2015 LGBT Pride celebrations are just around the corner. For some people, this is the most important celebration of the year. For others it is just another chance to celebrate freedom and love and how far we have come from the days of living shackled by preconceptions and strict norms. It's 2015, and freedom and love should be celebrated.
We believe these principals apply to everybody and everything, from choosing who to love to choosing what to do with your money. Money is perhaps the most intimate, personal entity around. Thus, it is also an important arena of personal choice and expression. It's your money. You earned it. Nobody should be able to tell you the 'right' and 'wrong' way to spend, invest or donate it. You can take your paycheck to Vegas or cash it and hide the bills under a floorboard. It's your damn money. Or is it?
Historically there have been a lot of limitations on what we do with our money. This year we can celebrate a lot of important progress in investing freedom with the JOBS Act and publishing of Regulation A+ rules.
The JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) Act, is one of President Obama's most ambitious economic initiatives. The law intends to encourage funding of small businesses by easing some of the strict SEC regulations. The JOBS Act essentially created a new class of investments commonly know as equity crowdfunding. This term refers to the raising of investment funds via online platforms from a wide pool of unrelated investors. Think of it as Kickstart, but instead of a product you get shares in the company. Equity Crowdfunding has opened up a new flow of cash to early stage ventures, without having to go to traditional venture capital firms.
So far, the JOBS Act has allowed high net worth individuals, called 'accredited investors' to invest in equity crowdfunding companies. The typical investment is usually $5-10K. So while this is a HUGE step forward from previous restrictions, there is still a ways to come. The good news is, its coming...
In the very near future the SEC is expected to finalise publication of the Regulation A+ rules and finally free every last one of us, no matter how much mula we have in the bank, to invest as we please in early stage companies. Most people are a little confused when I explain that up until now they have not had the right, but its OK, soon you will be free to invest in whatever your heart desires. The government will only interfere to limit the amount you invest to no more than 10% of your total net worth. After all, the SEC exists to try to prevent innocent, hard-working people from losing their shirts on risky investments.
As we stand at the dawn of this new age of investing freedom, it is equal parts exciting and terrifying. As big brother starts to back off we feel for the first time the cool, brisk breeze of freedom blowing up our skirts. A wind of change and new possibilities. But we would be foolish to underestimate the risks involved. These are very early stage companies. Most of them haven't even gotten off the ground, much less begun generating any reliable revenues. So the duplicity of high-risk and high-reward, once the walled domain of investment bankers and venture capitalists, is now opening its doors, just a crack, to the rest of us.
We may strike it rich. We may lose the farm. But at least, we will have the freedom to make our own daring investment decisions. What you do with your money is your business. Be free. Be exhilarated. Be responsible.
Do you think you're ready to put some real skin in the equity crowdfunding game?