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Startup Exemption is the name entrepreneurs Sherwood Neiss, Jason Best and Zak Cassady-Dorion created to describe their Crowdfund Investing (CFI) framework. The framework is an exemption under Regulation D Securities Offerings that would allow startups and small businesses to raise a limited amount of seed and growth capital from their social networks using SEC-registered websites. Their framework was the basis for the four Crowdfunding bills introduced in Congress and endorsed by the President. Their first bill passed the US House in November, 2011, 407-17 and the US Senate on March 22, 2012 as part of the JOBS Act with a vote 73-26. The path from idea to law in 460 days can be found at: www.startupexemption.com & www.legalizecrowdfunding.org.
Since the President signed the bill into law, they have started Crowdfund Capital Advisors, a strategy and technology consulting firm for investors, entrepreneurs, governments and NGO’s. They can be found speaking globally about the shift crowdfund investing is going to make, how it will spur entrepreneurship & innovation and create millions of jobs!
A congressional committee will hear a “crowdfunding exemption” proposal next week.
by: Paul Spinrad
Next Tuesday, May 10, entrepreneur Sherwood Neiss will be testifying before U.S. Congressman Darrell Issa and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to advocate a regulatory change that I have been working to support: a small offering exemption, aka “crowdfunding exemption.” It’s a simple change that the SEC has the authority to make, and which I believe would spur grassroots innovation and empowerment the way the NSF’s revision of the internet backbone’s Acceptable Use Policy did back in the early 1990s. (Remember that one?)
The background (which I didn’t know until fairly recently), is that any investment where the return does not depend on the investor’s active, day-to-day involvement is considered a security. And securities, no matter how small, are either regulated by the SEC or state securities departments. There are no de minimis exceptions; shares in a lemonade stand would require registration, which I’m told costs $50,000-$100,000 or more (federal) or $20,000-$50,000 (state), mostly legal fees. For VC-free startups based on people doing things that they care about, these costs are prohibitive. (more…)
Today the Wall Street Journal picked up the story of the startup exemption. As more people hear about this exemption being pushed forward the more people that realize it is a tangible solution to getting money flowing in our economy.
Senators John Kerry, D-Mass., and Richard Lugar, R-Ind. are leading the way to ease immigration requirements for foreign entrepreneurs with their “Startup Visa” bill. There are many different requirements to qualify for the Startup Visa, but most importantly the foreign entrepreneur must directly create jobs for Americans. Essentially, what this is saying is that foreigner entrepreneurs will be allowed to come and work in the US if they have a direct and major impact on the US economy.
These visas will not effect the overall immigration quotas in the US, they will simply be using unused visas. Entrepreneurs, small businesses and startups are the way we are going to grow our economy to get out of this recession. The UK has already realized this and have passed a Startup Visa of their own recently. It is important to note that the crowd funding exemption we are talking about here at Startup Exemption is already allowed in the UK. If the US does not move fast we are going to get left behind while entrepreneurs, money, and jobs flow overseas to the UK and other more forward thinking countries.
Want to know how we are going to kick start our economy? Follow successful entrepreneur and Miami Beach resident, Sherwood (Woodie) Neiss and you’ll see.
Woodie is another one of those “Type-A, I can do anything I put my mind to” personalities. He is an ambitious entrepreneur who just won Miami’s “Startup Weekend” with an idea to use smartphones for instant polling. He was also in the June, 2006 INC cover story “From the Heart” where he helped start and grow a 3-time, INC 500 company that solved the problem of getting kids to take yucky tasting medicines. (He successfully exited from that company in 2007).
According to Neiss, the traditional means of startup and growth capital are no longer available to entrepreneurs. “This capital is critical for startups and small businesses to grow and hire Americans,” he says. While government is focused on trying to fix the current system, he thinks the solution goes back to our roots. Roots? Yes indeed, but not the kind you find on vegetables.
“You see,” says Neiss, “when our Nation was born there weren’t big corporations, large banks or even private equity & venture capital. For example, there were businesses like the blacksmith and his customers who needed tools. Customers purchased his products, which paid for his employees and helped fund his growth. And they were his neighbors. Only today do we identify a problem; then come up with a solution (aka product) and think, “ok now let’s find some Venture Capital.” (more…)
American companies are having a very difficult time raising the money they need to grow their businesses. It’s not because the money is not there but rather because it is not flowing from the people who have it to the people that can use it to grow our economy. One of the things that has always made America great is our ability to innovate. Unfortunately, innovation is currently being stifled by overly strict SEC regulations. These regulations however are not stoping other countries from innovating and riding off the coat tails of US entrepreneurs.
GrowVC, a Chinese company, has now launched with its intention to fill this funding void by collecting money from investors (including Americans). They already have successful cases of US Startups raising capital from them. What does this mean? First, by being offshore they just worked around the entire SEC process. And second, the future success stories of the USA as well as their technology, Intellectual Property and future profits will be owned/shipped overseas. The one major loophole in these regulations is that if you are not an American or an American company, you are not regulated by these security laws. Clearly, these outcomes were not the intention of the Securities law however it is exactly what is happening. I personally don’t feel that selling our nation’s entrepreneurs to foreign countries is in anyone’s best interest.
By making common sense amendments to the 1933 and 1934 Securities laws we can stop this mass export of US entrepreneurs and get back on track to recovery and innovation.
Small businesses and startups in the United States are having an increasingly difficult time raising the money they need to expand their businesses. During the recent economic downturn funding has become increasingly difficult to find. Banks have stopped lending, credit card companies are tightening up their lending requirements, and there is substantially less Venture Capital and Private Equity available.
The money is out there but there but it is simply not flowing from the people who have it to the people that need it. Making this problem worse is the stringent investment regulations that the SEC imposes on small businesses. Entrepreneurs and small businesses are starting to look outside the US for the capital they need to expand their businesses.
A recent article in the WSJ highlighted just such a situation. A small manufacturing business in Riverside California, has been desperately searching for capital so it can hire more workers and expand its operations. “During the downturn, we went on the hunt for capital, but after 44 presentations we came up short,” says Mr. Williams, 56 years old. (more…)