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Realty Mogul Gets a $9M Boost for Real Estate Crowdfunding

By   /  March 27, 2014  /  Business  /  No Comments

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Editor’s Note: David Drake​ of The Soho Loft and LDJ Capital writes in once again to cover the latest big announcement out of the crowdfunding world: today’s new that Realty Mogul has raised a $9 million Series A round led by Canaan Partners.

Realty Mogul, lauded as one of the top real estate crowdfunding platforms just one year after its inception in 2013, has successfully raised $9 million for its platform in a Series A round led by Canaan Partners.

This deal represents one of the largest Series A funding made by a female chief executive officer, and Jilliene Helman, Realty Mogul’s CEO, seeks to “bring the $11 trillion commercial real estate market into the 21st century.”

Related:- RealtyMogul’s First Year Stats [Infographic]

Realty Mogul maintains its transparency by always working alongside professional real estate firms and investment companies, such as AH Capital and Crawford Park Financial, making funding more accessible and investment opportunities more available. Since its launch in 2013, it has now exceeded the $100 million mark of total value of properties backed.

Realty Mogul is currently open to accredited investors who have a net worth over $1 million or an annual income above $200,000. The exclusion of non-accredited investors is in a bid to avoid regulatory drawbacks with the SEC, as well as to ensure compliance. It is with this in mind that Helman believes that, with this financial backing by Canaan, thousands of investors will have easier and more transparent ways to diversify their portfolios within the commercial real estate market that was once hidden behind a closed door.

Armed with modern technologies that make crowdfunding for real estate simpler, the company facilitates online investments of pre-vetted properties and gives investors 24 hour access to investments through an online investor dashboard. Even if investors decide that they would like to invest in a property, their funds are not committed until the full amount has been raised.

Realty Mogul, which approves every listing, has a wide asset base that spans commercial and residential properties as a way for investors to diversify their investments and, by extension, their risk. The investor is subsequently notified of movements on their investments, such as when the full figure has been invested, as well as receiving any resulting distributions, such as rental payments from the properties.

Operating originally from Beverly Hills, CA, Realty Mogul has branched off into several other states to include Tennessee, Washington, Seattle, Kansas, and Texas.

To date, approximately 6000 individual investors have invested $14.6 million in 58 properties across 14 states. Analyses of total figures, states, and capital injected by the company indicate that Realty Mogul is in fact the largest crowdfunding marketplace online, underwriting over $1.5 billion in last year alone. Data from Realty Mogul show that approximately 67 percent of the investments received through this platform are from repeat investors and that another 55 percent of this number consists of individuals making multiple investments.

According to Hrach Simonian, principal at Canaan Partners, “Realty Mogul will be the next disruption in a massive asset class just like LendingClub has been for the consumer credit market.”

Labeled the “Start-up to Watch” by Digital LA’s Digerati Awards, Realty Mogul is turning heads with its innovations and continued success. With this Series A funding facilitated by Canaan Partners, this crowdfunding platform is likely to attract more big spenders. Its secret may not be so much what it is doing, but its incorporation with real estate companies synchronized with its radical way of selling properties. With this much capital injected, and with so many potential investors lining up, the only way now for Realty Mogul is up.

​Jilliene Helman of Realty Mogul will be ​one of the speakers at ​the ​April 24 Global Real Estate Crowdfunding Conference in New York.

David Drake is an early-stage equity expert and the founder and chairman of LDJ Capital, a New York City private equity advisory firm, and The Soho Loft – The Voice of Capital Formation – a global financial media company with divisions in Corporate Communications, Publishing and Expos & Events. You can reach him directly at David@LDJCapital.com.

Tags: crowd-fudning, crowdfunding, david-drake, real-estate-crowdfunding, realty-mogul

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Intel Completes Purchase Of Basis Science, Which Will Join Intel’s Device’s Group

By   /  March 25, 2014  /  Tech  /  No Comments

Intel has just announced its acquisition of Basis Science, the hot wearable technology company based in San Francisco. As TechCrunch first reported, the startup went to the chipmaker for around $100 million. The startup will be part of Intel’s new devices group. Read More

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Accredited Investor Crowdfunding Platforms: A Brief History

By   /  March 25, 2014  /  Business  /  No Comments

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Editor’s Note: The following is the latest guest post from Thomas Vass, manager at The Private Capital Market. Vass shares an excerpt from his forthcoming book, “Accredited Investor Crowdfunding: A Practical Guide for Technology Executives and Entrepreneuers.” In this part, Vass explains the history of funding companies through relatively small investments, and introduces some of the key early players.

Raising small amounts of capital has been an enduring problem for America’s small businesses. The gap in the private capital markets is especially severe for operational high tech companies trying to raise between $150,000 and $5 million.

The problem has been widely recognized by economists and policy makers for at least 100 years, but little progress has been made to overcome the issues confronting this part of the private capital market. In its review of the problem, in 1919, the New York Times noted that larger institutions did not seem interested in providing small amounts of capital to small established firms.

Just like the current venture capital emphasis on startups and new ventures, many years ago, most investors were primarily interested in discovering very early stage companies that had great investment potential. Small companies that had been operational for several years and needed growth capital to grow were not a high priority for private investors 100 years ago.

“…More than ever before in financial history,” wrote the New York Times in 1919, “the small investor in the United States may be an important factor in financing business and building.” The Times was reporting on a news story about an idea to pool the capital of small investors into a type of “fund” that would have trustees that would direct the capital to small businesses.

Related:- The Origins of Southern Equity Crowdfunding [Part I]

They concluded their story by suggesting that a market mechanism needed to be created that allowed small companies to easily meet small investors. Citing the US Department of Labor, the article stated: “It is essential, in the opinion of the Department of Labor, to devise ways and means of availing of the small investors’ capital.”

As categorized by the global website Crowdsourcing.org, there are currently about 2500 internet websites that “avail” themselves to crowdfunding capital for small companies. The websites provide a new type of market mechanism that brings small companies together with investors, much like the suggestion made in 1919 by the New York Times.

The great majority of websites tracked by Crowdsourcing.org fall into a category for donor-based or charitable giving, like Indiegogo. In the charitable giving website model, the donor gives a gift to the company, or the social political cause, without any expectation of future return on the gift.

Another very large category of crowdfunding websites fall into the category of very early stage entrepreneurial companies. The early stage Crowdsourcing category of websites includes both the donor-based model, and the equity investment model, where the investor hopes to make large, fast capital gains from the investment.

A subcategory of equity crowdfunding websites are those that are oriented to very early stage companies, who seek to attract investments from non-accredited investors. In this model, the motivation for the websites and the investors is to provide an investment opportunity for non-accredited investors that was previously only available to venture capital firms and angel partnerships.

In other words, in the Crowdsourcing subcategory of websites that promote equity crowdfunding investments, most of the websites target very early, non-operational companies, and try to attract non-accredited investors to make investments in the entrepreneurial companies.

The diagram below is useful for describing the main categories of internet crowdfunding websites that are tracked and categorized by Crowdsourcing.org. In their use of terminology, the word “crowdsourcing” is a main category, while the word “crowdfunding” is used to describe a subset of all crowdsourcing.

Many of the early stage websites for entrepreneurial companies, both for accredited and non-accredited investors, are global in scope, and based in foreign countries. This book is not about those types of websites.

This book is about the 35 US websites that are categorized by Crowdsourcing.org as those targeting investments to operational, established companies that seek only accredited investors, under the rules established by Title II of the JOBS Act of 2012.

Ninety years after the New York Times lamented the lack of capital for small businesses, a new platform for communication developed in the private capital market. Beginning in the mid-1990s, angel capitalists created websites to match entrepreneurs and firms.

The business model of the early angel matching websites looked like the residential real estate marketing websites, where buyers can search for property in cities and regions. Like a real estate brokerage firm, the sites operated by angels were like a captive agency where buyers are directed to a closed and proprietary group of sellers who are listing with that agency.

In other words, the early angel matching websites were attempting to attract companies who would exclusively use that particular angel website to raise capital. Even back in the early days of angel matching websites, the primary target companies for the angels were very early stage companies that could hit the investment homerun.

The typical scenario for the matching sites operated by angel investor groups would include having the entrepreneur or firm submit a document for review by the angel group administer, who screened and evaluated the deal. This process of online screening was just like the process that took place in person, when the entrepreneur presented a power point presentation to the angel group or venture capital group, at an event called a venture capital forum.

Statistics compiled by the University of New Hampshire indicated that in 2007, about 1 out of 10 deals submitted to an angel group were actually funded by the angel group.

The use of the internet tended to speed up the initial review process for the firm that was trying to raise capital. The value for the firm of submitting to one angel website was that most angel sites used the same standardized format for the initial submission. After the entrepreneur prepared one document, that same template could be used over and over again because the angel matching websites all accepted the standardized document.

For example, one early matching company, AngelSoft (now called Gust), created both document template software and web portals for the same form to be submitted by the entrepreneur to many different angel groups. At one time, AngelSoft was submitting the same proposal to an angel membership list of about 500 angel and venture capital firms.

As they noted on their website, “Since 2004, Angelsoft has been building tools to help Startups and Investors communicate more effectively. Today, 446 Angel Groups and VCs, 16,735 Angel Investors, and 3,500 new entrepreneurs a month use our tools to take the first step toward building the best new companies of the 21st Century.”

In contrast to the angel matching websites, an alternative internet website model to raise capital was an open platform, like GoBig. They stated on their website that, “The Go BIG Network is an on-line marketplace that connects the startup and small business community. The company allows startup companies, funding sources, advisors, and service providers to post requests for help on-line and have those requests routed to other members of the Network who can help them.”

The more open websites, like GoBig, were early internet private capital marketplaces. The early marketplaces were like a meeting place for the three parties to a capital exchange, but generally these sites do not offer much functionality for firms and investors to conduct a transaction. As stated on their website, “members of Go BIG can either search profiles of other members and contact them or they can post a Request (like a classified ad) and let other members see what they are looking for.”

To summarize, in the evolution of crowdfunding, the early investor matching websites looked and functioned like the early dating websites, like Match.com, where potential partners could search and sort profiles.

A more full service type of angel internet marketplace, with back end website transaction functionality, was NVST.com. NVST is the grand daddy of angel matching websites, and was way ahead of its time, beginning around 1996. As they note on their website, “NVST since 1996 has been the leading platform for private investment opportunities. The complete solution for the professional investor, advisor and entrepreneur, including market intelligence, deal flow, and intermediary services.”

The most important distinction between the earlier versions and the most recent versions of crowdfunding carried over from the traditional angel or venture capital model.

In the newer internet crowdfunding strategy, the company is controlling the terms and conditions of the entire private offering of securities. In the traditional model, the company goes to the capital source, asking for capital, and the angels or VCs control the terms and conditions of the securities that they will buy from the company.

Of the one out of 10 deals initially funded in the traditional model, about three out of 10 make profits for the angels, and only one out of 10 hit the “homerun.” The traditional model focused on very early stage companies that could hit the homerun, while the newer model is based upon companies that can share revenues and growth through consistent sales revenues.

Understanding the crucial distinction at the beginning of the capital raise between the traditional route and the newer internet crowdfunding model means that the company must prepare the entire private offering prior to making a public solicitation for investors.

In the older method, now designated Reg D Rule 506(b), the company usually would go to the angels or venture capital firms, who would set the terms and conditions, and prepare all the offering documents. Under the older method, there is no reason for the company to engage in sales and marketing to find investors, if the company can find them in the venture capital community.

All securities transactions, even accredited investor private exempt transactions, are subject to the antifraud provisions of the 1933 Securities Act and the myriad of other federal securities laws.

This anti-fraud provisions are the most important reason why any public statements or press releases, under Reg D Rule 506(c) must not contain any form of misleading statement. From the very first moment of the accredited investor private offering process, the company and the CEO is responsible for false or misleading statements, whether oral or written.

Thomas Vass is a regional economist with a research interest in the relationship between regional technological innovation, regional capital markets and regional economic growth. He is the author of Predicting Technology: Identifying Future Market Opportunities and Disruptive Technologies (Wingspan Press, 2007). He is the holder of a patent on technology stock selection. (Vass 7,251,627 July 31, 2007, Method of identifying a universe of stocks for inclusion into an investment portfolio), and the manager of a subscription based equity crowdfunding website, The Private Capital Market. He graduated with a BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has a Masters of Regional Planning, also from UNC-CH. He is located in Calabash, North Carolina. View his economic articles on Social Science Research Network.

Tags: crowd-funding, crowdfunding, equity-crowdfunding, tom-vass

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In 18K Schools And Counting, Clever Confirms $10.3M Raise From Sequoia, Paul Graham, As It Looks To Build The Next Big Learning Platform

By   /  March 25, 2014  /  Tech  /  No Comments

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Clever launched out of Y Combinator in 2012 on a mission to help K-12 schools unlock student data, keep it up to date and safely share that data with developers. In other words, Clever’s technology enables schools to make student data more accessible and, in turn, help developers reduce the amount of work they have to do to build killer applications from that data and deliver it back to… Read More

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Vicarious Grabs A Huge, New $40M Growth Round To Advance Artificial Intelligence

By   /  March 22, 2014  /  Tech  /  No Comments

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Vicarious, a San Francisco-based company that developed technology to solve Captcha queries last fall, just raised a big new $40 million round from investors including Joe Lonsdale’s Formation 8, Mark Zuckerberg, Vinod Khosla and Peter Thiel. Zuckerberg invested personally while others like Dustin Moskovitz and Ashton Kutcher invested through their funds. Aydin Senkut’s Felicis… Read More

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HackerEarth Raises $500K To Help Startups Find Great Programmers

By   /  February 24, 2014  /  Tech  /  No Comments

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HackerEarth, a Bangalore-based startup that helps other startups hire programmers through technical challenges, has raised $500,000 in seed funding from Angelprime incubator.

Launched in late 2012 by former Google engineer Sachin Gupta and his IIT batch mate Vivek Prakash, HackerEarth helps India’s growth-stage startups find technical talent they so desperately need. Unlike in the Silicon Valley, where many engineers still find it more lucrative to work for a hot startup than an IBM, or even a Microsoft, Indian startups have to fight perception battles and work harder to attract engineers who mostly prefer to work with more stable, bigger tech companies.

HackerEarth is like a GItHub, except that it’s not only about the Open Source projects.

“For developers, LinkedIn profiles does not matter as much as a platform where they can showcase their work, and GitHub is mostly about Open Source projects,” Gupta told TechCrunch.

Recently, one of the fastest growing Indian startups, InMobi, was looking to hire a Python and Ruby programmer urgently. HackerEarth helped it find one programmer in Taiwan. The startup now wants to tap into Eastern Europe and other Asian markets. 

“Back in 2008, Java was hot around here. But now, many newer startups are looking to hire programmers who know Ruby, Python and even HTML in Javascript for front-end applications,” said Gupta.

With almost three million engineers currently employed in India’s over $100 billion technology sector, around one million software coders and programmers are added every year. Clearly, the supply is not the challenge, at least not for the country’s biggest software outsourcing powerhouses such as Infosys and TCS who still hire thousands of engineers and non-engineers every year to perform commoditized application development.

And it’s not just the startups looking to hire programmers who are not just Java developers. Many bigger companies scrambling to get high-paying software projects from WalMart and Citi are beginning to hunt for such talent.

Startups such as Practo, which develops online clinic management software, find it even more tough to hire programmers they really want.

“Finding a good developer is like looking for a needle in a haystack”, Sri Karthik Sayana, hiring manager at Practo said in a statement. “By using HackerEarth, we have experienced greater than 80% fit between the candidates identified by the platform and the ones we offered a role at our company”.

As we wrote in April last year, HackerEarth is able to help startups do real-time evaluation through its online engine.

HackerEarth competes with YC alum InterviewStreet, apart from several others in the recruitment space. But the startup says its obsessive focus on finding the right technical talent is a differentiator.

“We will be spending more on sales and big data matching engine,” said Gupta. HackerEarth was part of the GSF Accelerator’s first batch. GSF SuperAngels has also participated in the latest funding round.

Unlike traditional recruiters, the startup evaluates programmers on some of the very basic parameters including the computing memory footprint and quality of code. All this is achieved by holding programming challenges. In one such recent challenge, HackerEarth heaped InMobi hire around half a dozen programmers in one day, a process that could have taken at least a week.

With the latest seed round, HackerEarth joins a small, but growing alumni of startups incubated by Angelprime. Backed by Mayfield, Jerry Yang and Chamath Palihapitiya’s Social+Capital Partnership among several Silicon Valley investors, Angelprime was launched in June 2011.

As I wrote recently, India’s accelerator ecosystem is facing some harsh realities, and many of them are beginning to work with late-stage startups without Y Combinator-like batches. For its part, Angelprime has always been focused on investing in fewer, but focused startups that have the potential to scale and become $10 million companies in three years. Since it was launched three years ago, Angelprime has incubated four companies — ZipDial, Ezetap, SmartOwner, and now HackerEarth.

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Navigator Campus Hopes To Put Russian Hardware Startups On The Map

By   /  February 21, 2014  /  Business  /  No Comments

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With hardware suddenly all the rage, accelerators devoted entirely to the genre are popping up all over the place. And that includes the far-flung regions of Russia.

The Navigator Campus will be the first private hardware technology park in Russia’s Kazan region. If you’re unsure where that is, well, it’s at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka Rivers in European Russia. Ok, nevermind. Suffice to say that the Navigator project will focus on consumer robotics, 3D-printing, smart electronics for “smart home” systems and wearables. And we are talking hard-core Russian tech expertise here.

Navigator is launching with $4 million in backing by founders Ramil Ibragimov (Runa Capital) and Vasil Zakyev (shtrafy-gibdd.ru, Ohmymentor.ru). It may not sound like much, but you can do quite a lot with $4 million in Russia. And they are not stopping there. The GRAVIZapp angel fund, specializing in hardware startups, will co-locate there. And they plan to build a network of hardware hackspaces and accelerators in the region, hoping to raise that funding to top $30 million spread across the region. Thus, neighboring cities like Ufa and Perm will get their own Navigator spaces.

Serguei Beloussov, Runa Capital senior partner and Acronis CEO, believes that access to scientific and business experts, VC mentors and hardware industry players like Dell, Samsung, IBM, Cisco, Intel and Foxconn will mean “we will soon see more venture-backed hardware deals in Russia.”

Some 93 out of 120 spots have already been taken by startups, covering various fields including 3D printing, robots, healthcare hardware, and consumer electronics.

A few hardware projects located there have already raised early money:

• iBlazr – a crowdfunding startup from Kiev (with $150K+ raised on Kickstarter previously) is building a ‘smart’ LED-flashlight for smartphones and tablets.
• Krisaf – robotized gym equipment for accelerated rehabilitation of children with cerebral palsy.
• ENNOVA – a startup manufacturing NOVA 3D printers.

“Our ambitious aim for the next 5-10 years is to launch this kind of projects in each and every Russian city with up to 1 million citizens in order to create a powerful hardware-community based on the Russian engineering history,” says Ibragimov, of Navigator.

It sounds like they might just do it. The Russians are coming…

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Strevus Raises $6.5 Million For Financial Compliance Software

By   /  February 20, 2014  /  Tech  /  No Comments

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With new compliance requirements looming for already jumpy banks, startup software developer Strevus has raised $6.5 million for its risk and compliance service.

The company raised its first institutional round from lead investor Blumberg Capital and U.S. Venture Partners after picking up seed investments from a who’s who of the technology community, including BlackBerry CEO John ChenKen Goldman, the Yahoo CFO; and former Oracle COO Terry Garnett.

“The world has changed quite a bit with the financial service meltdown, and regulatory compliance is the resulting fact in today’s world,” said Strevus Chief Executive Ken Hoang in an interview.

Think of Strevus as a monitored and managed networking tool to ensure compliance with new regulations for financial services firms that are going to start taking effect this year.

“Compliance is not a competitive advantage today. The government is picking off [financial services firms] institution by institution,” Hoang said.

The first market that Stevrus is looking to address within the alphabet soup of new and updated compliance requirements being issued by the federal government is the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.

FATCA targets tax evaders in the U.S. who aren’t properly reporting overseas financial accounts, and foreign financial institutions who bank for U.S. taxpayers or foreign entities in which U.S. taxpayers hold a majority stake, according to the IRS’s website.

San Francisco-based Strevus is currently working with a handful of banks on its managed platform, which operates as a networking tool and an industry Rolodex — as well as a compliance offering. “It’s similar to Box with a LinkedIn functionality,” said Hoang. “We’re enabling customers to reach out to others and bring their data in.”

Strevus will sell its service to both buy-side and sell-side firms. On the buy side, the company is targeting banks and financial services firms with assets ranging from $250 million to $1 billion. On the sell side the customer base is the top 20 banks, said Hoang.

A subscription to the Strevus service costs a sell-side customer between $100,000 and $200,000, according to Hoang.

Photo via Flickr user Bloomsberries.

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Varsity News Network Closes $3M Series A To Expand Its High School Athletic Platform Nationwide

By   /  February 17, 2014  /  Tech  /  No Comments

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High school sports is big business, but few schools can afford to support a robust athletic website with complete player stats, dynamic schedules and rich media. That’s where Varsity News Network comes in. VNN is today announcing an additional $3 million in funding to scale nationwide and launch its first app.

The Series A was led by Arsenal Venture Partners, with participation including, but not limited to, North Coast Technology Ventures, RSL Venture Partners, Start Garden, Grand Angels, Northern Michigan Angels, First Step Fund, Muskegon Angels and the Michigan Angel Fund.

Started just over two years ago, the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based company boasts 250 schools in 14 states currently using the VNN platform.

Essentially, VNN provides turnkey websites for high school athletic departments that work alongside existing programs and pulls in media from social channels. The result is a professional-looking website that is rich in data that most schools can afford and easily manage. Moreover, while local media often covers high school sports, they tend to focus on superstars. VNN gives all players an opportunity for fame.

The resulting website doesn’t seem like much more than a simple WordPress theme, but the schools are apparently loving it. The company’s current customer counts were acquired on just $552K from the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund and a partial close of $1.09 million last February. The new round of financing will go towards scaling operations to get more schools signed up.

“In just over two years we’ve grown the VNN platform to include more than 250 schools in 14 states, supporting hundreds of thousands of students and their families,” said Ryan Vaughn, co- founder and CEO of VNN, in a released statement today. “With this capital, we are poised to grow even faster and reach the 40 million students and family members who are left out of traditional sports media coverage.”

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Alternate Options to Raising Venture Capital: Alternate Funding Round Table

By   /  February 17, 2014  /  Business  /  No Comments

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CrowdFunding: Alternate Options to Raising Venture Capital on Silicon Valley Smart Money
with Sydney Armani , Danae Ringelmann , Robert Mitchel Nancy Hayes

Tags: indiegogo-crowdfundbeat-crowdfunding

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