Friday, June 6, 2014

Investment Crowdfunding Can Become a Reality in North Carolina This Year

The North Carolina JOBS Act enables a new way of funding startups and small business in our state known as investment crowdfunding. The FAQs and other posts on www.jobsnc.blogspot.com provide details and analysis of what the bill does and how it will work. The legislation (H680) passed the NC House by an almost unheard of bipartisan vote of 103 to 1 last June, and is now pending in the NC Senate for the short session beginning May 14th. So if everything goes as expected, 2014 will be the year that intrastate investment crowdfunding will become a reality in North Carolina.

Over the last year here in the U.S., there have been a number of important developments in the investment crowdfunding exemption story. Many states are following in the footsteps of Kansas and Georgia, who were the first to implement in-state investment crowdfunding exemptions by regulation, and North Carolina, where we were the first to introduce an exemption by legislation.

As of today seven states - Kansas, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, WashingtonIndiana, and Alabama - have intrastate crowdfunding exemptions in place, four states - North Carolina, Florida, Texas and California - have legislation pending, and five more including Idaho, Colorado, Maine, Maryland and New Jersey are in various stages of considering the idea. Here is a comparison of several of these intrastate crowdfunding exemptions. 

Many more states are expected to join the intrastate investment crowdfunding movement because it grows the economy from the ground up and creates jobs locally.  And here is a statement from North Carolina Congressman Patrick McHenry, the original creator and sponsor of the the Federal JOBS Act, on why he supports state based solutions like NC JOBS

In the startup community, which is so important for North Carolina in both the technology and life sciences markets, a report in Entrepreneur Magazine says that crowdfunding is the fastest growing source of funding for startups. In addition, accredited investor crowdfunding sites like AngelList and FundersClub have proven how effective they can be in providing funding for high growth startups. As an example, just one of the investment crowdfunding sites called EquityNet has over 130 investment crowdfunding projects listed just in the biotech-pharmaceutical-healthcare category.

So what else has changed since last year?

Crowdfunding in general, and investment crowdfunding in particular have been growing very rapidly in the US and around the world. The biggest donation and rewards based site Kickstarter just announced that they surpassed $1B in pledges to crowdfunding campaigns hosted on their site.  Entrepreneur Magazine calls the growth of crowdfunding ‘epic’ and says the crowdfunding economy has tripled in 3 years and was over $5.1B in 2013. They also expect crowdfunding to provide a $65B boost to the world wide economy in 2014.

In the United Kingdom, where investment crowdfunding has been legal for over 3 years, the investment site CrowdCube has announced their stats on their 3rd birthday in 2014:
         
“The platform has raised £19.9 million (around $33 million) for 103 businesses, which Crowdcube anticipates will add 1900 jobs over the next three years. Darren Westlake, the company’s cofounder and CEO also mentioned that the company grew by 562 percent on the year before, and it sees over 100 applications per month. The company has 60,000 registered members.”

And that is just one of the many investment crowdfunding platforms operating in the UK, other parts of Europe, and in Australia.

Meanwhile, several types of investment crowdfunding have taken off like rockets in 2013. One is investment crowdfunding in startups for accredited investors on sites like AngelList, another one is called Peer-to-Peer (P2P) lending, where people get personal loans from the crowd, and a third is real estate crowdfunding, where local real estate development projects are funded by the community crowd.

Many more market segments are just beginning to use investment crowdfunding as a financing method. And venture capitalists are making major investments in a wide variety of crowdfunding platforms and services around the nation, because they see this as a major growth industry in the financial sector coming down the road.  A report by nowstreetwire has more details on these trends.

So what does all this mean to North Carolina?

It means we can benefit from these trends by helping our small businesses and startups to participate. We can make it much easier for them to find funding. And that funding will help them grow and create jobs. The NC JOBS Act investment crowdfunding exemption will be an important part of making it happen.

Support the North Carolina JOBS Act:

If you have not yet done so, now is the time to contact your state Senators with an email of your support for  H680, the NC JOBS Act. It is very easy to do using the links we give below.
If you have any questions or comments, please email the JOBS NC Crowdfunding Team at jobsnc@nc.rr.com or contact Representative Murry’s office at murryla@ncleg.net.


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