If there were ever doubts about the validity of the crowdfunding investment model, an announcement Tuesday by Israeli crowdfunding pioneer OurCrowd should put them to rest. The fund said it has raised $60 million since it was established 16 months ago — nearly $20 million of that in just the last four months. Those figures, said CEO Jon Medved, put OurCrowd far ahead in fundraising of any other crowdfunding firm anywhere.
Crowdfunding describes an Internet-based process in which qualified non-millionaires pool their money, angel-style, to invest in promising start-ups. As an equity crowdfunding platform, OurCrowd identifies companies seeking early stage investment and brings these opportunities to its membership. They get to choose which deals they participate in via OurCrowd managed partnerships, said Medved. OurCrowd co-invests in all of these deals and manages the ongoing investments in the companies, including board participation.
Individual investors can get in on the action for as little as $10,000, giving them opportunities to make angel-style investments in promising start-ups, which usually would require at least tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Crowdfunding was made possible after the US Securities and Exchange Commission implemented changes that lifted a long-standing ban on “general solicitation” (advertising) of certain securities and investment vehicles. Private companies and entrepreneurs seeking to raise capital from US investors can now market their company’s investment opportunity publicly to “accredited investors” (individuals with over a million dollars in liquid net worth or incomes over $200,000 a year) via social media, print materials, email and other means. That is the crowd that OurCrowd works with.
“Membership in OurCrowd is limited to only those meeting stringent accreditation requirements. Further, deals being funded are kept confidential and are not disclosed to the general public until complete,” said Medved, noting that OurCrowd is fully compliant with US government regulations on investment recruitment.
OurCrowd’s $60 million has been split among 46 current and former portfolio companies, with 20 of them raising more than $1 million each, and an additional four raising over $3 million. In that latter category is ReWalk Robotics, maker of the Israeli-developed exoskeleton system that enables the paralyzed to walk, recently cleared for home use by the FDA. ReWalk CEO Larry Jasinski has only nice things to say about crowdfunding and OurCrowd, which, he said, “did their diligence thoroughly, effectively and quickly. Their team has a combination of deep experience, meaningful skills and enthusiasm for their mission. They also have provided key contacts in the US and in new areas for us, such as Australia.”
Medved, for his part, is “proud to have raised these amounts in just 16 months since launching. These numbers demonstrate that our model works and can be effectively used for major funding rounds. The fact that OurCrowd has deployed more money for our companies than our Silicon Valley competitors proves that we are indeed at the forefront of equity crowdfunding innovation.”