For companies looking to raise capital, there are many different options. While not every option may be best suited for every company, understanding each will help companies choose which one is best for them.
In the early stages of raising capital, seeking investments from family and friends can be both a simple and safe solution. Since family members and friends likely want to see you succeed, they are potential sources of funding for your company. Unlike traditional investors, family and friends do not need to register as an investor to donate. It is also likely that through this method, founders may not have to give up some of their equity. This allows them to retain control over their company.
Angel investors and angel groups can also be a source of capital. Angel investors are wealthy individuals that meet the SEC requirements of accredited investors, who invest their own money. Angel groups are multiple angel investors who have pooled their money together to invest in startups. Typically, angel investors invest capital in exchange for equity and may play a role as a mentor, anticipating a return in their investment.
Venture capital investors are SEC-regulated and invest in exchange for equity in the company. However, they are not investing their own money, rather investing other people’s. Since venture capital investors are trying to make money from their investments, they typically prefer to have some say in the company’s management, likely reducing the founders’ control.
Strategic investors may also be an option for companies. Typically owned by larger corporations, strategic investors invest in companies that will strengthen the corporate investor or that will help both parties grow. Strategic investors usually make available their connections or provide other resources that the company may need.
For some companies, crowdfunding may be useful for raising funds. With this method, companies can either offer equity or rewards to investors, the latter allowing the company to raise the money they need without giving up control of the company. Through the JOBS Act, the SEC passed Regulation A+ crowdfunding, which allows companies to raise up to $75 million in capital from both accredited and non-accredited investors. Crowdfunding gives companies access to a wider pool of potential investors, making it possible to secure the funding they need through this method.
Alternatively, Regulation CF may be a better fit. Through RegCF, companies can raise up to $5 million, during a 12-month, period from anyone looking to invest. This gives companies an important opportunity to turn their loyal customers into shareholders as well. These types of offerings must be done online through an SEC-registered intermediary, like a funding portal or broker-dealer. In the November 2020 update to the regulation, investment limits for accredited investors were removed and investment limits for non-accredited investors were revised to be $2,200 or 5% of the greater of annual income or net worth. It is also important to note that now, companies looking to raise capital using RegCF are permitted to “test the waters,” to gauge interest in the offering before it’s registered with the SEC. The SEC also permits the use of SPVs in RegCF offerings as well.
Regulation D is another method that private companies can use to raise capital. Through RegD, some companies are allowed to sell securities without registering the offering with the SEC. However, companies choosing to raise capital through RegD must electronically file the SEC’s “Form D.” By meeting either RegD exemptions 506(b) or 506(c), issuers can raise an unlimited amount of capital. To meet the requirements of the 506(b) exemption, companies must not use general solicitation to advertise securities, can raise money from an unlimited number of accredited investors and up to 35 other sophisticated investors, and must determine the information to provide investors while adhering to anti-fraud securities laws. For 506(c) exemptions, companies can solicit and advertise an offering but all investors must be accredited. In this case, the company must reasonably verify that the investor meet the SEC’s accredited investor requirements
Companies can also utilize direct offerings to raise money. Through a direct offering, companies can issue shares to the company directly to investors, without having to undergo an initial public offering (IPO). Since a direct offering is typically cheaper than an IPO, companies can raise funding without having major expenses. Since trading of shares bought through a direct offering is typically more difficult than those bought in an IPO, investors may request higher equity before they decide to invest.
Companies can offer security tokens to investors through an issuance platform. Companies should be aware that these securities are required to follow SEC regulations. It is becoming more common for companies to offer securities through an issuance platform, as it allows them to reach a larger audience than traditional methods. This is also attractive to investors, as securities can be traded in a secondary market, providing them with more options and liquidity for their shares.
Additionally, companies looking to raise capital can do so with the help of a broker-dealer. Broker-dealers are SEC-registered entities that deal with transactions related to securities, as well as buying and selling securities for its own account or those of its customers. Plus, certain states require issuers to work with a broker-dealer to offer securities, so working with a broker-dealer allows issuers to maintain compliance with the SEC and other regulatory entities. This makes it likely that a company raising capital already has an established relationship with a brokers-dealer.
Lastly, companies looking to raise capital can do it directly through their website. With the KoreConX all-in-one platform, companies can raise capital at their website, maintaining their brand experience. The platform allows companies to place an “invest now” button on their site throughout their RegA, RegCF, RegD, or other offerings so that potential investors can easily invest.
Whichever method of raising capital a company chooses, it must make sure that it aligns with the company’s goals. Without understanding each method, it is possible that founders may end up being asked to give up too much equity and lose control of the company they have worked hard to build. Companies should approach the process of raising capital with a strategy already in place so that they can be satisfied with the outcome.