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Communities like yours are using Crowdfunding to take matters into their own hands

David Drake - CEO - LDJ Capital - Credit

David Drake – CEO – LDJ Capital – Credit

While Crowdfunding gets most of its publicity due to massive campaigns for sexy devices on Kickstarter our US Crowdfunding expert David Drake says that increasingly companies like Fundrise are running projects that use Crowdfunding to fund real estate, in particular providing investors access to wholesale development deals and giving members of the community the ability to fund local community real estate projects.

ED: Funrise recently announced they have raised ~$30 million infunding from Chinese Social Networking company RenRen

Crowdfunding has now grown from a niche to a legitimate platform for funding projects of all kinds by raising money from the public at large. Nowhere has this been more pronounced than the real estate sector where there are now a number of crowdfunding platforms offering investors the chance to participate directly in real estate projects. Traditionally, the real estate market has been the exclusive preserve of wealthy and well-connected individuals with the exception of real estate investment trusts (REITs).

Credit -

Credit –

Leading real estate crowdfunding platform Fundrise takes a slightly different approach from other platforms because it emphasises the social benefits that arise from investors having a say in the development of their own communities.

A case in point is the Transfer Station in Philadelphia which set out to test the market and got $1.8 million committed on a target of only $500,000 to create a community-oriented co-working, retail, education and event space.

It points out that local residents have a better appreciation of their community needs and should have a say in what happens there.

Sometimes, the dominance of large investors can lead to a disconnect between fund managers and the properties in which they invest.

The process is relatively straightforward with developers listing projects on the website and investors buying shares in these projects for sums starting as low as $100. Returns to the investors come from rental income and capital appreciation when the property is sold.

Fundrise is a pioneer in offering “Regulation A” investments, which allows any investor, and not just the wealthy individuals, to invest in real estate and receive attractive returns.

A good way of getting the flavor of how they operate is to look at the details of its recently closed third public offering, which was a property where any resident of DC, Virginia and Maryland could invest in for as little as $100 each. Fundrise ended up raising $350,000 from 378 investors, and what is interesting is that 25 percent of these investors live within a distance of 1 mile from the property.

The total project cost was $1.7 million with a projected return of 8 percent. Of the 378 investors, 51.6 percent (195) came from Washington DC of whom 16 percent were accredited investors; 24.9 percent (94) from Virginia of whom 29 percent were accredited investors; and 23.5 percent (89) from Maryland of whom 21 percent were accredited investors. Of the total investors, 51.4 percent were between the ages of 18 to 35 years, 41.1 percent between 35 years and 55 years and the remaining 7.9 percent were over 55 years old. The average age of an investor is 37 years.

The maximum number of orders was 100 for $100 apiece, followed by 80 orders for $500 each. The average order size was $926.

The numbers and the structuring may vary from transaction to transaction but this is a good representation of the investment trend on Fundrise. All their offerings have been fully funded. There is clearly considerable demand for small value investments as well as a reasonable amount of demand from investors who live in the neighbourhood.

When you tie in the fact that investors are comfortable with real estate and that diversification can be easily achieved with multiple investments in different properties in the Fundrise portfolio, the value of crowdfunding as a legitimate and credible means of funding real estate projects is clearly established. This model is certainly one template for structuring real estate crowdfunding in the future.

David Drake is an early-stage equity expert and the founder and chairman of LDJ Capital, a New York City-based family office, and The Soho Loft Media Group, a global financial media company with divisions in Corporate Communications, Publishing and Conferences.

NORMAL – 3D Printed Custom Earphones

These are cool, custom made 3D printed earphones for similar (albeit expensive) pricing to premium ear buds.

Normal-Ear-Bud-ExplodedNORMAL uses an App that takes photos to determine the size and shape of your ear and then prints an ear bud that will fit you like a glove.








NORMAL is opening a factory in Manhattan where you will be able to view your earphones being made. They are setting up 3D printers, CNC machines and assembly lines to produce them on the spot.

Normal-FactoryBe interesting to see how they scale, I imagine it would difficult to trust this to overseas 3rd party manufacturing when each is built for a particular customer and delivery time is expected in days not months.

For years we have been talking about mass customisation and have seen both vehicle and clothing manufacturers offer mass customisation but it will be interesting to see if this is new trend starting for mass customisation of personal electronics.

GROUNDFLOOR launches peer to peer Real Estate Crowdfunding platform

By David Drake

GroundFloor, a peer-to-peer real estate lending platform, is launching a landmark securities offering that enables crowdfunding of real estate transactions. This innovative move will allow approximately 43 million Americans in six states to invest in real estate in a way that wasn’t possible until now.

Lending money to a real-estate developer used to be something reserved for banks and other accredited investors. GroundFloor is changing the rules of the game, allowing individuals to become lenders in real-estate projects. The developers of such projects will pay investors interest on the loan just as they would a bank. This new initiative provides the general public with the opportunity to diversify their investments, without being limited by their income or wealth. Also, real estate developers will have access to a new way of financing their projects and ideas, which will stimulate new real estate developments.

Federal regulations generally define an accredited investor as someone with an annual income of over $200,000 or liquid net worth of $1 million. These regulations are keeping the vast majority of Americans out of real estate investing. GroundFloor came up with an interesting and novel strategy. Instead of waiting for new crowdfunding regulations promised by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that will supposedly allow non-accredited investors to participate in real-estate crowdfunding, the company decided to work within existing state laws. So far, regulators in six states (Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, Illinois, Virginia and Massachusetts) authorized the company’s initiative to solicit residents’ participation in its deals.

GroundFloor’s initiative is granting access to virtually any person interested in real estate investing, regardless of their income or net worth. Anyone can become an investor and the minimum investment is $100. Loan terms vary from six months to five years. As for safety measures, the company has a thorough pre-screening process for developers before they are able to list their projects. Most importantly, the loans are secured by the properties themselves, which is not a feature of other platforms that provide equity in real estate.

GroundFloor concentrates on smaller, residential projects. The pilot project for this whole new real-estate investment philosophy was the renovation of a historical single family home in Atlanta by John Mangham, a successful independent developer. The project was listed in February, and 39 Georgia residents lent the developer $40,000 to complete the restoration. The cash was raised in just five days and the developer will pay to investors 8% interest on the loan.

After the success of the pilot project, GroundFloor has now expanded to five more states (Virginia, Arizona, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts). The long-term goal of the company is to make this type of investment accessible to all Americans.

Other real-estate crowdfunding platforms are relying on wealthy accredited investors to raise money for their projects. GroundFloor, on the other hand, is building a platform for the rest of us, where any investor can access quality real estate investment opportunities. GroundFloor investors will invest anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, making a safe investment that will bring nice returns on short to medium terms (from six months to five years). In other words, the company is focusing on a new market, tens of millions of potential investors, and it might just be the boost that the real estate industry and construction industry really need to make a recovery from the recession.

This type of real estate investing comes with a series of advantages for both developers and investors. Developers gain access to funds more rapidly: let’s remember that the funds for the pilot project in Atlanta were raised in just five days! Also, the developers are no longer dependent on financial institutions or accredited investors, which allows them more flexibility and creativity in their projects. Investors, on the other hand, have access to a form of investing that is safer than stock market investing and more profitable than depositing money in a bank.

One more thing worth mentioning: this form of financing is a way of bringing ethics back to real estate. Communities are offered the opportunity to back up projects that bring them something valuable, instead of dealing with real estate projects drawn by huge corporate developers who are far removed from the needs of the community.

GroundFloor makes investing in real estate projects accessible to anyone, building the path to a new way of financing the real estate industry – more flexible, more transparent, more dynamic, and more importantly: open to all.

David Drake is an early-stage equity expert and the founder and chairman of LDJ Capital, a New York City private equity advisory firm, and The Soho Loft – The Voice of Capital Formation – a global financial media company with divisions in Corporate Communications, Publishing and Expos & Events. You can reach him directly at [email protected].

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Regulation A+ opens the Floodgates of Real Estate Investing

by David Drake

Regulation A+, which is also known as Direct Public Offering, will significantly bring down the cost of raising capital for businesses. Such incidences like paying $250,000 legal fees when you raise $5,000,000 will no longer exist. Regulation A+ is expected to greatly influence direct public funding and give people an opportunity to raise capital more affordably.

Many people have been unable to start businesses in the States due to the strict regulations that have been in existence especially as far as raising capital is concerned. People have been paying thousands of dollars as legal fees on every capital they raise. This has always been the biggest discouragement especially for startup businesses. Business experts have argued that this has been a big obstacle especially to people who wanted to do business but did not have access to sufficient capital on their own.As a result, operating business in the States has been left to the few lucky ones who can easily raise money and pay the legal fees.

With the new laws contained in Regulation A+, startups will be able to raise up to $50 million in capital per year. Unlike the previous years, startups can now sell securities to the public and raise capital even from more non-accredited financiers. Basically, this is aimed at giving equal opportunities to those interested in doing business, regardless of their capability to raise capital. As a matter of fact, more people will now be able to raise capital, start businesses and generate additional jobs.
One of the sectors that will benefit greatly from Regulation A+ is the real estate industry. The demand for real estate properties has always been strong in the States. Many people have showed interest in investing in this industry. With the Regulation A+ in place, startups will now be able to raise sufficient capital and develop real estate properties hassle free.

Experts have been making comparisons between Regulation A+ and Regulation D. Definitely, both Regulations have their advantages and disadvantages. But the fact that Regulation A+ enables businesses to raise capital from non-accredited investors makes it far better than Regulation D. In addition, the scrapped off legal fees and reduced compliance costs in Regulation A+ also make it affordable for startup businesses to raise capital and start operations immediately.

In general, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, or JOBS Act, brings a different business climate in the States. From the time JOBS Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama in April 2012, there are great steps that have been made already. Currently, a lot of capital is being raised by startups through crowdfunding.

Regulation A+ is more advantageous than Regulation D, because with Regulation A+ startups can raise money from non-accredited investors.

There is high anticipation that Regulation A+ will be approved. This is because it is believed that the law will enable more people to participate in building wealth in the country. Before Regulation A+, only the rich investors have been dominating the real estate industry and giving no room for startups to get established.

But with Regulation A+, the many startups that have not been able to operationalize their business ideas for lack of funds can now do so. The business platform will be made neutral as every business will easily access the funds it requires. This means that there will be more competition, especially in the real estate sector, and this will lead to high quality products and services. Many people are also expected to shift from leasing to owning properties because nearly everybody will now be able to invest.

Regulation A+ gives the public an opportunity to participate in active business and thus, in building wealth. Previously, this was left to privately owned companies and individuals who were able to pay for the high costs of operating business in the States. Regulation A+ will connect the public directly with investors and their investments. Most importantly, transaction costs and fees will be sliced making it affordable for startups to get established and operate efficiently.

If you have been thinking and reflecting on making an investment, especially in the real estate sector, this is the best opportunity for you to explore. Regulation A+ provides a conducive environment to crowdfund capital from non-accredited investors and fund your startups, and for investors to gain wealth as well. Businesses are expected to be more competitive and manageable even by startups. Just make sure that you understand comprehensively Regulation A+ and then make the necessary steps to start your business.

David Drake is an early-stage equity expert and the founder and chairman of LDJ Capital, a New York City private equity advisory firm, and The Soho Loft – The Voice of Capital Formation – a global financial media company with divisions in Corporate Communications, Publishing and Expos. You can reach him directly [email protected].

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