As long as traditional startup companies have existed, so has the reign of venture capital firms. Not every business can become a unicorn or even a decacorn – a private startup worth at least $10 billion. However, the rise of equity crowdfunding platforms has allowed everyday people access to investors and capital. This has been thanks to Regulation Crowdfunding (CF) and Regulation A+. Reg A and CF allow unaccredited investors the opportunity to invest in private companies using SEC-registered funding portals and broker-dealers.
It has been 12 years since the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) revised the Regulation A offerings set by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Under the Reg A securities offering, companies can receive a maximum crowdfunding offering of $50 million within a 12-month period.
According to former President Obama during the annual State of the Union address, “The American Jobs Act will repair and modernize at least 35,000 schools. It will put people to work right now, fixing roofs and windows [and] installing science labs and high-speed internet in classrooms all across this country. It will rehabilitate homes and businesses in communities hit hardest by foreclosures. It will jumpstart thousands of transportation projects across the country.” Since the 2016 speech, more financial business leaders and personal finance gurus have been turning to Reg A and CF to raise money for game-changing companies.
Here, we will examine how Reg A and CF appeal to startup founders in finding alternative fundraising methods across the wide investor scene. Discovering broader investment opportunities and having more flexible access to capital are a couple of key benefits. And, businesses can face less stringent federal regulations, while also driving greater brand and marketing awareness. Needless to say, Regulation A and crowdfunding provide startup founders with opportunities like never before.
Investor Opportunities are Now Broader
One of the most essential reasons more entrepreneurs are looking to Reg A and CF is that finding investors is no longer as challenging. Before the implementation of Regulation A+, traditional investment methods, such as private placements and real estate investments, were limited by who could access startup capital.
With Reg A, companies can now freely raise capital from either accredited — or non-accredited — investors. By allowing the public to obtain these securities, startup businesses can now reach a larger pool of investors.
Meanwhile, crowdfunding platforms that steer various crowdfunding campaigns support start-ups in reaching a wider audience of smaller investors. These companies are often less likely to receive full funding from a single donor. However, they can instead can get support from multiple investors. As a result, granting individuals access to investment prospects allows startup founders to participate, even without substantial capital available.
One of Reg A’s top broker-dealers and capital-raising platforms is the Dalmore Group, responsible for over 50% of all Reg A offerings in the United States. They note that one of the best things about raising capital with a Reg A or crowdfunding structure is having a large base of investors that go from spreading brand awareness to creating active “brand advocates and champions for what you are doing.”
Greater Regulatory Flexibility
Gravitating towards Reg A and CF, startups are provided a more flexible environment. Additionally, they will have a middle ground between a full IPO and private fundraising.
According to the Dalmore Group, the greatest distinction of the various benefits of Reg A or crowdfunding offerings is the differences in regulatory and legal requirements compared to other structures, such as Regulation D or an initial public offering (IPOs).
While “there are limitations that companies should be aware of related to how you market your offering to the public as well as ongoing requirements after the offering,” it also gives founders greater flexibility when it comes to building fundraising strategies. However, they say, “It’s important to note that companies should not be navigating this alone. You need to meticulously vet a fundraising platform or broker-dealer to partner with you on this journey and help simplify the regulatory and legal hurdles.”
For example, Tier 2 of Regulation A allows companies to raise as much as $75 million annually. And, it has specific disclosure requirements attached. This less stringent regulatory framework gives companies greater access to funding than traditional funding methods. This is one of several reasons why small businesses are searching for alternative funding methods like Reg A. Particularly, it’s why they’re doing so in a changing financial landscape that is forcing new entrepreneurs to implement a growth mindset strategy.
Easier Startup Access to Capital
Likely, the greatest limitation that startup founders face is starting a business without initial capital. John Rampton cites that approximately 61 percent of American entrepreneurs have an idea for starting a business, while another 34 percent have more than one idea. Despite this, 62 percent of those same Americans haven’t implemented their business plans because of funding constraints.
An article published in The New York Times in 2022 notes that since the pandemic, start-up investment opportunities have been easier to come by. The roles in accessing financial capital have switched where technology startups, and others, listen to investor pitch decks instead.
This is partly due to Reg A streamlining the process regarding smaller companies going public. While traditional IPOs can be costly and oftentimes burdensome to manage, Reg A offers a more accessible way for startup founders to raise funds and become publicly traded entities. Rather than looking at investors who are solely looking for companies that will deliver multinational growth, small businesses are allowed to raise smaller amounts of funding from multiple investors. Startup founders can accomplish this by communicating with local investors, attending area business networking events, and building social media campaigns.
Why Accessible Capital Benefits Startup Founders
The same can be said for crowdfunding platforms that provide a simple, online method for startup founders to steer the fundraising process. As a result, startup founders can witness greater benefits — for both investors and companies. Online crowdfunding platforms provide startups with a user-friendly interface where they can present their ideas to potential investors. In turn, this accelerates the funding process significantly.
It’s important to note that crowdfunding platforms are still subject to federal regulations. Regardless, they empower established small businesses and startups to reach more sizable investments. Forbes Advisor recognizes that “the process entails more rules than you would encounter with a simple online fundraising campaign like GoFundMe or Kickstarter” and that it is essential to follow the rules for the best results. With equity crowdfunding, startup founders can identify their terms, valuations, and fundraising goals that give them greater control over the fundraising process.
Heightened Engagement and Marketing Growth
When considering new business opportunities, investors want to ensure financial security. This way, the company would still have the capacity to keep audience engagement high, even when economic conditions fall. Several investments, such as real estate, are known for remaining steady in a downturn. However, having the right marketing methods in place can also make a difference.
When it comes to promoting engagement and marketing, unlike traditional investment methods, startups have the opportunity to build awareness. And, they can attract a wider pool of investors. The same can be said for crowdfunding. This is because the online nature of the platforms facilitates an environment for simplified sharing and social media engagement. Rather than simply reaching out to large investors who are not necessarily brand-aware, startups can leverage crowdfunding platforms for marketing purposes to drive a buzz around new startup projects.
A recent publication on “Social Media Marketing for Equity Crowdfunding” by the Finance Research Letters journal recognizes that persuasive posts that aim to directly influence investment decision-making are the most effective. While informative posts provided investors with details about the crowdfunding campaigns for 26,883 startup opportunities, it was found that persuasive posts left a positive impact and encouraged higher investment pledges.
A New Economic Landscape for Fundraising
Whether a new business entrepreneur chooses to utilize Reg A or CF is dependent on many factors. These might include their specific startup needs, the types of industry investors they are looking to attract, and various regulatory considerations. The changes made since the implementation of the JOBS Act have had a positive and powerful impact on existing small businesses and rising startup companies that are otherwise limited to capital funding.
By using Reg A and CF, companies can reach a wider range of potential investors. They can also increase their visibility on the market, and even raise more capital–if given the right conditions. Both startup funding options have their advantages. So, startups should consider them carefully to determine the right fundraising approach. This should also include whether all requirements are met, and what implications could potentially be factored in. In the end, the new Regulation A+ and crowdfunding rules set by the JOBS Act are changing how we view businesses in today’s economic climate since the pandemic. They are also creating a more interconnected place for founders and investors to exist.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by RDNE Stock Project; Pexels; Thank you.
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