Kickstarter-type fundraising campaigns on the Internet will look more like venture capital deals for student entrepreneurs when equity crowdfunding for small businesses goes mainstream, according to Scott McIntyre, interim director of the new Office of Student Entrepreneurship and Engagement at The University of Toledo.
“Crowdfunding is going to new levels next year as more people will be allowed to own shares of private companies raising capital,” McIntyre said. “Innovators developing new technology will be able to target small investors as early backers by offering them an equity stake in their business. This is a massive opportunity for entrepreneurs, but even more so for regional and emerging economies.”McIntyre volunteers as vice president of the Crowdfunding Professional Association, the nonprofit trade group created after passage of the 2012 JOBS Act, and says crowdfunding is on the cusp of a major expansion because in May nonaccredited “everyday people” investors will finally be able to buy shares in startup companies as outlined in Title III of the JOBS Act.
In October, the Securities and Exchange Commission adopted final rules to permit companies to offer and sell securities through crowdfunding portals and provide investors with additional protections.
“Equity crowdfunding promises to convert enormous amounts of social capital into real capital,” McIntyre said. “The current individual crowdfunding campaign contribution averages around $70. And even at that small amount, crowdfunding revenue — including debt lending — eclipsed venture capital and angel investment last year. This is a global movement with remarkable power.”
McIntyre recently returned from a weeklong trip to Guiyang, China, where he was invited to address the 2015 World Crowdfunding Conference about soliciting small amounts of money from a large pool of people on the Internet and how students creating new technologies could use that to launch companies.
He addressed a crowd of approximately 13,000 people, including leaders of institutions of higher learning, government, and industries from China, Canada, Australia, Israel, Singapore and the United Kingdom.
“It’s a massive opportunity for the local economy and beyond,” McIntyre said. “Part of my ambition is to weave crowdfunding into the ecosystem of student entrepreneurship at UT. Without it, where do innovators go for capital without assets or collateral, besides friends, family and savings? There are a lot of gaps, and crowdfunding bridges some [of those].”
McIntyre will travel to India in January to talk about crowdfunding and student entrepreneurship at the International Conference on Crowdfunding at Sri Krishna Arts and Science College in Coimbatore, where 2,000 students, 150 delegates from educational institutions in India, and 20 delegates from abroad are expected to participate.