|Tyler Gray (COO)|
MicroVentures is an equity crowdfunding website offering investments in early stage companies. MicroVentures connects accredited investors with startups, businesses and services looking to raise funds or participate in select secondary market opportunities. It is the only major equity crowdfunding site that is a broker-dealer registered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the first to take a portfolio company to a successful exit. As of October 2013, MicroVentures had raised $20 million, spread among 45 companies including Twitter, Facebook, and Yelp (before they reached the public markets).
MicroVentures was founded by Bill Clark in Austin, Texas in 2009. Prior to starting MicroVentures, Clark worked as a credit-risk manager with GMAC Inc., PayPal, and Dell Financial Services (DFS). Clark decided to found the company after witnessing the contraction in small-business credit opportunities following the 2008 financial crisis. MicroVentures completed FINRA's application process in 2010.
In August 2012, Tim Sullivan, then president of SharesPost, an online marketplace for trading shares of private companies, joined MicroVentures as its CEO to help scale the company. Under Sullivan, deal volume rose to over $1 million per month by January 2013, and by September 2013 MicroVentures had doubled in size and completed a successful round of fundraising on its own platform.
In March 2013, MicroVentures worked with the LAUNCH Festival to develop the first mobile crowdfunding app that would allow investors to show their interest in backing entrepreneurs at fundraising events. The company plans to eventually offer real time investing in startups through mobile.
In February 2015, MicroVentures introduced a 500 Startups Fund while announcing 25,000 global investors who have deployed over $60 million to approximately 100 companies by way of the MicroVentures platform.
Company listing & due diligence
MicroVentures funds startups from different industries including technology, consumer products and services, healthcare, media and entertainment, and telecommunications. MicroVentures looks at prospective early stage companies using a variety of success criteria – such as suitable risk, likelihood of profitability, and other key due diligence factors. MicroVentures accepts less than 0.5% of companies who apply for listing on the platform. If a company is selected for listing, MicroVentures then posts the results of their due diligence for investors to review. The average company listed on MicroVentures raises $250,000; outliers have raised over $1 million. Microventures takes a 10% fee (5% from the issuer and 5% from investors) from each successful raise plus 10% carry. If the full amount of an offering is not raised, then all investor money is returned.
MicroVentures accepts both accredited investors and sophisticated non-accredited investors on its platform. MicroVentures speaks to every investor who signs up by phone to determine that they are accredited investors or meet suitability requirements. MicroVentures counts more than 10,000 accredited investors on the platform, including a "meaningful number" of international investors. The typical minimum investment is $5,000.
MicroVentures completed funding of its first three companies in April 2011, raising a total of $150,000. The first project was Republic Project, a cloud based platform to help advertisers manage digital-media campaigns. In October 2013, Republic Project sold to Digital Generation for a total of $14.5 million. The sale represented the first liquidity event, or "exit," for investors in an equity crowdfunded company.
In November 2011, MicroVentures raised $100,000 for private shares of Yelp at a price of $6 to $7 a share.
Beginning in February 2012 and continuing through shortly before the company's IPO, MicroVentures offered shares of Twitter on its platform. The company saw demand in excess of 300 times the number of shares available.
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