Two (Possible) Changes for NC's Crowdfunding Bill in 2015 - 1

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Two (Possible) Changes for NC's Crowdfunding Bill in 2015 - 1
Organizers bummed out over a North Carolina legislature vote against crowdfunding already have an eye on changes they can make to the existing bill to increase its chances of passage in 2015.

And crowdfunding's champion, Rep. Tom Murry, has already pledged his support for moving the bill forward during next year's long session.

The changes are coming from lessons learned from other states and countries, says Mark Easley, a local angel investor and co-organizer of the lobbying group (He hasn't yet committed to leading the effort next year.)

First, it might make sense to raise the investment limit from the proposed $2,000 (same as the federal limit) to $5,000 or $10,000 (like seven states have done). Businesses may hesitate to use equity crowdfunding as a fundraising tool because they don't want hundreds of investors with such small stakes in their companies.

In the U.K., where equity crowdfunding is already happening, the average deal has about 65 investors. Its limit is around $5K in U.S. dollars, Easley says.

Second, copying Washington state, redefine an accredited investor so more people can participate in equity investing to begin with. This is in response to an already high threshold to invest - $200,000 in annual income each of the last two years or $1 million in net worth, representing just 3 percent of the U.S. population - and threats by the Securities and Exchange Commission to raise the threshold.

"The opportunity to get money is going to be worse and worse," Easley says. Washington's definition lowers the cap for investors to be accredited - they can invest up to 10 percent of income with a net worth of $100,000 or above. For example, someone with a $500,000 portfolio could invest up to $50,000 in crowdfunded startups or small businesses in the state.

"This is a very good idea, and enables a much larger potential pool of investor money in that state," Easley says. The new thresholds were passed in March 2014.

"I think we can point to these examples in other states that are having success," he says. "Now that we know how it works, here are some improvements we can make."