Regulation Crowdfunding Surpasses $250,000,000 in Commitments The Model is Working but its Potential is Much Greater

It has been just over 3 years since Regulation Crowdfunding (Reg CF) went into effect and most recently the industry surpassed a quarter of a billion dollars in commitments. Since inception over 1,800 companies in cities all across the United States have filed to raise money under Regulation Crowdfunding. Over 271,000 investors, most of which are friends, followers or customers of these businesses have made commitments to start, scale or expand operations. The average raise stands around $237,000 which firmly addresses the Valley of Death[1] issue. Most of the successful companies are raising funds in less than 90 days which is far faster than other forms of financing like Venture Capital or Bank Loans. There’s been no fraud or Wild West as opponents had claimed. “Essentially we built a financing mechanism which is doing exactly what we said it would,” said Sherwood Neiss Principal at Crowdfund Capital Advisors (CCA) “We’re funding local businesses with a vested group of local investors that is creating local jobs and powering local economies.”

Regulation Crowdfunding began on May 16, 2016. It allows any startup or small business to raise up to $1,070,000 online from family, friends and followers (accredited or not) provided issuers use an online investment platform that is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and disclose information about their company and financial wellbeing.

Since the industry began, Crowdfund Capital Advisors has been collecting information on every offering in its CCLEAR Database. CCLEAR is the leading Regulation Crowdfunding database that collects, cleans, aggregates and reports on all companies seeking funds via Regulation Crowdfunding as well as those doing parallel 506(c) offerings[2]. This information includes financial performance, security offering, valuation, industry, daily commitments and number of investors. The information is summarized and published on a daily basis on the CCLEAR Regulation Crowdfunding dashboard.

Here are some key data trends:

  • Capital commitments – From FY17[3] to FY18 capital commitments increased 78% from $45.7M to $81.1M. The second full FY of Reg CF saw capital commitments increase 39% to $113M. Total capital commitments to date is over $250M.
  • Issuers – During the same period the number of companies seeking to raise funds increased 87% from 317 to 592 and 37% to 810 in FY19. Total issuers to date is over 1,800.
  • Investors – The number of individual investors grew from 44.5k in FY17 to 92.6K in FY18 to 117.8K in FY19. Total investors to date is over 270,000.

“No matter how you look at it, there’s been an impressive growth of at least 150% in 2 years,” says Neiss. “If we extrapolate out over the next 2 years, we estimate that over 3,400 companies across the United States will receive half a billion dollars by over half a million investors.”

CCLEAR captures a maximum of 56 different industries from Advertising and Marketing, to Healthcare and Utilities. During the first fiscal year there were 44 industries represented. That number increased to 47 last fiscal year. While application software, alcoholic beverages, business services, consumer packaged goods, entertainment, personal services and restaurants were the most common industries seeking funds, financial services, business services, employment services and retail saw the greatest increase in offerings between the first and third fiscal years. “The wide representation of so many industries speaks to the broad appeal of regulation crowdfunding to both companies seeking and investors looking to deploy capital,” says Neiss. “No matter what industry you are in, if you have an engaged group of customers that could be investors, Regulation Crowdfunding is something you should explore.” Companies in 48 of the 50 States have registered to raise funds via Reg CF.

From an employment perspective, the data shows that Reg CF continues to sustain and support local jobs. In the first fiscal year over 1,482 jobs were supported. This grew by another 3,150 in the second fiscal year and another 4,448 in the third. “Collectively almost 10,000 jobs have been supported around the United States since the launch of Regulation Crowdfunding,” says Neiss. “We expect this number to grow by another 10,000 in the next 2 years. 20,000 jobs means 20,000 people employed by local businesses and reinvesting their income back into these communities through mortgage payments, groceries, dining out, education and more. This is how we support local economies. And we are doing it despite the current $1M cap on company raises. Imagine what we could do if we increased these caps from $1M to $5M, $10M or $20M? It is easy to see how we could increase this from 20,000 to 200,000 jobs.”

While not all Regulation Crowdfunding companies are revenue generating those that are had over $400M of Revenue in their most recent fiscal year. “Given that the majority of these firms are growing and reinvesting their earnings, you can only imagine the multiplier effect that this has on local economies,” says Neiss. “Businesses are reinvesting into their local economies by purchasing goods and services to support them and hiring employees. And employees are using their paychecks to support themselves. Together we estimate they are pouring close to a billion dollars into local economies.”

“You would think everyone would be thrilled about this and talking about it much more,” says Neiss. “If Washington really wants to help small businesses and our economy, they have this hidden gem whose potential has yet to be discovered and promoted.” Major industry players sent a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission during the summer of 2018 seeking to raise the cap from $1M to $20M, as of yet there’s been no response.

[1] The Valley of Death commonly refers to funding that is needed for businesses that is above that which can be personally supplied by the founders and is less that that which is commonly provided by Venture Capital. It is typically from $30,000 to $250,000.

[2] A 506(c) offering is an online accredited investor offering. A parallel offering allows an issuer to run two offerings side-by-side and group the accredited investors in one pool and the Reg CF investors in another. This type of offering is popular for issuers that seek to raise in excess of the $1.07M cap in Regulation Crowdfunding.

[3] We consider the first fiscal year of Regulation Crowdfunding from May, 2016 – April, 2017.