Late October saw some exciting activity in the crowdfunding industry, but federal equity crowdfunding is still not possible. As we head into the final two months of 2014, the industry seems to be growing weary of waiting for the SEC to produce final rules. That is not to say that anyone is giving up on crowdfunding—quite the opposite!
The 3rd Annual Crowdfunding Global Crowdfunding Convention & Bootcamp (GCCB) took place in Las Vegas. I have attended all three conferences and over the past two years, the GCCB scope has expanded to include all types of crowdfunding, not just equity crowdfunding under the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act.
The sheer magnitude and explosion globally of all forms of crowdfunding was outlined in a new report, JOBS Impact Rating. This report was a collaboration between Crowdfund Capital Advisors and The Crowd Data Center.
Other GCCB speakers have weighed in on the industry: Prosper published this article last week. The industry has some great associations; I belong to both the Crowdfunding Professionals Association and sit on the Board of the Crowdfund Intermediary Regulatory Advocates (CFIRA).
As we head to Washington for the annual Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Government-Business Forum on Small Business Capital Formation and a CFIRA meeting that is open to the public, I interviewed the executives of CFIRA to provide more background to the industry association.
Mary Juetten: What’s the name of your company?
CFIRA: Crowdfund Intermediary Regulatory Association (CFIRA)
Juetten: When did you start?
CFIRA: We started in April 2012.
Juetten: Where are you based?
CFIRA: Our headquarters are in New York.
Juetten: What does your company do? What problem are you solving?
CFIRA: CFIRA is a Not-for-Profit 501(c)(4), and was established following the signing of the JOBS Act by the industry’s thought leaders who pioneered the first Crowdfunding Act, to serve as advocates and lobbyist for the industry formed CFIRA. We work alongside the SEC, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and other governmental and quasi-governmental entities to help establish rules, industry standards, and best practices.
The membership of CFIRA is composed of intermediaries (crowdfunding platforms and broker dealers), investors, issuers (entrepreneurs and small businesses), third-party service providers (such as technology vendors, attorneys, and accountants), and other crowdfunding related service providers.
Juetten: What's the vision for your company?
CFIRA: Over 100 members have voluntarily joined our community, encouraging all companies, investors, third-party service providers, and students to advocate and lobby. As a result of our collective success, individuals and communities will enjoy greater economic opportunity.
Juetten: Startups are an adventure. What's your favorite startup story?
CFIRA: Oculus Rift raised $2.5 million on Kickstarter by approximately 9600 backers, then turned around and sold the company to Facebook for $2 billion. The example demonstrates that, in an equitable democratic society, everyone has the right to participate. When equity-based crowdfunding is extended to the non-accredited investor (mom & pop) as well as small and medium businesses, there can be an opportunity for a rate of return for investors.
Juetten: How do you measure success and what is your favorite success story?
CFIRA: Success is when all small and medium sized businesses or emerging growth companies have the opportunity to raise capital for their companies from accredited and non-accredited investors equally.
Juetten: And of course, any IP horror stories to share (they can be anonymous)?
CFIRA: None that can be commented on.
Juetten: Here’s one for our readers. It’s a story of a recent Kickstarter campaign that was taken down due to intellectual property concerns.
CFIRA will hold its 2nd Annual Regulatory and Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C. on, Friday, November 21st. Attendees will network with fellow crowdfunding advocates, members of Congress, policymakers, and industry thought leaders. The event’s half-day agenda will include a keynote address and span three core panels including Post Election Review of Outcomes and How It Could Affect Regulations under the JOBS Act; Crowdfinance Data; and Title III and Title IV Regulatory and Industry Updates. The event is open to the public and free.
Before you set out to crowdfund, be educated. We packed the best info into our Ultimate Startup Toolkit.