It’s about filling a gap, one that we have been harping on for years, namely, startup. As an April Slate article described the likely beneficiaries of the Jumpstarting Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act: “They’ll be startups and young businesses that have growth potential, but not on a large enough scale to attract venture capital.” It will take effect in 2013, and the SEC will have an additional 200+ days to work out the regulatory piece. “Crowdfunding,” the opportunity to have many small contributors or investors buy into an entity, has largely been hamstrung by the securities laws, put there to protect us (us being the little guys who don’t have a lot of experience investing and can’t afford to lose a lot of money. The law will still have a say, but the rewards (as well as the potential losses) could be widespread.
“Along with individual companies, small-time startup scenes outside of Silicon Valley are likely to reap rewards as well. Austin, Boston, and New York have had some success in building startup cultures, but they’ve been held back by the Bay Area’s grip on venture-capital money. Crowdfunding will allow companies without access to Sand Hill cash to find the capital they need online, perhaps spurring a wave of innovation among mom-and-pop startups whose ambitions are local rather than global. If that happens, the JOBS Act might end up creating some jobs after all.” (quotes from the April 6 Slate article)
“The vast majority of the American public, the 99 percent of us who are “unaccredited” investors, will soon have the opportunity to keep their money local. The half of our economy made up of small, independent businesses will now have access to capital that previously could only go to giant public companies. Americans have $30 trillion dollars invested in securities — imagine if even 10 percent of that went from Wall Street to Main Street. What could $3 trillion dollars do in our communities?”
I’m most interested in the ecosystem growth this Act will offer up to us. This Act is really an invitation. It invites those of us advocating for local and sustainable businesses to make this work broadly, sharing knowledge and taking advantage of the opportunities wisely. Michael Shuman sums it up nicely,” I believe that local economy advocates now must start educating the public about the importance of favoring local investment. Our argument should be that knowing the business in which one invests – knowing the products, the entrepreneur, the workforce, etc. – is the best way to prevent fraud.”
Hatch: A Community Innovation Lab, and other ecosystem cultivators, should look closely at their new role in getting the word out, and acting as sources of information and direction.