We once lived in a world of exclusive investing.
Until recently, the majority of Americans were not permitted to invest in private companies solely because of their status as “non-accredited investors,” meaning they had personal wealth of less than $1 million or an annual income of less than $200,000 or joint income of $300,000. That translated to limited investment options for retail investors, and even fewer fundraising options for private companies, which were left to their personal networks, direct contacts, venture capital firms, or banks to get the capital they needed to bring their ideas to life.
This started to change in 2012. Congress passed the JOBS Act (which stands for Jumpstarting Our Businesses and Startups) which has led to the gradual opening of investment opportunities to retail investors—enabling private companies or startups to raise capital from the 98% of Americans who are not accredited investors. Since the JOBS Act was enacted, crowd investment has emerged as a powerful tool for newly empowered investors to invest in ventures they believe in. So powerful that Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research Group estimates the “immediate financial opportunity available” via equity crowdfunding at $1.2 trillion(1). This figure is greater than the fintech subsectors of payments, small business lending, consumer lending, and student lending combined(2).
Doors opened wider in 2015, when a specific provision of the JOBS Act called Title IV, or Regulation A+, came into effect. Similar to an IPO, Title IV allows companies that receive SEC approval to raise up to $50 million dollars from any investor—and to offer these shares publically to investors of all types.
This allows people to support ventures that might have previously been overlooked by traditional investors. The choice to invest placed in the hands of many people just may change the makeup of local communities and the economy more broadly. Imagine if a community solar developer just needed another $100,000 to start producing clean energy for her neighborhood and generating returns for her backers—would you support her?
Thanks to Title IV, rabble and other equity fundraising platforms are helping founders raise money to launch or expand their ventures by connecting them with people like you. On rabble’s site, founders raise funds from backers with the shared aim of building projects that strengthen communities. Together, they are creating sustainable projects that generate financial returns and real social and environmental impact within our communities. This law represents a shift in what’s possible. Welcome to the new world of investing for all.
(1) Terry, Heath P., Debra Schwartz, and Tina Sun, “The Future of Finance: The Socialization of Finance Part 3.” Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research. Goldman Sachs. 13 March 2015. PDF.
(2) Strong, Andrew; Equity Crowdfunding is Good News for Clean Tech; EDF; blogs.edf.com