The last decade saw an increasing number of new companies make a difference in the nascent unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) industry. Startups launched new hardware products, new software and new services. All were associated with the commercial uses of small UAV’s and some became mainstream in record time.
One issue that all these companies had in common when they embarked in the development of a new technology was funding. Capital to start a new venture in a new industry is not easy to come by, and if you add the sheer number of new ideas and innovations sprouting at the same time, the competition for available money can become fierce.
In 2012, President Obama signed into law the Small Company Capital Formation Act or JOBS Act (Jumpstart Our Business Startups), which passed both houses of congress with bipartisan support.
The JOBS Act, in principle, democratized capital for small companies and opened the door for the concept of crowdfunding. In the beginning, small companies were allowed to raise up to $50 million in funding through the platform under Reg A+ (regulation A Plus). There were significant barriers to entry under this rule from a time and cost standpoint, which didn’t make it accessible for most early stage companies. However, after Reg CF (regulation crowdfunding) came into effect in May 2016, the door opened widely for small businesses to get access to capital.
Howard Marks, a Los Angeles investor, saw an opportunity with the JOBS Act to create an online platform to allow small companies to access capital through the mechanisms established within the act, and as a result, StartEngine was born.
StartEngine began equity crowdfunding for small businesses as soon as the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) enacted Title IV of the JOBS Act in June 2015, which allowed everyday people from the US and around the world to invest in small US businesses through public crowdfunding campaigns. So far, StartEngine has raised over $150 million for a variety of small companies from investors in the USA and around the world.
Recently, they helped Parallel Flight Technologies raise the limit of $1.069 million (under REG CF) in a little over six weeks from over 1,500 different investors.
We reached out to Josh Amster, StartEngine’s VP of Sales & Business Development, to find out more about how their platform can help entrepreneurs raise the necessary capital to launch their ideas.
“We have established a platform that allows small business owners to raise the necessary capital to launch their ideas,” Josh said enthusiastically. “The process involves legal, financial and content work in order to launch a campaign. Our team works directly with entrepreneurs to help them navigate the different hurdles of the process. This allows them to launch in a matter of weeks.”
Given the large number of new startups entering the drone market at any given time, we pressed Josh on the basic qualifications that, in his opinion, a new venture will require to be successful in raising capital through his platform.
“We highly recommend our customers to have a compelling story, a clear differentiator with their competition, and to hopefully bring a bit of traction to the table,” he said. “Companies that understand who their audience is, and who have spent the time analyzing their markets thoroughly, have an advantage because they bring tangible progress to the table and that allows StartEngine to connect them with the right people willing to invest in their ideas.”
Taken into account that many companies have ideas that won’t be successful we asked Josh about the possibility of rejection.
“Yes, we have declined to engage with certain startups which we believe were not a fit at that time to raise capital from the public, but to tell you the truth, it’s a minority,” he said emphatically. “If you have an idea and you have a team in place and a story to tell, come to the platform and see what we have to offer. You might be surprised at what our tools can do for your success.”
As opposed to waiting for angel investors or venture capitalists to show interest, crowdsourcing is a viable option for startups to raise the capital needed to develop their technologies.
If you are interested in learning more, you can reach out to StartEngine at www.startengine.com/raise-capital to explore the possibility of raising capital by accessing many investors throughout the world.