The Equity of the Crowds

The U.K. Already Has Equity-Based Crowdfunding, and This Startup Just Set a Record

(escapethecity.org)

U.S.-based crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and ArtistShare offer a huge range of creative perks like T-shirts, backstage access, chip clips, or a week’s worth of personal training alongside Bret Easton Ellis. But what if a startup could offer equity in the company to the little people who helped make it happen?

The JOBS Act, passed in April, gave the SEC a directive to clear the path for equity-based crowdfunding (some call it “crowdinvesting”) sites. The regulatory agency is deliberating over the rules now, with the goal of publishing the new rules by January. We’ll see how that goes, given how complicated crowdfunding is. What are the disclosure requirements for companies? What kind of due diligence will an equity-based crowdfunding “portal” have to do? Yes, the Act and the SEC are calling crowdfunding sites “portals.”

Meanwhile, across the pond, equity-based crowdfunding is already legal and underway. A London-based startup called Escape the City has raised £557,920 (roughly $892,481) on a £600,000 goal with 14 days to go on the equity crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. The startup upped its goal because of high demand. Escape the City is a social network somewhere between LinkedIn and Idealist.org; it aims to match dissatisfied corporate drones with new jobs, more noble jobs, or professional adventures abroad. Read More