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Why due diligence matters in equity crowdfunding

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VB Posted by Micro Ventures  |  May 25, 2013

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VentureBeat recently reported that funding marketplace MicroVentures raised over $16 million for tech startups. Over the past 2 years, MicroVentures has reviewed over 2,000 companies and through its rigorous review process, filtered the prospective list to less than 40, which met the criteria to raise on the platform. This represents approximately 2 percent of the companies that initiated the process. Once the SEC issues the final rules around the JOBS Act, it will pave the way for funding portals to start equity-based crowdfunding, giving more startups an opportunity to find a place to raise capital. Many of those 2,000 companies will now have another resource available to raise capital online.

What does this mean for investors?

It means that investors will likely spend more of their time searching multiple “Equity Crowdfunding” sites attempting to understand the risks associated with deals on any given platform. Early stage investing is inherently high risk/reward. However, risk correlates closely to transparency, which can only be achieved through professional due diligence performed by experienced individuals. Over the last year we have seen an uptick in the number of companies requesting funding as a result of the JOBS Act. Because of this, it is critical that investors are only offered opportunities that have been properly vetted and reviewed prior to listing on a given site, in order for the investor to make an intelligent and informed investment decision. This review coincidentally also adds value to the company looking for capital, as it helps them understand what information is important to investors from Day One, helping them start with shareholder value in mind.

What do online investors look for in a deal?

Here are a few of the many factors investors look for when reviewing a startup:

1)     Experienced Team – Investors look for a team that has experienced both success and failure. They look for teams that have met challenges and figured out how to get over, under, around, or through.

2)     Traction – For early stage companies traction doesn’t necessarily have to be revenue. It could mean a successful beta with active users and a healthy growth rate. However, proof of execution is key.

3)     Angel Money – Investors would like to see investments from angels or VCs, who can add value beyond simply capital.

Receiving positive feedback in the three areas above may create initial interest from investors reviewing an opportunity on an online platform. However, in order to create a win-win for both investors and the company raising capital, investors must have access to fundamental information about the company and be able to determine whether any growth inhibiting liabilities exist. Without rigorous due diligence, this is impossible. For example, it is great to see high profile angel investors participate in a round with a company you might have interest investing in, but that information alone provides you with no detail regarding that investor’s agenda, reason for investing in the given company, personal relationship with the company, etc. It is paramount as an investor that you understand how each startup featured is being vetted and that the due diligence criteria matches aligns with your methodologies for making risk-based decisions.

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share save 171 16 - Why due diligence matters in equity crowdfunding

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