The first approach to crowdfinding is donation or “rewards based”. It utilizes recently developed websites – online platforms including Kickstarter, Indiegogo and RocketHub, where artists and entrepreneurs mount campaigns to seek online donations or presale products, generally offering rewards for donations but no debt or equity. These kinds of fundraising campaigns were discussed in depth at the April 17, 2013 ENET meeting including two speakers who had mounted successful kickstarter campaigns. Their slides are available in the ENET meeting archives at http://www.boston-enet.org/meetings/meeting-archives
Our May 6th ENET meeting will focus on the second approach - “securities or equity based” crowdfunding, authorized in the U.S. by the JOBS Act of April 2012. The law would allow entrepreneurs to raise up to $1 million from small investors through registered broker dealers or newly authorized "investor portals". The contributors would receive either equity or debt securities for their investments, with the money refundable if fundraising target is not met. However, for implementation of this second approach, the SEC has to first issue regulations to implement the law to make it completely effective. To date, Title II of the JOBS Act is effective. Title II allows for much broader general solicitaions and the registration of funding portals, with funding at this stage only by accredited investors. When implemented, Title III of the JOBS Act would allow investment in start up companies by the general public within certain annual limitations based on the non-accredited investor’s income. There is expectation that SEC may issue final regulations which would implement Title III as early as this summer 2014.
We feature two speakers who are top authorities in this field. One speaker, Mike Norman, who lobbied hard for the JOBS Act, was present at its signing, and is Co-founder and President of WeFunder, a leading securities based investor portal. HIs company has made 13 investments since the law went into effect. Mike will lead discussion on the different investment portals and the state of SEC progress on Title III implementation. Our second speaker, Christopher Mirabile, who is co-Managing Director of Launchpad Venture Group, the largest angel group in New England and top-three ranked group in the U.S., has spoken frequently on crowdfunding’s strengths and pitfalls for early stage entrepreneurs. He will offer his own comments on funding portals and provide tips for entrepreneurs considering crowdfunding. ENET’s Chairman and startup attorney Robert Adelson will moderate the presentations.
Christopher Mirabile, Co-Managing Director of Launchpad Venture Group, http://www.launchpadventures.com
a venture investment group focused on seed and early-stage investments in technology-oriented companies. He is a full-time angel and an active member of the Boston-area angel investing community with investments in more than 40 start-up companies. He was named one of XConomy's "Top Angel Investors in New England." Christopher is an adjunct lecturer in the MBA program at Babson's Olin School of Business, a regular advisor and mentor to start-ups, and a frequent panelist and speaker. He is a founder of Seraf, a financial services start-up based in Boston. He is a member of the Board of Directors or Board of Advisors of numerous start-up companies as well as several non-profits, including serving on the board of the Angel Capital Association. Christopher has served as a public company CFO with IONA Technologies PLC, a corporate and securities lawyer with Testa Hurwitz & Thibeault and as a management consultant with Price Waterhouse's Strategic Consulting Group.
Michael Norman, President of WeFunder, http://www.wefunder.com/
Mike Norman is the Cofounder and President of the crowd investing platform Wefunder.com
. Wefunder is a Y Combinator Alum with a 26,000 member investor community and a portfolio that includes other YC companies and an operational flying car. Mike helped craft the crowdfunding portion of the JOBS Act and watched Obama sign it into law at the White House. Prior to Wefunder Mike founded SoChange, a web and mobile platform where consumers use their spending to convince companies to improve their social or environmental performance. He holds an MBA from MIT Sloan and has represented the USA as part of the national San Shou kickboxing team.
Moderator: Robert Adelson, business and tax attorney and partner at the Boston law firm of Engel & Schultz LLP (www.ExecutiveEmploymentAttorney.com ), and Chairman of IEEE Boston Entrepreneurs’ Network
. Rob has been an attorney for over 30 years specializing in business, tax, stock and options, employment, contracts, financings, trademarks and intellectual property. Rob began as an associate at major New York law firms before returning home to Boston in 1985 where he has since been a partner in small and medium sized firms before joining his present firm in 2004. Rob represents entrepreneurs, start-ups and small companies, independent contractors and employees and executives. Rob is a frequent speaker on business law topics and author of numerous articles published in Boston Business Journal, Mass High Techand other publications. He has been named among the “Top 20 Boston Startup Lawyers” by ChubbyBrain.com, a website that provides tools for entrepreneurs. Rob has been on the ENET Board since 2002 and Chairman since 2009 and is also a Board member of the 128 Innovation Capital Group. He holds degrees from Boston University, B.A., summa cum laude, Northwestern University (Chicago), J.D., Law Review, and New York University, LL.M. in Taxation.