Jason Best, Zak Cassady-Dorion and Sherwood Neiss are all entrepreneurs working to grow businesses. Collectively they have raised over $100M in capital. They deeply understand the process, rules, disclosures and risks of capital formation from both the entrepreneur’s and the investor’s point of view. They also understand the challenges, time and costs it takes to raise money. Post the 2008 financial crisis, the media made it seem like there were lots of loans, grants, programs, and private (Angel, PE & VC) money available to small business/entrepreneurs. When they actually explored these options, they found that banks were not lending, credit was limited, private money scarce and the available programs so difficult to work through that they gave up. They couldn’t comprehend why with today’s technology they could fund entrepreneurs in Uganda through Kiva or an ipod nano developer through Kickstarter but not use the same principles to raise capital from their community to create business and jobs. They, like everyone who has raised capital, knows it is illegal to publicly solicit money in the USA from unaccredited investors so they figured it was time to update the laws to reflect the advances in technology and the Internet. They created a regulatory framework that balanced the needs of entrepreneurs and investor protection in order to make CrowdFund Investing legal.
Chances are this entrepreneur has already helped you, your child, someone very close or even your pet. As a 3-time INC500 winner whose company won E&Y’s Entrepreneur of the Year, Sherwood understands the keys to entrepreneurial success from concept to company to sale.
Sherwood Neiss started his post-MBA career on Wall Street and moved to Silicon Valley where by his 29th birthday reached the personal and financial goals he set for his 30th year. Wondering what to do next and also left struggling with a debilitating family dilemma, he used his entrepreneurial drive to help turn his family adversity into a multi-million dollar company that today is helping millions of sick children, animals and adults get better by being more compliant with their medicines.
Sherwood Neiss co-founded FLAVORx (www.flavorx.com) the company makes 42 yummy flavors that take the yuck out of medicine. His structured approach helped not only build a business model that threw off millions of dollars in cash but also helped grow the business from one pharmacy to over 80% of the pharmacies in the United States. He raised millions of dollars in capital and saw the culmination of his endeavors with the sale of the company in 2007.
Sherwood is an avid public speaker. He speaks at universities and seminars around the world about what it takes to be an entrepreneur, how to fund your idea and build a winning company. He testified at three Congressional hearings; one on the impediments to capital formation under Sarbanes-Oxley and two regarding access to capital for entrepreneurs and Crowdfund Investing. His SOX testimony was one of the reasons the Small Business Exemption to section 404(b) audit requirements was passed in July 2010.
Most recently Sherwood won the November 2010 & May 2011 Startup Weekend Challenges in Miami to use smartphones for instant polling & for an equity based crowdfunding platform. In 2011/12, he advocated for the SEC to update the securities laws to make it legal for groups of people to pool small dollar amounts of money together to invest in startups aka “Crowdfund Investing.”
When not working, Sherwood is an avid traveler. He lived in Japan for a year and post-sale of FLAVORx took his second backpacking trip around the world. In addition to speaking at universities and businesses around the country he invests in real estate in the U.S. and Brazil, is part of a Private Equity group in Los Angeles, is working on a clean tech project in Puerto Rico and is involved with several other start-up ventures.
Jason Best is a Co-Founder of Startup Exemption and brings over 10 years of executive management experience at 2 SaaS healthcare businesses (one of which he co-founded) in the bay area. His work there included starting a business from the ground-up during the dot com crash, building broad coalitions of US medical societies in support of Internet-based physician-patient communication and changing FDA regulations to enable physicians to receive electronic medication and device warnings instead of paper. This change dramatically increases patient safety while reducing time and costs for physicians and the pharmaceutical industry.
He is a successful entrepreneur and consultant to technology companies on business development and strategy issues to enable companies to grow quickly and effectively. In both 2010 and 2011, his work in strategy development, building scaleable processes, partnership development and branding/marketing, led to one of his clients, Kinnser Software, being named by Inc. Magazine as one of the 500 fastest growing private companies in the USA.
In Dec 2010, he also Co-Founded A Single Production Company, a documentary film company based in Bangkok Thailand. He has served as the Executive Producer for its first feature “The Cheer Ambassadors”. The film will premier at the Bangkok World Film Festival in January 2012. He is also working on a program with local entrepreneurs and educators to create a more entrepreneurial Web development industry in Thailand.
Jason earned his MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management, the world’s top international MBA program as well as a BA from William Jewell College, ranked by Forbes and US News and World Report as one of America’s best national liberal arts colleges. He has lived and worked in Europe, South America and Asia. He grew up in Louisiana and is now based in San Francisco, California to be near snow skiing, the ocean and wine country.
Zak Cassady-Dorion is co founder and partner of Startup Exemption, responsible for the framework of all current Crowdfunding legislation in congress, as well as the Crowdfunding portions of President Obama’s 2011 jobs act. The 3 co founders of Startup Exemption have bootstrapped their advocacy efforts and have worked closely with Chairman McHenry on hr 2930, including testifying before his committee on Crowdfunding.
Zak is currently the VP business development for a small business in upstate New York and has a passion for entrepreneurship. He has successful entrepreneurial experience in Latin America and South East Asia, in addition to a successful business development career with Wyndham Worldwide. He earned his MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management, ranked as the world’s top international MBA program and a BS from the University of Vermont. Zak is also fluent in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.