Thanks to Congressman McHenry’s staff for putting together this amazing video on the Rally 4 Crowdfunding
Thanks to Congressman McHenry’s staff for putting together this amazing video on the Rally 4 Crowdfunding
Dear Crowdfund Investing (CFI) Followers,
The rally was a HUGE success.Â How do we know?Â The regulators have launched a full-frontal assault against us in the Senate and areÂ trying to kill Crowdfund Investing for goodÂ in the next 6 weeks.Â Hereâ€™s what you need to know in 3 sections: 1) What you can do now, 2) Whatâ€™s happening next week (SENATE HEARING Dec 1st!) and 3) Highlights from last week:
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW:
oÂ Â Â Click thisÂ linkÂ to identify your Senators, call them and tell them â€œI support HR2930, the Crowdfunding Bill as a solution to getting capital flowing to community entrepreneurs so that we can create jobs!â€ It may sound crazy but grass roots calls are powerful.
oÂ Â Â We need yourÂ financial supportÂ to help offset the mounting costs (travel, marketing, additional rallying, etc.) of getting the message to the Senate.
oÂ Â Â We need you to recruit other supporters!Â Please send this to your friends, family and community and say, â€œI NEED YOU TO HELP ME STOP THE REGULATORS THAT REFUSE TO JOIN THE INTERNET AGE. Â WE HAVE A SOLUTION TO THE JOBS CRISIS BUT THE REGULATORS ARE STAGING A TURF WAR THAT DRAMATICALLY HINDERS ENTREPRENEURSHIP. ONLY THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE CAN CHANGE THE LAW TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR ENTREPRENEURS TO ACCESS CAPITAL, INNOVATE, AND HIRE AMERICANS!â€
WHATâ€™S HAPPENING NEXT WEEK:
oÂ Â Â The Senate Banking Committee is holding a hearing on December 1stÂ for which they still havenâ€™t guaranteed us a seat at the table (crazy how you can bring this stuff to Washington and not be included in the hearing on the subject).
oÂ Â Â We plan on hosting a luncheon for Senate Staffers the beginning of December to walk them through how CFI works and answer any questions/fears they might have about letting entrepreneurs raise capital from their social networks.
oÂ Â Â We MUST push for a vote before the end of the year!Â If we do not get a vote by the end of 2011, it is unlikely the laws will change because next year is an election year.
-Â Â Â Â Â Â Â NPR, The Wall Street Journal and Fast Company covered the event. Â Much thanksÂ to everyone who came to the rally, everyone who sponsored the rally and Representative McHenry & Maloney for speaking at the rally.
-Â Â Â Â Â Â Â We confronted our most vocal opponents at the SEC Small Business Capital Forum.
oÂ Â Â Heath Abshure (Arkansas Securities Dept.) told us while they are in favor of crowdfunding (funny how this isnâ€™t what he says in the media) their number one concern is â€˜investor protectionâ€™ and market confidence.
oÂ Â Â We responded with 2 questions that fell on blank stares:
1)Â If investor protection is so important, why haven’t they brought anyone to justice for the 2008 financial meltdown? Â
2)Â If fraud leads to the collapse of the markets due to lost confidence, why havenâ€™t the financial markets ceased to exist with the 2008 financial meltdown?
oÂ Â Â NOTE:Â If the broader markets are where the fraud is being perpetrated why isnâ€™t the SEC focusing their energies on combating and stopping fraud there while letting the crowd take over in their community?
-Â Â Â Â Â Â Â We met with 9 Senate offices.
oÂ Â Â Republicans are in favor of the legislation from a Jobs perspective and cutting the bureaucratic tape which inhibits access to capital for entrepreneurs.
oÂ Â Â Democrats (including the President) are in favor of Jobs and democratizing the financial market so that not only the rich are allowed to participate.
oÂ Â Â Both sides understand that the Internet has fundamentally changed the way we do business and hence it only makes sense that it should change the way we also do financing in the future.
-Â Â Â Â Â Â Â HOWEVER, State Regulators and special interests are throwing a full-frontal assault to stop our progress and KILL CROWDFUND INVESTING.
oÂ Â Â They are using nonspecific cases of fraud to halt our progress because fraud, like sex and war, sells newspapers.
oÂ Â Â They are doing this because they think we are encroaching on their territory and money.
oÂ Â Â They are detracting from the conversation (JOBS via access to capital) without taking time to understand the advances in technology, the Internet, and how social media has led to transparency and accountability.
oÂ Â Â They want you to think there will be millions of cases of fraud when the bigger issue is failure. The hedge against failure is portfolio diversification.
oÂ Â Â Less than 40% of CFI ideas will ever be funded, and those that are funded, will be by people who know the entrepreneur (true investor protection at work).
oÂ Â Â They want you to focus on fraud because they donâ€™t understand that Crowdfund Investing is based on many-to-many communication between an entrepreneur and many investors in a open dialog as opposed to one-to-one fraud.
oÂ Â Â They want to distract you from the benefits of this bill because they know that January 1stÂ starts an election year and this bill will die if it isnâ€™t passed into law before then and focus shifts to election politics.
Entrepreneurs, ideas, capital, businesses and jobs. Â You can have many entrepreneurs with thousands of ideas but you’ll NEVER HAVE ONE BUSINESS NOR JOB WITHOUT CAPITAL. Â We need to pick up where Wall Street and the Banks have left off. Â The Regulators are standing in the way simply because they don’t stand to earn a commission. Â Join the cause. Â Spread the word and let’s get Joe the Entrepreneur back to Innovating so that we can create JOBS and get us out of this recession!
Sherwood, Jason & Zak
With all the time and attention that fraud has received, we wanted to talk about a much more important issue, failure.Â Failure of early businesses happens 50% of the time â€“ that’s just a fact of nature.Â If we were to hold that fraud would happen 1% of the time, then failure is 50 times more important in risk mitigation for investors.Â And nearly all Americans who invest in the public markets already mitigate against the risk of â€œlosing it allâ€ by way of holding a portfolio.Â Diversification has been practiced for centuries, and it’s no different in any asset class, be it public equities, commodities or crowdfund investing.
We believe that prudent risk and fraud mitigation currently in HR2930, along with law enforcement provisions in the bill preserve the power of state and federal officials to aggressively pursue those who commit fraud.Â Now, letâ€™s create a plan to help more honest businesses succeed.
KNOWLEDGE & EXPERIENCE
When entrepreneurs talk about failure they talk about the lessons they learned and the experience they gained which is less sexy to the media than fraud.Â In crowdfund investing, the entrepreneur has access to his investors to gain knowledge and experience from them in order to attempt to reduce the rate of failure.Â The transparency and ease of many to many communication benefits all.
When investors talk about a stockâ€™s failure, they always focus on the critical importance of diversification.Â WHY?Â Because everyone knows, a diversified portfolio is the best security against loss.Â Why focus on educating people about portfolio diversification when it is easier to claim crowdfund investing will open the floodgates to fraud?
So why do we bring this up?Â Because the opponents want you to focus on something that will grab the mediaâ€™s attention (fraud).Â This also distracts the debate while trying to prevent regular Americans from supporting entrepreneurs with their own dollars.
There are entrenched interests that donâ€™t want you to focus on how getting capital to entrepreneurs will stimulate innovation.Â They clearly donâ€™t talk about alternative solutions.Â AND most importantly they donâ€™t want to lose jurisdiction over the business and revenue they are currently generating.Â These are areas we hope the media starts to look into more fully.
Much of our new information economy is based on new ways of connecting people.Â Preventing entrepreneurs from soliciting financing from their fans and potential customer base, equates to a massive form of economic suppression.Â And it’s a suppression of the most powerful human right ever given, the 1st Amendment.
If the opponents took the time to think it through, theyâ€™d see that fraud is no more of an issue than in other forms of investing.Â With prudent safeguards in place, let’s focus the majority of our energy on the real issues â€“ continued education about diversification.
Think we are wrong?Â Please tell us why.Â How does one â€œlose it allâ€ when holding a portfolio of businesses? Â How does suppressing platforms which will drive Yelp-like crowdsourced checking & reviews of entrepreneurs help prevent fraud?
Startup Exemption and SBE Council to Host a Crowdfunded Rally in Support of H.R. 2930
Washington, DC – The Startup Exemption and Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) announced today they will hold an event to call attention to the need for the U.S. Senate and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to act on a common sense proposal that would permit crowdfund investing. The rally coincides with Global Entrepreneurship Week and the SEC’s annual meeting on small business capital formation on November 17th. The event will be held on the Capitol grounds between Union Station and the Capitol building at 8:00 a.m.
True to the tenants of crowdfunding, the group is crowdfunding the costs of the event with a pitch on IndieGoGo.
The goal of the rally says Sherwood Neiss, Chief Advocate of the Startup Exemption is to “put a face to Joe the Entrepreneur and Jill the Innovator and call for action by the Senate and the SEC. Representative Patrick McHenry used our framework for H.R. 2930, the ‘Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act.’ The bill recently passed the House in a unique burst of bipartisan support with a vote of 407 to 17. This Act represents a major step forward in solving the capital crisis facing our nation’s job creators while bringing securities laws into the modern era.”
Crowdfund Investing (CFI) builds on the tenants of crowdfunding. While in traditional crowdfunding, a group of individuals “donate” small amounts of money to an idea (for example, an art related project). In CFI, individuals use small amounts of money to buy equity in a business. The goal of CFI is to provide entrepreneurs and small businesses with access to capital that they will use to grow and hire. Individuals are motivated to invest by the desire to support an entrepreneur and her business plan, to be a part of the solution to our economic woes, and for a potential financial return.
Jason Best, co-founder of the Startup Exemption said, “Our proposal is a jobs initiative that everyone can agree on and requires no government spending. Providing this funding option to connect entrepreneurs with the capital they need, will unleash the next wave of American innovation and create jobs. With President Obama officially backing Representative McHenry’s bill, we look forward to quickly advancing this common sense framework in the Senate.”
SBE Council President & CEO Karen Kerrigan observed that the quick pace of the crowdfund investing bill demonstrates that members of both political parties understand capital access is a critical issue for both entrepreneurs and our nation’s economic recovery.
“Crowd fund investing will give small business owners and entrepreneurs access to sources of capital they currently cannot tap into without triggering complex SEC rules. With common sense reforms, more Americans will be able to invest in promising small businesses, which means more jobs and greater economic growth. Reformulating outdated rules while maintaining investor protections will help entrepreneurs identify and connect with potential funders,” said Kerrigan.
She added: “We are very excited that Congress and President Obama are seeking intelligent and innovative ways to help small business owners access capital. Technology and the Internet have leveled the playing field in so many other areas for entrepreneurs, and it only makes sense that they are allowed to tap into its power and the intelligence of the crowd for needed capital.”
Crowdfunding has grown in popularity over the past 5 years with millions of participants around the world. Entrepreneurs see CFI as a way to raise moderate amounts of capital and investors see it as a way to help entrepreneurs in their community. Numerous academic reports discuss how SEC rules block small business’ access to capital. SEC-registered Crowdfund Investing websites will provide the platform for investors to analyze ideas and self-select those community entrepreneurs they wish to support.
According to H.R. 2930, only businesses that reach their funding target will be funded, entrepreneurs cannot raise more than $2M and investors are limited on how much they can invest. The SEC would continue to provide prudent oversight to CFI to mitigate the risk of fraud and protect investors.
# # #
About STARTUP EXEMPTION: Startup Exemption is an initiative spearheaded by Sherwood Neiss, Jason Best and Zak Cassady-Dorion. Mr. Neiss, a 3-time INC500 entrepreneur, came across the problem when trying to help crowdfund two of his startups. While discussing it with Mr. Best, a 2-time Inc 500 entrepreneur, lawyers made it clear that the rules for raising capital were arcane, complicated and required costly compliance measures. Understanding the critical importance of startup capital, these three colleagues set about changing the regulations for investing in Startups. Their goal is to add an exemption to the Securities & Exchange laws based on Crowdfund Investing aka equity-based crowdfunding. Online petition and more information can be found at: https://startupexemption.com/.
SBE Council is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy, research and training organization dedicated to protecting small business and promoting entrepreneurship. For more information, please visit http://www.sbecouncil.org/.
Sherwood NeissÂ firstname.lastname@example.org
Â ***If you cannot read the following clearly, click to go directly to mailchimp post ****
Video here. Forward to 9 minute and 25 second part to begin segment.
Crowd Funding for Start Ups
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
SUSIE GHARIB: Another source of funding for small businesses is crowd funding. It’s a way for startups to use the Internet to raise relatively small contributions from a large number of people. The only problem is that securities’ regulations severely limit the ability to crowd fund. But as Darren Gersh reports, Congress is on the way to changing that.
DARREN GERSH, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Find a friend with extra bars of gold in the basement — that’s the traditional way entrepreneurs fund a business. But for those who don’t have a rich uncle, there is what’s called crowd funding. Crowd funding is a strategy to raise small sums of money from many people, even people all over the country.
JASON BEST, CO-FOUNDER, STARTUPEXEMPTION.COM: It really democratizes the ability to raise funds for your business.
GERSH: Jason Best is lobbying Congress to pass legislation making it legal to crowd fund. The bill he backs allows entrepreneurs to raise up to $1 million, $2 million if companies provide audited financial statements. Entrepreneurs would not have to go through the expensive process of registering their shares with the Securities and Exchange Commission or state regulators. In a given year, investors can pitch in a total of up to $10,000 or 10 percent of adjusted gross income, whichever is smaller.
BEST: This is an opportunity for entrepreneurs and small business people, whether they are in Arnold, Nebraska, Detroit, Michigan or Miami, Florida, to be able to raise capital for their ideas and to build their businesses.
GERSH: To combat the kind of fraud that brought down Enron, Congress has tightened accounting rules, making it harder for companies to go public. Entrepreneurs like Idealab’s Bill Gross say crowd funding will provide cash before venture capital and the chance at an initial public offering comes along.
BILL GROSS, CEO IDEALAB: At this first stage, when a company is just getting going, this could be a big boost to getting a company to go from, say 10 people or five people to 50 people and to first revenues or even first profits. And I think that’s going to be really helpful to the economy.
GERSH: But state securities regulators like Heath Abshure say crowd funding will lead to crowd fraud.
HEATH ABSHURE, ARKANSAS SECURITIES COMMISSIONER: The fact is, it is a wide open gate that a lot of folks can run through and some of those folks, we don’t want them running through the gate.
GERSH: But supporters say the Internet will help police the crowd.
BEST: Anything that happens is posted to the web almost in real time. Anything that goes wrong or right is posted to the web in almost real time. And so, the crowd will be a great enforcement tool, along with regulators at the state and Federal level.
GERSH: The idea of crowd funding is attracting an unusual crowd in Washington. The president, House Republicans and House Democrats are all on board. Now, the idea just needs to find a backer in the Senate. Darren Gersh, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Washington.
Sherwood Neiss, Chief Advocate of the Startup Exemption testifies September 15, 2001 in front of a Congressional Committee on the ways in which we can get capital flowing to entrepreneurs, spur innovation & create over 500,000 companies and 1.5M net new jobs over the next 5 years.
1) Sherwood Neiss’ testimony:Â http://1.usa.gov/oHrFy5
2) Video of Crowdfunding hearing:Â http://bit.ly/raknZY
3) List of panelists including their respective testimonies:Â http://1.usa.gov/oVD9OX
Last night President Obama delivered a speech to the nation in front of both houses of Congress.Â During his speech he laid out his plan to create jobs and jumpstart our economy.
He had the following to say: “Everyone here knows that small businesses are where most new jobs begin. Â And while corporate profits have come roaring back smaller companies haven’t.”Â “Ultimately our recovery will be driven not by Washington but our businesses and our workers. Â We can help.” “I agree there are some rules and regulations that do put an unnecessary burden on businesses at a time when they can least afford it.” So “we are â€¦ planning to cut away the red tape that prevents too many rapidly growing startup companies from raising capital and going public.” “We should have no more regulation than the health, safety and security of the American people required. Â And every rule should meet that commonsense test.” “We should be in a race to the top and I believe we can win that race.” “And it has been the drive and initiative of our workers and entrepreneurs that has made this economy the engine and envy of the world.” Â “Members of congress it is time for us to meet our responsibilities”
Today his Jobs Act was released with the following paragraph pursuant to his speech.
Reducing Regulatory Burdens on Small Business Capital Formation: As part of the President’s Startup America initiative, the Administration will pursue efforts to reduce the regulatory burdens on small business capital formation in ways that are consistent with investor protection. This includes working with the SEC to explore ways to address the costs that small and new firms face in complying with Sarbanes-Oxley disclosure and auditing requirements. The administration also supports establishing a “crowdfunding” exemption from SEC registration requirements for firms raising less than $1 million (with individual investments limited to $10,000 or 10% of investors’ annual income) â€¦. This will make it easier for entrepreneurs to raise capital and create jobs.
The bolded line comes directly from what the Startup Exemption has been advocating within its networks in Washington, DC! Â Sherwood Neiss, the entrepreneur and Chief Advocate for the Startup Exemption said, â€œIt is AMAZING to see Washington come together over this issue. Â Crowdfund Investing (CFI) is an AMERICAN opportunity. Â It has the ability to get capital flowing to our nation’s struggling entrepreneurs so that they can grow and hire. Â Our zero-cost government initiative has the ability to create over 500,000 companies and 1.5M net new jobs over the next 5 years.â€
President Obama is pushing congress to enact the Jobs Act.Â If passed, the crowdfunding changes advocated by the Startup Exemption will be the first changes to the security laws in the past 20 years.
On May 20th Sherwood Neiss, Chief Advocate for The Startup Exemption decided to test the basis for Crowd Fund Investing by pitching the idea to approximately 150 people at Startup Weekend Miami.
Startup Weekend (funded by the Kauffman Foundation â€“ Americanâ€™s largest Entrepreneurial Foundation) is a 54-hour event that takes place in 100 cities around the world.Â It is designed to provide superior experiential education for technical and non-technical entrepreneurs. The weekend events that have launched over 2,000 businesses, are centered on action, innovation, and education. Beginning with Friday night pitches and continuing through testing, business model development, and basic prototype creation, Startup Weekends culminate in Sunday night demos to a panel of potential investors, experts and local entrepreneurs. Â Participants are challenged with building functional startups during the event and are able to collaborate with like-minded individuals outside of their daily networks.
There were 60 ideas pitched by the attendees and the crowd voted.Â Crowd Fund Investing received the 4th highest number of votes.Â The Top 15 ideas formed teams and started working on their prototypes for the next 50 hours.Â Â Neissâ€™ team consisted of students; front and back end web developers, and business people.Â They divided the work into functional groups and by Sunday had a Minimum Value Proposition â€œMVPâ€ to present to the judges.
Neissâ€™ presentation began by congratulating to all the finalists with a reminder that while great ideas are sparked at this event, no one would go very far without funding.Â And thatâ€™s where their idea came in.Â With only 5 minutes to explain and demonstrate their proof of concept, Neiss was able to win over the 5Â industry experts and VC judges.Â Winning comes with a variety of prizes that include a month of free social media support and 3 months of free office space at a Miami incubator.
Maris McEdwards Community Manager for Startup Weekend Corporate had the following to say, â€œStartup Weekendâ€™s mission is to empower entrepreneurs to create new and innovative solutions to real-world problems.Â Â We encourage teams to incorporate customer validation and feedback at every stage of development.Â Â Personal experience provided Sherwood years to think about and perfect this funding and investment option for entrepreneurs. Their win at Startup Weekend Miami was not simply due to a great solution; a large part of their success can be attributed to a thorough knowledge of the problem they were tackling.Â Given the positive response from the Startup Weekend Miami judges and attendees, they have clearly defined entrepreneurs’ needs and are building some serious momentum for Crowd Fund Investing.â€
With 3rd party validation about the business model, Neiss will be using this as further evidence that the time is ripe for the SEC to update the Security Laws to include an exemption based on the framework in The Startup Exemption.
â€œReversing the Decline in Capital Formationâ€
Sherwood Speaks, LLC
Miami Beach, Florida
May 10, 2011
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
United States House of Representatives
The Honorable Darrell Issa, Chairman
The Honorable Elijah Cummings, Ranking Member
Chairman Issa, Ranking Member Cummings and members of the Committee, thank you for holding this hearing today and allowing me to share an entrepreneurâ€™s perspective on improving capital formation through regulatory modernization.Â My intention is to explain why outdated securities laws — put in place before the Internet age — need to be modernized and overhauled, and how these reforms can boost our struggling economy.Â By revamping the Security and Exchange Commissionâ€™s (SECâ€™s) position on solicitation and accreditation, we can open the doors to small business growth and prosperity.Â Allowing for an exemption for Crowd Fund Investing, which includes protections for investors, will spur innovation among your constituents, create jobs, increase consumer spending, and reinvigorate our economy. Continue reading