Crowdfunding in general—and equity crowdfunding in particular—is set to become the primary way in which small businesses will finance their launch and growth in the twenty first century. Last week we gave a brief overview of the different types of crowdfunding on offer, but today, we’re going to delve deeper into the concept of equity crowdfunding.
In a nutshell, equity crowdfunding is a new method of seeking financing that allows companies of all sizes, including startups, to raise funds through secured online platforms, giving them access to large numbers of qualified investors. Equity crowdfunding gives companies (otherwise known as issuers) an attractive option for raising funds, and provides investors with the possibility of a handsome return on their investment.
What exactly is equity crowdfunding?
With equity crowdfunding, the investors become a shareholder in the company. An investor owns shares in a company that may provide the investor with benefits such as the right to vote at shareholder meetings, entitlement to dividends out of the company’s profits (if declared), and the investors get to share in the value in the company when shares are sold. Of course this means that they run the same risks that any investor faces when owning shares in a company, in that the company may fail or its value may decline.
Equity crowdfunding offers investors and companies great new options for buying into and funding new business ventures, as up until now there has really been no precedent for non-professional investors to invest in innovative ideas and potentially yield good returns. This makes the growing popularity of equity crowdfunding particularly exciting for busuness owners and investors alike.
Who can invest?
There can be two types of investors in equity crowdfunding—accredited investors and non-accredited investors.
Accredited investors are those investors deemed by the securities commissions to be high net worth individuals who would not be catastrophically impacted financially if an investment in a company seeking funds through equity crowdfunding fails. Each country has its own parameters, but roughly the top 3 to 5 percent of a country’s population would qualify as accredited investors. Typically both the issuers and the equity crowdfunding portal used must confirm the investors’ qualification with the local securities rules.
Non-Accredited investors are the “rest of us”—the rest of the country’s population that do not meet the requirements to be registered as an accredited investor.
What is an equity crowdfunding portal?
Equity crowdfunding portals bring companies and investors together in a secure cloud-computing platform. There are portals providing investment opportunities for accredited investors and non-accredited investors. Equity portals will also vary on size of offerings and vertical industry sectors. Issuers exchanges shares (or securities) for investors’ money via a selected equity crowdfunding portal. Currently in most North American jurisdictions only accredited investors can invest in equity crowdfunding—although there are a handful of exceptions to that rule.
Don’t miss the next instalment to our Introduction to Crowdfunding series, “How to Prepare for Equity Crowdfunding”.