is forecast to soar even higher in 2022.

According to Pitchbook data, global crowdfunding exploded from $8.61 billion in 2020 to $113.52 billion last year – a 1,021% increase. The US market alone doubled year on year through Regulation CF and A+, with much higher numbers being raised and over 32% oversubscribed, according to SEC (Securities & Exchange Commission) filings.

Recent analysis of key US private equity crowdfunding platforms such as Wefunder and Republic, showed their top 50 most invested Regulation CF (raises of up to $5 million) crowdfunding offerings raised more than $171 million in November alone from over 113,000 investors – an average of $1,315 per investor – while December tracked at similar levels going into the holiday season.

In the Regulation A+ category, where private companies can raise up to $75 million annually, SEC EDGAR filings for 2021 show 343 US-based high growth private issuers raised $8.6 billion in total.

The peak months for Regulation A+ capital raises were November and December, suggesting that 2022 will double the amount raised last year.

The market is also expected to expand significantly in 2022 and 2023 as regulated alternative secondary market trading platforms, known as ATSs, start to offer more potential liquidity in a private securities market set to grow from $7 trillion in 2021 to $30 trillion in 2030, according to Forbes.

Innovative US-based broker-dealer and a leading ATS provider specializing in private securities, Rialto Markets, predicts this trend will continue as more and more ambitious private companies in the US and worldwide apply this approach to their fundraising, leading to future secondary share trading.

Rialto Markets’ COO and Co-founder Joel Steinmetz said: “There were record months in the US crowdfunding sector during the first half of 2021 – with May being the highest – but there was a much steeper growth curve in the second half of the year, with record investment levels in the final quarter.

“We see Regulation CF and Regulation A+ public offerings complementing each other and while April was the lowest capital raising month, the sector surged in late summer, and November closed as the highest month.

“December in the US now looks like it may have matched or exceeded November, which sets the tone for a buoyant 2022, according to our research, and data coming from the major crowdfunding platforms and authorities like Pitchbook.

“We are seeing this pattern ourselves with over $730 million in signed contracts for Rialto Markets at the start of 2022 alone from high growth private companies in the primary market, using our broker-dealer infrastructure and technology.

“Additionally, in the secondary market, we are being swamped with requests from high growth private companies and marketplaces that offer fractionalized securities wishing to offer regulated trading to their investors through our SEC and FINRA regulated ATS secondary trading platform.”

Digital Twin pioneer Cityzenith, a company with three successful crowdfunding raises in three years, saw a big upsurge in investment during December and early January towards the 1st quarter 2022 close of its final $15 million crowdfunding raise.

It will then move onto funding from institutions that have followed the company’s rise during this process.

Cityzenith CEO and Founder Michael Jansen said: “Crowdfunding isn’t for the faint-hearted. You must have a strong strategy, a large following, and investors who are going to back the offerings from the outset.

“But it’s also about positioning the brand to win new partnerships and potential larger institutional investors due to the momentum you build through these Regulation CF and Regulation A+ investment offerings.”

The electric vehicle company Atlis Motors had one of the fastest and most over-subscribed Regulation CF raises of 2021, attracting its full $5 million in just a few weeks with 4,123 new investors, further illustrating the importance of building a community of investors and advocates for the future of your brand.

Shari Noonan, CEO and Co-founder of Rialto Markets – the broker-dealer for both Cityzenith and Atlis Motors – responded: “These are impressive and ambitious private companies who know what it takes to prepare and build a community for either a smaller Regulation CF raise or a much larger Regulation A+ offering.”

“2022 is going to be a massive year for the private securities market, especially Regulation CF and Regulation A+ capital raising campaigns for high growth private companies.

“We are especially excited about movement in secondary trading for private companies, and by providing a platform to potentially unlock value for investors much earlier through a regulated ATS such as our own Rialto Markets secondary trading platform.”

Is Email Still King for Reg A, Reg CF, and Reg D Marketing?

This article was originally written by KorePartner Dawson Russell of Capital Raise Agency. View the original post here.

 

Email marketing has been around for a while. You might even be surprised to read that email has been around since the ’70s — over 50 years ago!

 

You’d think that as fast as the digital world moves, such a dinosaur of a marketing strategy would be nothing more than a relic or extinct.

But it’s not.

In fact, email marketing is somewhere in the ballpark of 40 times more of an effective marketing strategy than social media marketing, according to a study conducted by McKinsey & Company.

So why is that?

How is email marketing still king when we now have search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, mobile marketing, pay-per-click, content marketing, and influencer marketing all at our fingertips?

Here’s are 3 of the main reasons:

1. It’s Highly Customizable

The most crucial and effective way to have success with your email marketing strategy is to implement what’s known as “customer segmentation.” This means you can use customers’ recent and relevant searches & interests to your advantage and generate custom-made emails for them in a way that is MUCH more effective than other approaches. Customer segmentation also allows you to be much more tactful with your email timing, so you can avoid spamming their inboxes.

Even better, you can pivot your customer segmentation strategy quickly by reviewing click rates, bounce rates, and subscribe & unsubscribe rates.

2. It Provides Better Conversion Rates

It doesn’t matter if your focus is on Reg A email marketing, Reg CF email marketing, or Reg D email marketing, it will still have a better conversion rate than any other method.

Email has been traditionally regarded as the most transactional part of a company or business.

Think about it.

You can generate traffic to your business and/or convert a visitor to an investor with just a single click of a link. They can reply directly, sign-up for other newsletters, forward the email to other potential investors, and more.

According to a study done by Statista, over 93% of Americans between the ages of 22-44 used email regularly, and over 90% of Americans between the ages 45-64. Even 84% of people 65+ were regular email users.

3. It’s a Cinch to Automate

Once you get everything written out and running properly, you can launch a highly effective Reg A, Reg CF, or Reg D marketing campaign, with minimal effort compared to other methods.

With the right automation tools to go along with your campaign strategy, you can create and deliver automated emails that are not only relevant to your subscriber list but generate leads and new investors at the same time.

In Conclusion…

Email marketing really is still the best way to reach out to potential investors and remains the king of the digital marketing world. When utilized and implemented properly, it can build leads to potential investors, and strengthen brand trust and loyalty in a way that enables your fund to grow more than you would’ve thought possible.

PS: did you know that adding PS to your email marketing campaigns could increase click-through rates by an extra 2%?

End to End for RegCF

When the JOBS Act was signed into law in 2012, it brought about many changes in the private capital markets, namely, the dramatic increase in the availability of capital from more expansive pools of investors. Later on, 2016 saw Regulation Crowdfunding, also known as Title III or RegCF, go live. At that point, US-based issuers could raise up to $1.07 million from both accredited and nonaccredited investors. Additionally, companies in the startup stage through to full operating companies across all industries can take advantage of this exemption to raise capital. 

 

However, due to the comparatively low limit of RegCF in the early days when the regulation was introduced RegCF was largely overlooked by many companies seeking to raise capital. Now, it continues to gain momentum due to the limit of RegCF increasing to $5 million in March of 2021. Since then, RegCF has reached a significant milestone. In October 2021, companies surpassed a cumulative total of $1 billion raised under the regulation. Now that the limit has increased nearly five times from where it started, we expect the adoption of Reg CF to continue to grow much faster than the half-decade it took to reach $1B.

 

Getting Started with RegCF

 

For issuers looking to use Regulation CF for their offering, it is relatively straightforward for those looking to raise up to $1.07 million. For raises of this size, the issuer is not required to submit audited financial statements to the SEC. They must retain a securities lawyer to complete their Form C and obtain a CrowdCheck Due Diligence report. Next, the issuer must find an SEC-registered transfer agent to manage corporate books and cap tables, a requirement under the regulation. Additionally, the issuer must also select a FINRA-registered broker-dealer to raise capital directly from the issuer’s website. 

 

The process for raising up to $5 million is pretty similar. However, the main difference is that issuers require an audit. With this being the only difference, there is not much in terms of the change to the regulatory and compliance requirements.

 

What do RegCF Broker-Dealers Need?

 

For broker-dealers working on RegCF raises, it is something different than anything else they’ve done; they need to be prepared to handle things they may not have needed to consider in other types of capital raising activities. These things include:

  • Investment Landing Page: Once the landing page is created and ready to go live (a step sometimes done by investor acquisition firms), the broker-dealer must manage it. This includes taking over or registering the domain name. This ensures the broker-dealer is in total control, with the ability to shut it down or change/amend things as needed. 
  • Back Office: After an issuer signs up with a broker-dealer, the broker-dealer provides them with the escrow and payment rails. For the escrow account, the broker-dealer is on title as a broker-dealer so that they handle all payment components like credit cards, ACH, wire, cryptocurrency, and IRA. Typically, the bank or trust providing the escrow account will also offer wire and ACH. Since broker-dealers currently cannot hold any crypto, crypto payment options allow issuers to submit crypto that gets exchanged into fiat USD. 
  • Due Diligence: The broker-dealer will be able to rely on the CrowdCheck report, an industry standard. 
  • Registration: The broker-dealer must be registered in all 50 states to be able to provide the best help to an issuer.

 

What Compliance is Needed?

 

The compliance officer also has responsibilities they need to meet for a successful RegCF raise. This included performing ID, AML, KYC, and suitability on each investor who is investing in the offering. Plus, while accredited investors aren’t restricted to the amount of money they can invest through RegCF, the compliance officer can request an individual to go through verification, but it is not necessary. The compliance officer must also manage the KYC process through the entire offering until the money is released to the issuer. Another new change to RegCF is that companies can have rolling closes, which means that they can start closing each time they hit their minimum. When it comes to closing, the broker-dealer must ensure that the company has filed its Form C amendment.

 

What Does an Issuer Do to Prepare?

 

While the broker-dealer fills their component of the RegCF raise, an issuer will typically work closely with an investor acquisition firm to bring the eyeballs to the website. The issuer is responsible for meeting their regulatory requirements, like preparing their audit if raising over $1.07 million. Even if an issuer does not have their audit ready, they can still start their raise up to the $1.07 million amount. Once the audit is done, the offering can be amended to go to $5 million instead. Since securities are being sold directly on the issuer’s website, the traffic they’re driving there is only for them. Previously, when RegCF offerings could only be done on a registered funding portal, traffic would be directed to a site with many other offerings as well. 

 

This is not to say that funding portals don’t serve a purpose; instead, some issuers (especially those who have grown out of the startup phase) prefer more direct traffic. Currently, there are over 70 funding portals (and more on the way). Each option has pros and cons depending on the issuer and the raise that must be considered when launching RegCF. Additionally, some investor acquisition firms prefer an individualized landing page because it directs traffic and attention solely to the issuer.

 

Investment Process for RegCF

 

When the investor (or potential investor) goes to the landing page and begins the investment process, the first thing collected is their email address. This allows the investor acquisition firm to remarket to the individual if they left the page before completing an investment. Every day, a report of drop-offs will be provided that details which stage of the investment process the investor left. Plus, data is provided as to where each investor is coming from.

 

 After the initial stage of the process, the investor will proceed to enter their information, like how much they want to invest, their income, how they want to invest, and other data necessary to complete the investment. Once all of the information is entered, the investor will review and sign the subscription agreement before submitting their investment. 

 

Once the subscription agreement has been submitted, the investor receives an email allowing them to register their account with the issuer’s private label page to manage the investment they’ve made. Even though the broker-dealer manages the website, the investors’ experience end-to-end is with the issuer. Once the investment is completed, the investor will be able to find it in their portfolio. Through the portfolio, the SEC-registered transfer agent and the company manage the cap table and provide individual investors access to their investments.  For each investment, the investor can view all of its details rather than keeping that information in paper documents. They can see what rights they have for each security, how much they invested, how they paid, etc. 

 

Through the entire investment process, not only is the investor involved but there are many other parties involved. Beyond helping the company set up the investment, the broker-dealer also helps to ensure that the issuer has everything ready in their platform. The broker-dealer is then responsible for ensuring that the offering and investors are vetted into the platform as well. Additionally, the compliance officer will also have to verify the investors through the platform’s compliance management system. Once the investor is approved, their funds are sent to escrow, which the broker-dealer monitors to make sure they’ve all arrived. When the minimum is met, the broker-dealer closes, allowing the company to receive their funds and the cap table to be updated. 

 

For 2022, we anticipate that RegCF will be a game-changer. The amount of capital raised under the regulation makes it a perfect fit for seed and Series A companies that may have otherwise used RegD. Like RegD, issuers can target accredited investors, but they can also target nonaccredited as well. This significantly increases the potential pool of investors and opportunities available to raise capital. While there are an estimated 8.5 million accredited investors, only 110,000 have been verified. When considering nonaccredited as well, this number grows substantially to 233 million individuals. 

Crowdfunding with IRAs

This blog is was written by our KorePartners at New Direction Trust Co. View the original article here

 

It would be an understatement to say the financial landscape has changed in the past decade. Businesses accept payments with Square, investors buy stocks through apps while listening to podcasts, and cryptocurrency went from geek niche to cultural phenomena overnight. Alongside these is another monumental shift: crowdfunding.

What is crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is a type of investment in a business or venture. However, unlike angel investing or stock purchases, crowdfunding typically involves smaller sums from a large group.

There are multiple types of crowdfunding, each with a slightly different purpose:

  • Rewards-based crowdfunding: This type of crowdfunding is the most well-known, thanks to Kickstarter. In rewards-based crowdfunding, people invest in a company in exchange for a reward, typically a discounted final product or service.
  • Donation-based crowdfunding: This is charitable crowdfunding, in which people donate their money expecting nothing in return. Donation-based crowdfunding is typically used by charities looking to fund a project or to help with medical bills or recovery expenses via sites like GoFundMe.
  • Debt-based crowdfunding: This type of crowdfunding is used when a company needs a large sum of money to cover some kind of expense or acquisition. In exchange for donations, the recipient typically promises some kind of repayment to those donating.
  • Equity-based crowdfunding: In equity-based crowdfunding, investors put their money into a company in exchange for shares. This type of crowdfunding gives startups the chance to grow through funding, and investors the opportunity for a potential return on their investment.
  • Real estate crowdfunding: This type of crowdfunding involves multiple people pooling their money together to fund any kind of real estate project. Real estate crowdfunding can be as simple as buying a rental property with multiple people or funding a new building entirely.

Beyond the above-listed types, there are other types of crowdfunding that offer different returns and possibly perks for investors.

How does crowdfunding with an IRA work?

Crowdfunding with a self-directed account is surprisingly straightforward, thanks largely to the 2011 JOBS Act. Crowdfunding with a self-directed account involves only a few simple steps.

  • Verify you have the right kind of tax-advantaged account. Crowdfunding through your IRA or Solo 401k requires a self-directed IRA or Solo 401k.
  • Choose a trust company specializing in self-directed IRAs or Solo 401ks to custody the asset you’re interested in. This company will handle the details of ensuring your assets are used to crowdfund the asset of your choice.
  • Open and fund your account. This is typically done via a transfer or rollover of existing funds from an IRA or Solo 401k, or you can choose to contribute new funds subject to contribution limits.
  • Select what kind of investments you’d like to make, real estate crowdfunding or another type of crowdfunding.
  • Complete the investment process and monitor your account for performance.

If the above process sounds simple, good, it should be. The right trust company will take care of the transactions while leaving you in the driver’s seat.

Four Red Flags When Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding can make for great investment opportunities and generate excellent returns. But, like all investing, crowdfunding involves risks.

  • The company has no online footprint. If you Google the company or founders and find nothing, this is a big red flag. Any enterprise trying to raise money should have some level of awareness around their product or opportunity. And if nothing else, the founders should have some kind of presence online. If you’re unable to find any history about the opportunity or those behind it, proceed with caution and look for other opinions.
  • The opportunity guarantees returns. Some opportunities really are too good to be true. Language like “guaranteed returns” or “double your investment” and so on is a sign the company is trying to mislead you. There are few guarantees in life, and investments are far from them. While some investments, like government-backed certificates of deposit, are safer than others, you won’t find a guarantee on a crowdfunding opportunity.
  • The math is funky. This point is especially relevant when you’re dealing with real estate crowdfunding. Closely examine the numbers when looking at investment properties. If the account holder claims you’ll make a certain amount but you’re not arriving at the same number after expenses, taxes, and other costs are factored in, double check the math. You may need to move on.
  • The valuation is inflated. When you’re looking at crowdfunding a startup, pay close attention to the valuation. It’s not unheard of for companies or crowdfunding platforms to inflate the valuation of a startup to draw more investors. If a company is brand new with no backing, it’s unlikely they’re worth $600 million. If the deal feels too good to be true, it might be.

What is the Difference Between the Public and Private Capital Markets?

 

The public and private capital markets work differently, but both sectors play essential roles in supporting economic growth. Companies raise funds for long-term growth and acquisitions in the public capital market, usually through debt instruments like bonds or stock, while private companies raise capital through private investments.  This article provides an overview of the differences between the two types of capital markets, including how they function and their role in economic development. 

 

Public Capital Markets

Public capital markets consist of equity and debt markets where buyers and sellers trade with each other daily. Many companies use this type of market to raise new capital or sell their existing stocks. It is typically easier for publicly traded companies to use these markets than private ones because traditionally, a wider pool of investors is available, and shares provide a significant amount of liquidity. Most investors use public markets to invest in companies, which buys them a partial interest in a company. It is also where many companies go when they want to raise new capital to fund their business operations. 

 

Private Capital Markets

Private capital markets are where privately-held companies can sell equity to investors like private equity, venture capital firms, and even individuals. This sale of securities is typically exempt from registration with the SEC and may come in the form of a Reg A, Reg CF, or Reg D offering. Before the JOBS Act, these types of investments were limited to high net-worth individuals and institutional investors. Post JOBS Act, even everyday investors can get a piece of a private company, which may offer a significant return if that company ever goes public through an IPO. Additionally, offerings in the private sector typically cost less to the issuer than an IPO, which makes JOBS Acts exemptions a very attractive form of fundraising. 

 

Because of the history of the private capital markets, there are misconceptions that it is expensive to invest. However, Reg A and Reg CF offerings can be affordable for investors, with investments for hundreds of dollars or less. However, non-accredited investors are limited to the amount they can invest each year by their annual income or net worth. The same restrictions don’t apply to private companies. Additionally, investors in the private capital markets have the potential for liquidity through alternative trading systems. 

 

Publicly traded companies are listed on an exchange so that anyone can buy their stocks. This means they have to follow specific guidelines set by the SEC to maintain listing requirements. Private company stock is not publicly available for trading, but there are still ways you may be able to get your hands on some shares. It’s important to note that different securities trade differently depending on where they’re bought from, and choosing the public or private capital market is the first step in any investment.

 

 

 

$1 Billion Raised Through RegCF

It seems 2021 is the year where we continue to break new ground for the JOBS Act, and today marks a momentous milestone in its history. Fundamentally, the act was designed to empower businesses and democratize capital. Not only has it succeeded in this goal, but it has also allowed companies to create jobs and return ownership to company founders. Recently, the amount of capital raised under Regulation CF offerings has reached an amazing milestone: $1 Billion USD over the lifetime of the exemption. 

 

This tremendous achievement would not have been achieved without the great work done by those in this sector. As of June 2020, there were 51 active RegCF funding platforms, a number that continues to grow as we see continued expansion on offering limits from regulators to make this funding method even more powerful. Now, over a year later, and after RegCF offering limits increased to $5M USD, we see nearly 70 regulated crowdfunding portals registered with FINRA.

 

We would not be arriving at this milestone today without the great work our of KorePartners in the industry, many of which have the same mission of creating equal access to the private capital markets for the everyday investor and include:

 

 

And perhaps most importantly, we would like to thank you: the investors who have poured capital into causes and businesses you are passionate about. Without your investments, we would be a long road away from the milestone we celebrate today. You have made the JOBS Act a reality and a phenomenal success that we could not have achieved without you. The everyday investors have been the lifeblood of this industry, fueling innovation, company growth, and job creations with your investments.

 

With more capital poured into private companies through these regulations, there is more opportunity than ever before for companies to succeed and investors to get involved with innovative, industry-changing companies. Such opportunities were previously unavailable to Main Street investors, but the JOBS Act has radically changed this landscape. After the incredible growth over the last nine years since the JOBS Act’s initial passage, it will be exciting to see how the space progresses over the next decade. 

 

Hooray to $1 Billion USD and counting!

 

As we move into the future, this is the group that will advance RegCF to raise $5 Billion USD for private companies:

Reflecting on Canadian Small Business Week

As Small Business Week comes to a close in Canada, KoreConX reflects on the role small businesses play in the economy. Our mission has long been to empower the private capital markets with the tools needed to take advantage of innovative capital raising opportunities. 

 

Earlier this week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shared his statement on Small Business Week. He said, “As we mark the start of Small Business Week in Canada, we recognize that the past year and a half have been difficult for small businesses, their owners, and their employees. Small businesses across the country were asked to make countless sacrifices to protect the health and safety of people and communities. Through it all, they have shown incredible courage and resilience, and an unprecedented ability to adapt and innovate. And while some businesses have now reopened their doors, many still need support as they continue to grapple with the impacts of the pandemic.”

 

This idea comes jointly with unprecedented access to capital raising opportunities. In March 2021, updated to offering limits under Regulation CF increase to $5 million USD, which small businesses can use to fuel innovation and job creations. When RegCF was first signed into law through the JOBS Act in 2012, the mission was to democratize capital to allow anyone to invest, give company ownership back to founders, and create jobs.

 

With 8.4 million individuals or 68.8% of the Canadian workforce employed by small businesses, it is clear to see their vitally important role in the economy. Similarly, small businesses were responsible for 35.8% of the employment growth between 2014 and 2019. “Small businesses drive our economy by creating the goods and services we need while employing millions of Canadians,” added Trudeau in his statement. 

 

Even as small businesses continue to recover from the global pandemic, capital raising opportunities like RegCF, which are cost-effective, can provide needed relief. Additionally, they can be incredibly successful, especially for small businesses with dedicated and loyal customers willing to invest. 

 

Join the new American Revolution – financial markets equality for all

This post originally appeared on the Rialto Markets blog and was written by Lee E. Saba, Head of Market Structure at Rialto Markets.

 

Very few people understand the revolution now taking place in financial markets.

It is to do with private markets and has been sparked by new regulations allowing investment and trading access to the masses.

For the first time, you and me, mom and pop, can invest in early-stage companies once exclusive to the elite investor. You know the investors I refer to: those with deep pockets that always seem to get in early, make a fortune when the company goes public, then exit the position as fast as possible to lock in significant gains.

Well, those days my friends are now a thing of the past.

Access to the best private company offerings

Retail investors now have access to some of the best private companies available at the early stage. Imagine investing in Tesla, Amazon or Coinbase before they listed on the “big” boards like the NYSE and Nasdaq, you know, during that high growth period where the real money can be made.

Accessing private markets is not in any way a guarantee for future gains however, because everyone who can pass anti-money-laundering (AML) and know your client (KYC) can get access to these companies now.

Hundreds of thousands private investors are joining the crowdfunding revolution

But how did we get this much wider access? It’s due to the JOBS Act of 2012 creating two new ways for private companies to raise money – Regulation A+ and Regulation CF (CF is short for crowd funding).

These two new rules (or exemptions as they are formally known) allow private companies to raise up to $75 million via Regulation A+ or up to $5 million via Regulation CF.

And anyone can invest in them. You no longer have to be a high-net-worth investor to get access – you can just be you. It’s a revolutionary development now gaining rapid adoption across the private markets’ landscape, allowing everyday citizens and traditional large financial institutions to invest side by side.

Gaining access to these previously inaccessible assets is a huge step in the right direction, but there is one more exciting angle to these assets. Drum roll, please….

Secondary Market for RegA+

Secondary markets mean if you bought a private placement security, say a Regulation A+, in the primary market (when the private company is open to outside investors) and want more of it or need the money you originally invested to pay off student loans or put a down payment on a home, you can now monetize that investment and get your money well before the company sells or goes public.

And there is an SEC regulated marketplace to buy and sell private placement securities. This means investors in private securities have a government regulator looking out for them, not some fly-by-night unregulated crypto operation run by novice entrepreneurs but a full-blown marketplace to match any buyers to the sellers and any sellers to the buyers.

This regulated matching facility is called an ATS (Alternative Trading System) and the professional investors on Wall Street have used these for years to get the best price and least amount of market impact as possible. But now anyone can access the world of private placements through a regulated ATS like ours at Rialto Markets.

Rialto’s team has built numerous Alternative Trading Systems in the traditional capital markets arena and has now leveraged that huge experience to launch its new ATS for private securities, enabling all investors – from retail to high end institutions – to participate in secondary markets for private securities.

Secondary trading for private securities? Yup. It’s a whole new and brave new world.

The Role of Investor Acquisition in Capital Raising Activities

The goal of any capital raising activity is to secure capital for the growth and development of the business. Without needed capital, it can often be challenging to expand; whether that means hiring more employees to keep up with demand, improving production facilities to manufacture a product, or funding research and development to bring more products or services to the market. However, in order to actually raise the capital required, potential investors need to be made aware of the offering and the opportunities becoming a shareholder entails. This requires marketing.

 

When it comes to RegA+ and RegCF offerings, the potential to sell securities to the everyday investor is powerful, opening up the market to a vast pool of potential investors not available to private companies before the 2012 JOBS Act. However, this also creates the need for companies to find the best way to reach their target audience and make them aware of the investment opportunity. Through marketing, you are able to inform prospective investors of the opportunity to invest in your company. 

 

More than ever before, social media has become an integral part of marketing activities across all business sectors. It allows you to reach your audience where they’re at, and as nearly seven in ten Americans are on social media, that place is online. Through social media, businesses can tell their story and use that to drive investors (and even new customers) to support their brand. Beyond social media, marketing becomes a key component of investor acquisition. Through investor acquisition, a company is able to target investors based on demographics; whether that is people who exhibit similar behaviors to shareholders, by age, by location, or by any other meaningful factor that allows you to identify the right investor for your company. The methods to target these prospects are just as diverse. While we’ve already mentioned social media, email marketing is still an effective media channel, along with online advertising, and many more channels of marketing. The importance is to use whichever channels allow you to best reach your target audience. 

 

The key to marketing is that it helps publicize your offering and find the best investors for your company. Successfully marketing an offering, as long as advertisements are truthful and not misleading, can make a significant difference in the raise’s success. Similarly, finding the right investor acquisition partner with experience in marketing capital raising activities can help ensure you meet compliance and use the most effective strategies for reaching the right audience. 

How to Select a Crowdfunding Platform for Your Capital Raise

One of the significant advancements brought to the financial sector in recent years was the enaction of the JOBS Act signed into law by President Obama on April 5th of 2012. Within that legislation contained a form of raising capital for private companies available to any American, whether they were accredited investors or not. This was Regulation CF or regulated crowdfunding.

When Reg CF was implemented, it limited the amount an unaccredited investor could invest and how much a private company could raise. In March 2021, the limit a company can raise increased to a maximum of $5 million within 12 months. Previously, before the introduction of Reg CF, it was challenging for the average investor to invest in a private company, as they did not have the capital to do so. This is now possible through Reg CF, which uses equity crowdfunding platforms to connect investors and private companies. 

Funding portals are regulated by FINRA, which imposes compliance on the organizations that provide the service and includes regulatory oversight and reporting requirements. FINRA has a list of funding portals registered and regulated by FINRA, which is the first thing to check when considering a funding portal. 

Part of the value of crowdfunding platforms for private companies is establishing demand and a proof of concept. If people are willing to invest in a Reg CF offering, it shows that people want a product or service to succeed. So, choosing the correct equity crowdfunding portal for you depends on the user base of that platform. For example, let’s look at three portals to see the differences of who is investing on those platforms. 

FanVestor is a platform predominantly for celebrities looking to raise money for a product or a charity. If, as a private company, you are among this group of people, this would be an effective platform, as investors would look here for you. In contrast, if you are a startup, you would be looking at portals like Republic or WeFunder. These two portals focus on startups, with Republic focused on real estate, video games, and crypto, and WeFunder, focused on giving small businesses and startups an alternative to venture capital and banks; their focus is “fixing capitalism.”

Look at where the investors are and what they are excited about, and then match that with your goals and vision. This is the best way to choose the right funding portal. It puts your company in the best place to raise the most capital and take your vision from dream to reality, with the backing of investors that believe in you. 

Beyond that, look to see which platform is the most beneficial for your situation. Consider how much they will charge and help you with the campaign. The purpose of working with a funding portal is to put your company, product, or service in the best possible position for success. The right crowdfunding platform will balance your weaknesses with their strength. 

Using RegCF to Raise Money for a Non-US Business

To use Reg CF (aka Title III Crowdfunding), an issuer must be “organized under, and subject to, the laws of a State or territory of the United States or the District of Columbia.” That means a Spanish entity cannot issue securities using Reg CF. But it doesn’t mean a Spanish business can’t use Reg CF.

First, here’s how not to do it.

A Spanish entity wants to raise money using Reg CF. Reading the regulation, the Spanish entity forms a shell Delaware corporation. All other things being equal, as an entity “organized under, and subject to, the laws of a State or territory of the United States,” the Delaware corporation is allowed to raise capital using Reg CF. But all other things are not equal. If the Delaware corporation is a shell, with no assets or business, then (i) no funding portal should allow the securities of the Delaware corporation to be listed, and (ii) even if a funding portal did allow the securities to be listed, nobody in her right mind would buy them.

Here are two structures that work:

  • The Spanish business could move its entire business and all its assets into a Delaware corporation. Even with no assets, employees, or business in the U.S., the Delaware corporation could raise capital using Reg CF, giving investors an interest in the entire business.
  • Suppose the Spanish company is in the business of developing, owning, and operating health clubs. Today all its locations are in Spain but it sees an opportunity in the U.S. The Spanish entity creates a Delaware corporation to develop, own, and operate health clubs in the U.S. The Delaware corporation could raise capital using Reg CF, giving investors an interest in the U.S. business only.

NOTE:  Those familiar with Regulation A may be excused for feeling confused. An issuer may raise capital using Regulation A only if the issuer is managed in the U.S. or Canada. For reasons that are above my pay grade, the rules for Reg CF and the rules for Regulation A are just different.

 

This blog was written by Mark Roderick of Lex Nova Law, a KorePartner. The article was originally published on Mark’s blog, The Crowdfunding Attorney.

What is KYC?

In 2007, the SEC approved the founding of the non-profit Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). FINRA was created in the wake of a failing economy to consolidate the regulation of securities firms operating in the United States. The authority’s responsibilities include “rule writing, firm examination, enforcement, arbitration, and mediation functions, plus all functions previously overseen solely by NASD, including market regulation under contract for NASDAQ, the American Stock Exchange, the International Securities Exchange, and the Chicago Climate Exchange.”

The mission is to safeguard the investing public against fraud and bad practices. To fulfill this mission, FINRA added two rules in 2012: Rule 2090 (KYC or Know Your Client) and Rule 2111 (Suitability). 

KYC works in conjunction with suitability to protect both the client and the broker-dealer and help maintain fair dealings between the parties. The Know Your Client rule is a regulatory requirement for those responsible for opening and maintaining new accounts. This rule requires broker-dealers to access the client’s finances, verify their identity, and use reasonable effort to understand the risk tolerance and facts about their financial position. 

KYC is an important rule as it governs the relationship between customer and broker-dealer and safeguards the proceedings. At the heart of this rule is the process that verifies the customer’s identity (or any other account owners) and assesses their risk level. Part of FINRA’s goal is to eliminate financial crime, which means that when a broker is accessing a potential customer, they are looking for evidence of money laundering or similar crimes. This process goes both ways as FINRA allows a customer to verify the identity of brokers in good standing with the organization.

KYC also goes hand-in-hand with the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) rule, which seeks to identify suspicious behavior, outlined under FINRA rule 3310. Crimes such as terrorist financing, market manipulation, and securities fraud are illegal acts that KYC, AML, and other rules aim to prevent.

Another part of the Know Your Client rule is the requirement of a broker-dealer to use reasonable effort to understand a client’s risk tolerance, investment knowledge, and financial position. For example, accredited investors can make Regulation CF and A+ investments without facing restrictions, while the everyday investor is limited based on their net worth and income. 

When making recommendations for a client, a broker-dealer must comply with Rule 2111, the suitability rule, which means that they must have reasonable grounds for this suggestion based on a review of the client’s financial situation.

Compliance with these rules is maintained by following policies and best practices that govern risk management, customer acceptance, and transaction monitoring. Due diligence is done to know a client needs to be recorded, retained, and maintained so that broker-dealers can continuously monitor for suspicious or illegal activity. In 2020, FINRA processed 79.7 billion market events every day and imposed $57 million in fines. 

What is Regulated Crowdfunding

On April 5th of 2012, President Obama signed into law legislation called the JOBS Act. Four years after that act was signed, Title III of the JOBS Act was enacted. This was Regulation CF, which allows for private companies in their early stages to use crowdfunding to raise money from any American, not just accredited investors. This opened the doors with funding portals for companies to trade securities to a larger pool of investors to raise needed growth capital and allow average people to benefit from the possibility of investing in an early-stage company.

When it was first implemented in Spring 2016, Reg CF allowed companies to raise a maximum of $1.07 million within 12 months. Now, with new amendments added to the law by the SEC that went into effect in March 2021, companies can raise a maximum of $5 million. You may be familiar with the idea of crowdfunding with the success of websites like Kickstarter, and this works similarly. Instead of donation tiers that would award you merchandise from the campaign, investing in a private company with Reg CF will give you securities or equity in the companies. Previously, the barrier for entry into this investment type was very high, as you needed a lot of capital to invest in a private company. 

The new amendments still have a limit on how much a particular individual can invest when it comes to non-accredited investors but removed the limits on accredited investors. More specifically, for investors with either a net worth or annual income less than $107,000, investments in Reg CF offerings are limited to $2,200 or 5% of the greater of their annual income or net worth.

Reg CF is typically used for early-stage startups to build capital and has significantly changed the road map for entrepreneurs, allowing them to look to crowdfunding options before venture capital investments. Because the cost and barrier to entry for Regulation CF lower than with Reg A, many companies are using this after their first round of funding to prove the viability of their concepts and build a business. Then after a successful Reg CF, raising up to $5 million, this proves that there is interest in what you are building. In turn, this improves your valuation and allows for a much more successful Reg A campaign that could help you raise even more capital. 

There is a significant benefit to everyone involved in a Reg CF. The companies running the campaign are raising money to prove their viability, fuel the growth, and democratizes capital, allowing everyday Americans to participate in a system that was until recently closed to them. In 2020, 358,000 investors participated in Reg CF campaigns, a significant increase from the 15,000 investors participating in 2019. RegCF is a way for Americans to diversify their investment portfolio. They can grow as an investor by investing in a private company with a much lower entry cost.

With Reg CF garnering much success for both investors and issuers alike, it will be exciting to see how it continues to evolve in the future. We may see even higher raise limits, further expanding access to capital, increasing the number of American jobs, and further democratizing investment opportunities.

 

Shareholder Rights and Why They’re Important to Know

The first thought that comes to mind when someone says “shareholder,” is Wall Street, understandably, as Wall Street is home to the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ, the two largest stock exchanges in the world. In this sense, becoming a shareholder is dependent on owning stock. A common word in the financial industry, a stock is a unit of measure for how much of a company a shareholder owns. When it comes to the stock market found on Wall Street, those are stocks being traded in public companies, like Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon. These are household names, but there are also privately-owned companies that you would know by name, like Koch Industries, Bloomberg, Staples, and Petsmart. These private companies also have shareholders, who have rights associated with their ownership in a private company. For private company shareholders, there are three major rights; access to information, voting rights, and the ability to attend and participate in meetings.

 

One quick comparison we can make between private and public companies is the number of shareholders they have. Because a public company has shares available on the stock market, there is a greater opportunity for everyday people to grab at least one share, while private companies traditionally have far fewer shareholders because there is less access. However, the JOBS Act is changing the landscape, allowing the everyday investor to access more investment opportunities in private companies through Regulation A+ and Regulation CF. These regulations allow investors to invest smaller amounts of money in exchange for shares of a private company. No longer are these types of investments limited to accredited, angel, and venture capital investors. 

 

However, this plays a role in the rights of shareholders due to the volume of your voice in meetings and decisions. One right that shareholders have is the ability to attend meetings on major decisions in the company. When there are fewer investors in a company, the louder your voice will be in the room. This is important because by owning a part of that company, shareholders gain the right to participate and attend meetings to protect their investment from decisions that they feel would misuse their funds.

 

As a shareholder, you have the right to vote on major decisions being made by the company that could very well change the direction of the company. This again goes back to protecting your investment, as investing in a private company is often a long-term investment. Private company earnings can be paid out to shareholders, but the more likely scenario for a shareholder in a private company, especially if it is not a particularly large company, is a liquidity event, such as going public, buying out shareholders, or by being able to offer shares for sale on a secondary market alternative trading system. Making sure that your investment is safe is why you have the right to vote on major decisions. The same is true for your access to information. As a shareholder in a private company, you have a right to know how the company is doing, to see how your investment is playing out.

 

It is important to know your rights as an investor whether it is in a public or private company because you have put your money in the hands of others with the expectation that they will use it to grow and make more money for you in the future. As an investor in a private company, you have more say than an investor in a public company by the fact that you are one of few as opposed to one of many. Use that power and protect your investment; remember that if you own stock, you own part of the company and have rights. 

What is Portfolio Management?

Portfolio management, at its most basic level, is the way that an investment portfolio is designed to align with the wants and needs of the investor. Portfolio management focuses on creating an investment strategy that factors in the goals set by the investor, the timeframe involved in the investment, and the risk tolerance of the investor.

 

This is done by picking a variety of kinds of investments like stocks, bonds, and other funds and monitoring and adjusting them as needed. There are two ways that portfolios are managed: actively and passively. Often, this will be decided by the risk tolerance that a specific investor has. With Regulation A+ and Regulation CF, the everyday investor can choose to invest in private companies as well, which significantly expand opportunities to be a part of new and exciting investments.

Active portfolio management is a hands-on approach that involves hiring portfolio managers who buy and sell stocks intending to outperform investment benchmarks. To try and outperform these benchmarks, portfolio managers have to take some risks in the investments they make. Some of these risks lead to big rewards, but as with all risks, they can also lead to large losses to the investor. Portfolio managers have a fiduciary responsibility to act in good faith regarding the investment, and also have fees attached to them based on the size of the portfolio and the return on investment of the portfolio. 

 

Passive portfolio management is a mostly hands-off approach where the investor is trying to match investment benchmarks rather than trying to outperform them. Portfolios that are managed passively are frequently managed by the investor, so no fees are going to a portfolio manager. Instead of buying and selling specific stocks, passive portfolios are usually invested in exchange-traded funds, index funds, or mutual funds. This is a very low-risk approach that values slow and consistent growth over time, making it a great long-term investment strategy.

 

There are four pillars in portfolio management: asset allocation, diversification, rebalancing, and tax minimization. Asset allocation is the practice of spreading your investment into a variety of different assets like stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Good asset allocation means that an investor takes on a smaller amount of risk because investments are protected due to the various places that assets are allocated. Diversification is about making sure that investors don’t put all of their eggs in one basket, because if that investment fails, there is a lot of money to be lost.

 

Rebalancing is done every so often as a way to hit the reset button on asset allocation. Over time, some investments might be doing very well, while others might be doing very poorly. To maintain a low-risk nature, it is important to sell both assets that are doing well and ones that are not. Over time, market fluctuations might cause a portfolio to get off course from the goals that were originally set, so rebalancing keeps the train going down the right track. Tax minimization focuses on trying to keep as much of the money that your investment made as possible. Capital gains get taxed differently depending on what investments they came from and where. Investments in exchange-traded funds or mutual funds, for example, get taxed at a much lower rate than investments in stocks. The goal is to keep as much money as possible!

 

Whether you’re saving for your first house or saving for your dream house, good portfolio management will result in investors being able to set, meet, and surpass their financial goals. The right portfolio management strategies will help to build a worthwhile return.

 

What is Due Diligence?

When it comes to investments of any kind, due diligence is essential for both issuers and investors alike. Do so what exactly is due diligence?

 

Due diligence is ensuring that a potential investment comes with the accurate disclosure of all offering details. The Securities Act of 1933, a result of the stock market crash years earlier, introduced due diligence as a common practice. The purpose of the act was to create transparency into the financial statements of companies and protect investors from fraud. While the SEC requires the information provided to be accurate, it does not make any guarantees to its accuracy. However, the Securities Act of 1933 for the first time allowed investors to make informed decisions regarding their investments. 

 

In the process of investing, investors should review all information available to them. Investors should ask questions such as:

 

  • Company Business Plans: What are the issuer’s current and future plans? Do their projections seem reasonable given their current financial reports?
  • Company Management: Who are the company’s officers, founders, and board members? What is their previous experience in business and have they had success? Does the management team pass a Bad Actors check?
  • Products/Services: What does the company offer? Is it something that you would use or does there seem to be a wide appeal for the product or service in the market? 
  • Documentation: Is the company’s bylines, articles of incorporation, meeting minutes, and other related documents available to review?
  • Revenue: What does the company’s revenue look like? Does it make sense considering the demand for their products? What do revenue projections look like?
  • Debt: Does the company have debt? Is it comparable to other companies in the industry?
  • Competition: What does the company’s competition look like and how do they plan to deal with it? Has the company properly protected intellectual property through trademarks, patents, copyrights, etc.?
  • Funding: Why is the company raising funding and what are the plans for the money raised?

 

While these are important questions to ask, there are other factors that investors should think about. Investors should consider whether they are financially able to take on the risk of investment. While investing in private companies can lead to a huge return, success is not guaranteed. Investors should ask themselves if they would be able to afford to lose their investment or not immediately being able to make a profit. They should also ensure that they are qualified to invest. If they are a non-accredited investor, have they already made investments that could alter the amount they can invest?

 

Issuers should make sure that all information investors need to make an educated decision to invest is adequately provided. They do not want to risk potential lawsuits down the road for failing to disclose certain information. Issuers can ensure that they are meeting all due diligence requirements by using a broker-dealer as an intermediary for their investment.

Can IRAs Be Used for Private Companies Investments?

Individual retirement accounts (commonly shortened to IRAs) allow flexibility and diversity when making investments. Whether investing in stocks, bonds, real estate, private companies, or other types of investments, IRAs can be useful tools when saving for retirement. While traditional IRAs limit investments to more standard options, such as stocks and bonds, a self-directed IRA allows for investments in things less standard, such as private companies and real estate.

 

Like a traditional IRA, to open a self-directed IRA you must find a custodian to hold the account. Banks and brokerage firms can often act as custodians, but careful research must be done to ensure that they will handle the types of investments you’re planning on making. Since custodians simply hold the account for you, and often cannot advise you on investments, finding a financial advisor that specializes in IRA investments can help ensure due diligence.

 

With IRA investments, investors need to be extremely careful that it follows regulations enforced by the SEC. If regulations are not adhered to, the IRA owner can face severe tax penalties. For example, you cannot use your IRA to invest in companies that either pay you a salary or that you’ve lent money to, as it is viewed by the SEC as a prohibited transaction. Additionally, you cannot use your IRA to invest in a company belonging to either yourself or a direct family member. If the IRA’s funds are used in these ways, there could be an early withdrawal penalty of 10% plus regular income tax on the funds if the owner is younger than 59.5 years old.

 

Since the IRA’s custodian cannot validate the legitimacy of a potential investment, investors need to be responsible for proper due diligence. However, since some investors are not aware of this, it is a common tactic for those looking to commit fraud to say that the investment opportunity has been approved by the custodian. The SEC warns that high-reward investments are typically high-risk, so the investor should be sure they fully understand the investment and are in the position to take a potential loss. The SEC also recommends that investors ask questions to see if the issuer or investment has been registered. Either the SEC itself or state securities regulators should be considered trusted, unbiased sources for investors.

 

If all requirements are met, the investor can freely invest in private companies using their IRAs. However, once investments have been made, the investor will need to keep track of them, since it is not up to their custodian. To keep all records of investments in a central location, investors can use KoreConX’s Portfolio Management, as part of its all-in-one platform. The portfolio management tool allows investors to utilize a single dashboard for all of their investments, easily accessing all resources provided by their companies. Information including key reports, news, and other documents are readily available to help investors make smarter, more informed investments.

 

Once investors have done their due diligence and have been careful to avoid instances that could result in penalties and taxes, investments with IRAs can be beneficial. Since it allows for a diverse investment portfolio, those who choose to invest in multiple different ways are, in general, safer. Additionally, IRAs are tax-deferred, and contributions can be deducted from the owner’s taxable income.

KoreConX CEO Oscar Jofre was Recently Interviewed on DNA Podcast

Recently, KoreConX President and CEO Oscar Jofre had the pleasure of joining Jason Fishman on the Digital Niche Agency podcast. Jason and DNA are valued KorePartners and their podcast Test. Optimize. Scale. feature actionable insight for industry leaders on how to grow and optimize brands. 

 

In this episode, Jason and Oscar discuss how he was able to test, optimize, and scale KoreConX. In addition, they discuss the growing potential of Regulation Crowdfunding (RegCF) and the impact it will have on the private capital markets. 

 

The full episode can be listened to on Spotify or YouTube

KorePartner Spotlight: Jonny Price, Vice President of Fundraising at Wefunder

With the recent launch of the KoreConX all-in-one platform, KoreConX is happy to feature the partners that contribute to its ecosystem.

 

Jonny Price has always had an interest in economic development and a passion for economic justice and equity. In his first role in the fundraising sector, he worked for a company called Kiva, which provided crowdfunded micro-loans to US entrepreneurs. With his experience as the head of Kiva US, it was a natural transition to Wefunder, where he serves as VP of Fundraising.

 

For too long, investments in private companies have been limited to only accredited investors. For the average person, their only chance to invest was once the company went public. Wefunder makes it so that private investments are not just limited to wealthy investors – through Wefunder, anyone can become an angel investor for as little as $100.

 

Jonny is excited about how this is changing the private investment space. When ordinary people can invest in brands they care about, more capital is available for founders and entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. Especially in minority and women-run businesses, there is a great disparity in access to capital. Only 1% of VC funding goes to black founders, and 3% goes to female-only founding teams. Crowdfunding helps to level the playing field tremendously.

 

Partnering with KoreConX was the right fit for Wefunder. Jonny said: “I have known Oscar for a while and am impressed with the services they offer. A number of Wefunder clients have used the platform, and had very positive things to say about the KoreConX team.”