After launching SeedInvest in 2012, a leading equity crowdfunding platform, it’s founder, Ryan Feit, is now bringing LIVE crowdfunding to Europe. After successfully testing the concept at the LAUNCH Festival in the US, Ryan and his team will be hoping to replicate this success at LendIt Europe. We spoke to Ryan to learn more about SeedInvest and LIVE Crowdfunding.
What’s your background? And, what led you to form SeedInvest?
My Co-Founder James and I both started in Investment Banking and then proceeded to join billion dollar Private Equity funds as investors. We both decided to leave our private equity firms to pursue something more entrepreneurial and went back to business school to search for an idea. Back at school, we became active members of Wharton’s entrepreneurial community and quickly noticed how broken the startup fundraising process was for founders all around us. During our second year at Wharton, we learned about a grassroots movement to change 80-year-old US Securities Laws to enable startups to raise capital through the Internet for the first time, and quickly got very involved. Over the course of the next 6-9 months we were able to help successfully get the 2012 JOBS Act signed into law opening the door for SeedInvest to launch.
Can you give us a quick overview of what SeedInvest is, and what type of companies can benefit from using the platform?
SeedInvest is a leading equity crowdfunding platform that provides individual investors with access to pre-vetted startup investment opportunities. SeedInvest has funded over 150 startups and boasts a rapidly growing network of over 190,000 investors. SeedInvest has had over 15,000 startups apply to raise capital since inception and has only accepted 1% of those companies to feature on the platform. SeedInvest works with startups that are raising rounds as small as $500k all the way up to growth rounds of $30 million.
With avenues to funding coming from a variety of sources nowadays, how do you see the current investment landscape for early stage companies?
Fundraising for startups is an incredibly time consuming, distracting and generally awful process. Fortunately, as a result of the JOBS Act, startups now have more options for raising capital then even before. The emergence of online fundraising is still in its infancy but over the ensuing few years it will continue to become incredibly helpful for entrepreneurs.
On the investor side, the market has gotten much more crowded at the Series B and later stages over the past 5 years. Traditional funds have moved upmarket while corporate venture funds, hedge funds and mutual funds have entered venture investing. We haven’t had the same challenges at the Seed and Series A stages which is good for early-stage investors.
We understand you’re about to undertake Europe’s first Live crowdfunding, can you tell us more about this? Is this something you see happening on a regular basis?
Historically startups had to raise capital privately and only from the very wealthiest individuals. That’s now changed, enabling startups to raise capital publicly and to enable anyone to invest in them. LIVE Fundraising is all about leveraging these changes to enable startups to raise capital more efficiently and from more people. Startups have been pitching at events for years so why not enable them to raise capital simultaneously now that it’s finally legal?
We tested the concept of LIVE Fundraising out a few months ago at in partnership with Jason Calacanis at LAUNCH Festival in the US, and it was hugely successful with the participating startups raising a whopping $7.5 million from 3,900 investors on SeedInvest. We wanted to replicate this success in partnership with the very best global conferences so given that LendIt Europe is the largest European event for fintech and lending, it was an obvious fit for us. This is definitely something we plan to continue on a regular basis.
What does the future hold for SeedInvest?
Our goal is to fund 1,000 startups and facilitate $1 billion of investments per year in five years. In ten years, our vision is to shift 5% of household savings out of traditional investments such as stocks and bonds and into alternative assets.
LendIt Europe, the world’s largest event series dedicated to the fintech and lending community, is partnering with SeedInvest, the leading equity crowdfunding platform to enable live investments by directly connecting PitchIt finalists with delegates at the event. Ryan Feit, CEO of SeedInvest, will present the launch of this unique partnership at LendIt Europe: London, 9th-10th Oct ’17.”