By Madelyn Young
EarlyShares, an equity crowdfunding platform based in Miami, teamed up with the Gold Coast Venture Capital Association to host an entrepreneur-investor pitch event in Palm Beach April 30. The event took place at the Omphoy Ocean Resort and featured pitches from four entrepreneurs who are utilizing the EarlyShares platform to raise capital for their businesses.
The companies presented are all South Florida-based tech startups with strong traction and partnerships, experienced management teams, and previous rounds of capital already raised.
- * BoatSetter is a peer-to-peer boat-sharing marketplace headquartered in Aventura. BoatSetter Chairman and CEO Andrew Sturner launched boat rental operations for the business in February and has already facilitated more than 40 successful rental transactions.
- * Kleo is the Miami-based software company powering ClassWallet.com, an e-wallet solution for classrooms that was debuted last month at the EdSurge Tech for Schools Summit in Nashville. Kleo is helmed by Co-Founder and CEO Jamie Rosenberg, Founder of AdoptAClassroom.org, who is shown above presenting at the event.
- * PsychSignal, led by CEO and Co-Founder James Crane-Baker, provides real time data and “sentiment analysis” to the financial industry from its Miami Beach headquarters. PsychSignal, launched in 2013, currently serves large clients in the trading and hedge fund industries.
- * LinguaSys, based in Boca Raton under CEO Brian Garr, is an enterprise software company that offers natural language processing solutions. LinguaSys counts mega-mogul and billionaire Mark Cuban among its existing investors.
Information on each company’s products, management team, and equity investment opportunity is available at EarlyShares.com. EarlyShares is an online platform that hosts ‘general solicitation’ investment offerings – also known as ‘equity crowdfunding’ campaigns – under the new regulations for Title II of the JOBS Act.
The Title II regulations enable early-stage companies to publicly advertise the sale of their securities to accredited investors. EarlyShares has been driving the emerging equity crowdfunding industry since 2011, facilitating an online process whereby investors can access unique investment opportunities.
Yet while EarlyShares primarily facilitates an online process for equity crowdfunding investing, Wednesday’s pitch event took that process offline. A crowd of 60+ investors attended.
EarlyShares CEO Joanna Schwartz acknowledged in her remarks Wednesday that conducting in-person events not only helps area investors get acquainted with local entrepreneurs, but enables them to better understand the investment opportunities available to them under the JOBS Act.
“Many of you may be surprised to know that an event like this technically was not permitted until September of last year when the Title II rules went into effect,” said Schwartz to investors. “It’s an exciting time, but there’s still a vast disparity in the knowledge people have about this new industry.”
Yet despite its relative newness as a vehicle for capital raising and investing, the general solicitation process already has its success stories. BoatSetter, for one, has received more than $1 million in investor commitments through the EarlyShares platform.
The Gold Coast Venture Capital Association (GCVCA), which co-hosted the April 30 event with EarlyShares, is a not-for-profit corporation that supports the South Florida entrepreneurial community. The association, led by President Bob Fitts, hosts monthly dinner meetings at the Embassy Suites in Boca Raton that are open to any member of the local business community.