North Carolina may get Investment Crowdfunding Soon

As a side-effect of working in a crowdfunding startup, I get to connect with cool folks doing cool stuff.

Right now we have a small team working to bring Investment Crowdfunding to North Carolina — well ahead of the JOBS Act (Title III) and to be frank, more effectively in several ways than the Federal JOBS Act.

The best part? You can make a difference. State legislation moves more quickly than Federal; we have approximately 30 days to rally support for this new mechanism for small business and startup funding… tell everyone you know about this, and let’s flood the legislature’s office with calls and emails of support.

We want Investment Crowdfunding here in North Carolina — and you can help make it so. Here’s a handy page to find your legislator’s email address.

More info at the JOBS-NC blog now and to come:


Memo from my teammate Mark Easley below.


New North Carolina Crowdfunding Legislation

A bill has just been introduced into the North Carolina state house legislature which will enable a new way to finance small business using investment crowdfunding. Start-up companies and small businesses play a critical role in creating new jobs and growing the economy. Crowdfunding, or raising money through small contributions from a large number of investors, allows smaller enterprises in North Carolina to have access to the capital they need to initiate new business ventures as well as to expand operations and hire additional staff.

Details about the North Carolina Jump-Start Our Business Start-ups Act (JOBS Act) can be found on theNorth Carolina JOBS Act of 2013 Blog. The bill is sponsored by Representatives Tom Murry, Tim D. Moffit, Phil Shepard, and Kelley E. Hastings. We will be providing news and updates via the blog, so we encourage everyone who is interested to sign up for email updates there.

Our first expert review is in, and the North Carolina approach to investment crowdfunding has been called “Brilliant!” and “worthy of support” by prominent national crowdfunding and legal expert William Carleton. His post about the bill is called “5 Ways a North Carolina Bill puts the Crowd back in Crowdfunding

We would greatly appreciate your support for this bill. It would be very helpful if you could publish the link to the blog, send it out by email and tweets (#jobsnc), or create blog posts about it. We want to get the word out to the entire start-up and small business community in North Carolina as soon as possible as this legislation moves forward. Please send me any links to your posts about it.

If you have any questions or comments, you can email me at , or contact Representative Murry’s office at Thank you for your consideration and support.

Best regards,

Mark Easley Sr.
Morrisville NC

TSL Crowdfunding Conference


Great trip so far… mixing it up with the key players in the Crowdfunding space.

Yesterday was our first in person CfPA meeting; I’m now on the executive committee of CfPA and we’re making good progress already in supporting this emerging industry.

Exciting times!

Promoboxx going to the Super Bowl!

I know this is a irrational, but I feel a tiny bit like a proud parent here.

One of the companies that I am lucky enough to be involved with will be in a Chevy ad at the Super Bowl this year! They’ve got a great product, and something like this is a huge step towards raising awareness of what they’re bringing to the world of marketing…

Very proud of what Ben and the team at Promoboxx are doing. Keep an eye out for them, for sure — and please send them a “kudos” tweet, eh?

I’m engaged with 5 companies right now as an investor. All have been great experiences, although some of them are killing it more than others. I’m consistently impressed with what Promooxx has done — they’re doing a fantastic job of developing relationships with the right people, improving the product, keeping investors and advisors involved, and delivering solid value to customers. They’re getting a lot of the little subtle things just right, which gives them an enormous edge over anyone thinking of jumping into the same space.

In the end there are only 2 things that really matter: the quality of the product and the experience of the customer. Promoboxx gets this.


We Live in a Different World

(Entrepreneurs, that is.)

Short thought…

I went on a hike today (Heil Valley Ranch, pic below) with a serial entrepreneur, startup guru, and wicked smart guy.

As we were talking about his past and current ventures, he idly mentioned his “next multi-million dollar company”, the way you might talk about the next pair of jeans you intend to buy.

He was serious, he wasn’t bragging, and I have no doubt that he is correct.

Most people can’t fathom starting a company; even something easy like a “I’ll cut your lawn for $20” small business. But the world looks different to entrepreneurs… there are opportunities everywhere, and when you “think different” about this, creating million dollar (or larger) ventures seems not only technically possible, but absolutely achievable. Almost inevitable.

hull valley
This photo doesn't nearly do it justice. Beautiful out there.



(Also think-worthy; for folks like him money and power are not a draw at all… he just feels compelled to create. I can relate.)

Open Angel Forum Philly 2

OAF philly logoFor any entrepreneurs on the east coast who are looking for funding, mark Sept 20 on your calendars — Open Angel Forum Philly is coming back for round 2. You must apply to present by Aug 26; and you don’t need to be associated with Philly to attend.

(They’re also in need of a few sponsors for the event… see the blog post linked above for more.)


It’s great to see more and more events that bring entrepreneurs and investors together without charging an entry fee. “Pay to pitch” is not a necessary part of our ecosystem.

Thanks to Gabriel Weinberg and Antonio Tedesco for organizing this event and good luck to all involved.

Naval: ‘The Anatomy of a Fundable Startup’ [Video]

If you haven’t watched this video yet (~40 minutes), you really should. Required viewing for anyone getting into the game on either side of the table… No BS, very practical advice from someone who has been around.

Naval: The Anatomy of a Fundable Startup

Slides from this talk are online as well.

If you can’t spare 40 minutes (it’s worth it, though), check out ~27:00 when he goes over some “hacks” and then summarizes his steps to securing funding.







My First Angel Investment Isn’t (an Investment)

SparkRelief logoI recently met with the founders of Sparkrelief, a Boulder-based non-profit doing some amazing work to help those affected by disasters.

They have built a peer-to-peer website that allows those that still have (housing, food, etc) to reach out to those that just lost due to a fire, flood, etc. This approach leverages charity dollars enormously — a small amount of money can help many more people than a traditional effort of buying and delivering trailers, food, etc.

The team has lofty ambitions for fundamentally improving disaster aid and beyond; and I believe they have the talent and the passion to pull it off.

As with so many ventures, they face a short-term cash problem.

If this was a for-profit company I would definitely participate as a seed investor — Eli is the epitome of the “sponge and stone” founder ethos (5th paragraph on that page; Gregory Gomer does a great job summarizing the concept) and the team is building a network of advisors and partners that should take care of the long-term finances.

So why did I get involved, even though there was no profit potential? After all, investing in risky startups is one thing, but giving it all away — while it could help some people and would feel good in the short-term — is just not a sustainable way to make the kind of big impact I aspire to. But then I thought about my reasons for getting involved in angel investing:

  1. Help start companies, especially those that improve the world
  2. Engage with great entrepreneurs — inspires me to do more
  3. Have a positive impact on Boulder and eventually the world
  4. Make enough money to continue funding companies and having a positive impact on the world
  5. Continue to learn, and share what I know
  6. Have fun!

After thinking about that, helping Sparkrelief with some short-term financing just felt like the right thing to do. I won’t make any money on this one, but I get to help some great people do amazing things. I’ll learn by watching these guys, and who knows — I may just find the next great opportunity while hanging out with Eli, Marshall, and the team.

If you happen to have some cash that you are considering donating to a great cause, I urge you to take a look at what Sparkrelief is doing.


(As an aside; I have been meaning to post some notes from Angel Bootcamp, but have just not found time. Jason Evanish did a good job with a 10,000 foot summary of the event… perhaps I’ll write up some other thoughts from the event next week.)

Early Exits Videos – Part 3

Basil Peters of AngelBlog has an interesting series of 3 videos describing how Angel Investing and traditional VC investing work together (or more to the point, don’t work well together) in the 21st Century. Very interesting stuff, in my opinion.

Below are some notes I made from the third video:

  • The media generally only talks about the big exits, but those are exceedingly rare. Focusing on these actually does a disservice.
  • However there are a very large numbers of smaller exits:
    • $20M (or more likely $15M) median purchase price
    • Companies can buy $20M companies without blinking!
    • A $100M purchase, though, needs board approval
  • Why these small purchases? Because companies are terrible at building a business from 0 to $20M. they are very good at building a company from $20M to $200M, however.
  • They are often more interested in buying proven ideas/tech than in doing their own exploratory R&D. (Shareholders like this approach too.)
  • Lots of examples of well known companies exiting in this range, including:
    • Adscape (now adsense): $23M
    • Blogger: $20M (rumored)
    • Picasa: $5M
    • LiveJournal: $25M
    • Writely: $10M


Purchases by Google, Yahoo, etc in recent years
  • Many big companies currently have cash burning hole in pockets. Billions! See image below (as of 2010):

Some sample big company war-chests as of 2010

  • Big Companies often now consider VC firms as competitors!
    • company has the cash
    • VC doesn’t add enough value, in company’s mind
    • VCs hold on for huge exits
    • Big company would rather buy the startup *before* the VC gets their hands on it!
  • Google: 90%+ of our transactions are small… <20 people, <$20M. Pre-revenue even.
  • How early can you sell? As soon as you can *prove the business model*
  • In today’s tech world, most exits in 2-3 years. Most entrepreneurs wait too long to start the exit process.

Graph showing when to sell for optimum value. Many sell too late.