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Paul
05-06-2013, 02:32 AM
Hi,

I am in a position to launch a crowdfunding site in anticipation of some new SEC regulations that will be implemented. These new rules will allow equity sales.

I have been a business consultant and entrepreneur for many years and have everything in place including an SEC lawyer (partner), SEC auditor, transfer agent, market makers, dealer brokers and all other components necessary to comply with the new regulations and to help companies raise capital and potentially “go public”. This team has been involved with many successful funding campaigns implemented the “old fashion” way under current regulations.

I also have in place some initial projects ready to be “crowdfunded”.

I am now researching crowdfunding website platforms. There are a number of white label platforms, but to be honest I am not particularly tech savvy and I don’t know what I’m talking about from a technical point of view.

These pre-designed formats seem fine, but I need someone that could work on the technical end, both installing and maintaining, and someone who is familiar with some basic social media/internet marketing.

I realize there are many ‘tech” and "marketing" people and companies available but I thought I would ask for some guidance on here because, again, I don’t know what I’m talking about in that world and that means I don’t know what they’re talking about either!

Any guidance or suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Paul

Jim Briggs
05-06-2013, 04:24 AM
Sounds like you're looking for at least two roles: an architect to help you evaluate and decide and an engineer/developer to install/maintain/customize/program. They're two different skill sets and rates. If you haven't already engaged an architect, then you'll want to first because if you're not technical, then you won't know if you're buying what you think you're buying and whether the software will meet your quality, security, and scalability requirements.

Harold Mansfield
05-06-2013, 11:22 PM
I am now researching crowdfunding website platforms. There are a number of white label platforms, but to be honest I am not particularly tech savvy and I don’t know what I’m talking about from a technical point of view.

These pre-designed formats seem fine, but I need someone that could work on the technical end, both installing and maintaining, and someone who is familiar with some basic social media/internet marketing.

I realize there are many ‘tech” and "marketing" people and companies available but I thought I would ask for some guidance on here because, again, I don’t know what I’m talking about in that world and that means I don’t know what they’re talking about either!

Any guidance or suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Paul


Can you link to some of those pre-designed formats? I'd love to take a look at them and it will give us some place to start in order to offer any advice.

Paul
05-07-2013, 02:08 AM
Thanks for the responses.

I’ve listed here a few of the crowdfunding/kickstarter clone platforms that I’ve looked at. The first one (whitelabel) seems to be the one that may be most suitable because it looks like they manage the site.

There are a few others, some build custom sites, others offer template sites for as little as $ 30. I realize they are all basically ecommerce sites.
Our main concern is reasonable reliability. Initially it will be a test site for us and doesn’t need to be the “best”. But it does need to be manageable. For now it will be used in accordance with current restrictions but we want to learn and be in position to convert.

Any guidance is appreciated.

White Label Crowdfunding, Fundraising Software For WordPress (http://crowdfundingsite.net/)
Get Your Fundnation! - FundNation - Kickstarter Clone - Crowdfunding Script - Crowd Funding Software (http://uniprogy.com/fundnation/buy)
Enterprise Level Scalability | Invested.in (http://invested.in/platform/built-to-scale)
Kickstarterclone.net - Start your own Crowdfunding website for only $30 (http://kickstarterclone.net/demo/index.php)
Crowdhoster (http://www.crowdhoster.com/)

Thanks for taking a look at these.
Paul

Harold Mansfield
05-07-2013, 01:12 PM
Thanks for posting the links.

Let me start off by saying that, I've watched the bandwagon effect for a few years now. Every time a website gets some positive press or gets popular, a million cloning ideas come out of the woodwork by people trying to capitalize on the fad with some niche spin off. People did it with Social Bookmarking sites like Digg. News aggregators. There were Facebook, My Space, Twitter, Linked In, Pinterest, Craig's List, Groupon, and Angie's List clones. And on and on.

I'd think long and hard about whether or not you are falling into the same trap of trying to recreate someone elses success by merely adding something arbitrary to something that already exists, or are improving on the model in a significant way or targeting a market that is left out of the current application. And can create and keep a competitive edge.

I'd also be honest about what you hope to accomplish. You probably already know that you won't get something like Kickstarter (who started with $10 million funding) , on a limited design and programming budget. Not to mention the full time staff and marketing that they've put into growing the brand.

That being said, I do think the platform can be very helpful on a smaller scale. Say community groups, schools, non profits, local chambers and so on that are trying to fund projects like class trips, purchasing supplies and things like that. Maybe even for business start ups. Maybe.

So, IMO, if you are going to do this..unless you plan on keeping a full time webmaster on staff to run it, I suggest using one of the WordPress clones (and not just because I love and work with WordPress). It's going to be easier for you to learn how to manage, and you can probably have someone build it for you just like any other website.

Some of the others look promising. But again, I've seen this movie before. Clones come out of the woodwork when something is hot, and then a year later you are stuck with a piece of proprietary software that is unsupported because the company has gone out of business.

At least with WordPress, you know the platform itself isn't going anywhere and even if the clone designer goes out of business, it can still be maintained for the most part, and continue running into the future.

Paul
05-07-2013, 04:56 PM
Thank you,

We are definitely not trying to match, or even compete, with Kickstarter.

We are not actually starting a business; we already do all the equity SEC services. We just see an opportunity to enhance our business once the crowdfunding changes over to equity.

We realize we will need dedicated tech personnel. For now I’m just trying to gather some basic info and launch a “beta” site for a few clients. We do need to have some form of operating site to be able to register with SEC.

So, from what you said, it sounds like a wordpress based template is the best for me to mess around with for now. I want to become familiar with some of the basics before engaging tech people so I can at least explain what we want in terms of features.

Thank you for your comments and suggestions,
Paul

Harold Mansfield
05-07-2013, 05:09 PM
So, from what you said, it sounds like a wordpress based template is the best for me to mess around with for now. I want to become familiar with some of the basics before engaging tech people so I can at least explain what we want in terms of features.

Thank you for your comments and suggestions,
Paul
Yes, but I make that recommendation without knowing any other details about your functionality needs. If you just want a functional clone to get started with, then yes.
But if there are other features that you are looking for and haven't mentioned here, you may want to mention them and my recommendation could be completely different.

Paul
05-08-2013, 12:15 AM
Yes, a functional clone is probably suitable at this time. Clients will need to be able to upload their project info, along with pictures and video. It will need to be able to accept donations via credit cards and have the basic “backside” functions of keeping track of donations.

Some of the things I have to learn are managing the backside operations, working with a credit card processor and other related issues. This initial setup is just a strategic step to establish a functioning web site, domain name etc. Initial use will be very light with just a handful of projects posted. This first stage is not likely to be profitable.

However, once the new regulations are enacted we will have to comply with an assortment of SEC legal requirements. That is when we will need sophisticated features and a robust platform. At that time we expect there may be quite a few control features required to comply with the regulations. We do not know yet what those requirements will be, but they will be serious and will have to be foolproof.

It may require an automated tie in to a bookkeeping system (quickbooks perhaps). A guess at some other requirements is a “capping” function that limits individual donations/investments and total capital raised per company/client. It may also have to be able to archive legal documents for each company and investor and may be subject to SEC monitoring that may entail being connected to some form of master oversite/regulatory data base. It will probably also need a ‘signin/signout” feature to monitor visitors.

As you can see it doesn't make too much sense to go full blown until we actually know all of the functions we will need.

So, the basic business strategy here is simply to be positioned and ready, and for me to have some basic knowledge to be able to work with a web developer/web master.

Thanks,
Paul

Harold Mansfield
05-08-2013, 10:26 AM
Sounds like you basically need a placeholder for now to get some preliminary marketing going. WordPress will be just fine for that and you'll learn a little.

Going forward once you know what you need, you'll then have to choose the best tool based on what the job will be then. It is very possible that you'll be able to stay with WordPress all the way.

Some of the things that you've named aren't that sophisticated. Setting up an SSL, Capping funding amounts, Archive of legal docs, Credit Card processor, Client Log in and so on, but others may be once you find out what they are.

Paul
05-18-2013, 02:15 AM
Thanks for the feedback.

I am going with the basic white label wordpress for now.
I'll try to do a couple of local charitable deals to learn a little. I've also spoken to a company that has built a much more sophisticated model for the "equity" crowdfunding when it is finally approved. They manage the entire site so that will work out.

Thanks,
Paul

Jim Briggs
05-18-2013, 03:12 AM
What kind of crowdfunding segment are you pursuing, Paul? How would you recommend that I learn more about crowdfunding opportunities? I've developed a collaborative business startup platform (liveplan meets launchpadcentral) that could potentially be extended to support crowdfunding. It's probably not a good fit, but I'd like to know a little more before I rule it out.

I'm also interested in the small business market (at the early stage when businesses are launching) and I don't know what the intersection of small business and crowdfunding is. That's pretty abstract, I know, but hey, it's 2 am on a Fri night.

Paul
05-18-2013, 04:10 AM
Hi Jim,

You probably know that crowdfunding right now is “donation” only investing. That is, the investors don’t receive any ownership. Most of the crowdfunding is for projects, not actually funding a company startup. Usually they give out some kind of gift to the investor/donator. Currently the laws are that you can’t sell equity this way.

The reason I became interested is because the rules are about to change. The SEC is going to allow equity investments for start up businesses.

I’ve been involved with funding startups for quite a few years including taking companies “public” (not Wall Street IPO’s, over the counter).

So, we want to be in position when the rules change. I have an SEC attorney partner that will handle the legal side.

Obviously, we will be looking for companies that just want to raise capital to launch their business. But, our REAL interest is in companies that want to become public. We can do all the legal work, filings, market makers etc to get companies trading. We want to be something of an incubator for those companies.

Your business, Starty Pants, is probably a perfect fit for crowdfunding once the new rules are in place.

Take a look at Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com). They are the big one for now.

Thanks,
Paul