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The Crowdfunding Olympics

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Sara Hanks, co-founder and CEO of CrowdCheck, is an attorney with 30 years of experience working in the corporate and securities field. She recently stepped down as the General Counsel of the Congressional Oversight Panel, the overseer of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), which was chaired by Professor Elizabeth Warren. Sara brings a wealth of legal expertise in securities and start-ups to the emerging crowdfunding marketplace. Her new company, CrowdCheck, is designed to protect against fraud by performing due diligence checks on entrepreneurs.

I’m a proud Brit and a proud Virginian (version 1.0) and I see no contradiction there.  But it’s as a Brit I’m blogging today.  I watched the Olympic Opening Ceremony on Friday night with some Indian and English friends (also Americans 1.0) and a couple of token Americans and I loved the CROWDFUNDING GAMES.

The Beijing ceremonies were huge and impressive and breathtaking.  And organized.  Boy, were they organized.  Everything  went off just as planned, and people did exactly what they were supposed to do, in lockstep and as directed.  Amazing.  But London, with its theme ”It’s for everyone” was equally amazing.  It was inclusive: all those kids, all those nurses, all those volunteers.  The faces of every community that makes up New Britain.  And Britain in all its imperfections and passions.  It was majestic and cozy and meaningful and ridiculous (and sometimes downright weird: that giant baby) all at the same time.

So it is with crowdfunding.  Investment crowdfunding is going to be the exact opposite of organized and perfect.  It’s going to make room for people who care about monetary returns (the dancing industrialists), people who want to invest in their passions (the jitterbugging nurses), people who care about the environment and impact investing (the happy multicultural villagers prancing round the maypole) and whatever the crowdfunding equivalent of that monstrous baby is.  There are going to be missteps and a certain amount of chaos but in the end we’re all going to jitterbug/jive/bhangra all the way to our own individual medal ceremonies.

Less than two months after the precision-drumming Beijing Olympics, the organized financial sector took us down in flames.  A few months after the inclusive, human-scaled London Olympics, crowdfunding will be legal.

Is there a message there?  I don’t know.  But in the words of Sir Paul at the end of the ceremony:

“All together now: Then you’ll begin to make it better…


CareerFuel recently launched a petition to tell the SEC that we want crowdfunding-for-equity to happen on time! 

Thanks to the JOBS Act, signed into law by President Obama on April 5th, 2012, startups and small businesses will soon have a new way to raise capital—crowdfunding for equity. This will enable entrepreneurs to turn to the people who know them best (friends, family, and neighbors) and invite them to invest in businesses that they may use such as a local bakery, new technology for bicycle wheels, an afterschool (sports/homework) facility for kids with ADD, etc. 

As an entrepreneur and founder of CareerFuel.net, I know firsthand how difficult it is to raise capital and why this new alternative source of funding for small businesses and startups is so important. The SEC must write the regulations before this new job growth engine can be launched. Given the enormity of the job, it was not surprising—but nonetheless worrisome—when SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro testified before Congress that the first deadline (July, 2012) for regulatory structuring will not be met.

Let’s join forces as Americans to let the SEC know that empowering small businesses and entrepreneurs is vital to our communities and country. Tell the SEC that you are counting on them to do what it takes to meet the December 31, 2012 deadline and to create sensible and workable regulations to help fuel job growth in America! – AnnMarie McIlwain, Founder and CEO, CareerFuel.net

Click here to learn more about crowdfunding!

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