Category Archives: Press

Get your checkbook ready: Oregon’s crowdfunding law goes into effect today

Jan 15, 2015, 11:58am PST
Staff Reporter-Portland Business Journal
amy Peartl Hatch Innovation

Cathy Cheney | Portland Business Journal

Amy Pearl, founder of Hatch Innovation, led the effort to legalize community public offerings in Oregon. The new rules allowing Oregon businesses to raise money from Oregon residents took effect today..

A new rule allowing Oregon businesses to raise funds from state residents takes effect today.

Oregon joins about two dozen states that now allow a form of crowdfunding called community public offerings, authorized by Congress in the 2012 Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act.

The Oregon version allows individuals to invest up to $2,500 in Oregon businesses, which would be allowed to raise up to $500,000 to fund an array of business expenses. The program is administered by the state Department of Consumer and Business Affairs. Amy Pearl, founder of Hatch Innovation and a champion for the new rule, estimates community crowdfunding could unleash more than $900 million in new capital for homegrown companies.

Meet some of the unique Oregon businesses preparing to take advantage of the program at a launch party slated for 7 to 10 p.m. Jan. 22 at Hatch, 2420 N.E. Sandy Blvd. Hatch is a Portland business incubator focused on social entrepreneurship.

Here’s a look at some of the Business Journal’s coverage of the story.

Nov. 14, 2014: Oregonians helping Oregonians: A $1B opportunity in the making

Dec. 4, 2014: Poll: Will you invest in Oregon businesses if equity crowd funding is legalized?

Dec. 4: 2014: Oregon expanding an investment tool for the 1% to help the 99%

Dec. 16, 2014: Why a Southern Oregon e-vehicle serial entrepreneur expects a huge 2015

Dec. 26, 2014: A new Catalyst for social entrepreneurs

Dec. 30, 2014: Oregon’s crowdfunding experiment is (almost) ready to launch

Jan. 2, 2015: Cover Story: A new tool to fuel small business growth

A new model to fuel small business growth

Jan 2, 2015, 3:00am PST

Amy Pearl, the chief architect of Oregon’s community public offering initiative, said there are few capital-raising options for small business that have been turned down by banks.

When attorney Robert Banks walked to the witness table to share his thoughts on a new form of crowdfunding in Oregon, AmyPearl clenched her fist.

Would the Portland securities litigator support a plan that allows ordinary Oregonians to invest up to $2,500 in small Oregon businesses? Or would he oppose community public offerings?

Pearl, the passionate, energetic cheerleader behind the drive to create the program, wasn’t sure which way Banks would go — and for good reason. After decades spent litigating on behalf of clients who’d lost their nest eggs when good ideas went bad, or worse, bad actors...continued on the PBJ website.

Plan would allow crowdfunding investments

Link to Original Article

Contributing to small businesses could bring financial rewards or a sliver of the company

By Jonathan Cooper
The Associated Press
DEC 7, 2014

SALEM — Oregon is moving toward joining a growing number of states that allow small businesses to pick up a large number of small investors through crowdfunding.

Many businesses already use crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter to raise money from hundreds or thousands of people, but the money is a donation, not an investment. The donor can expect nothing more than a future product from the company.

If Oregon’s proposal goes forward, ordinary Oregonians ponying up no more than $2,500 could reap financial rewards or even own a sliver of the company.

Financial laws and regulations spell out strict rules about who can invest in businesses and how investment opportunities can be advertised. Oregon’s proposal would loosen some of the rules, allowing an Oregon-based business to raise up to $250,000 from Oregon residents in chunks of $2,500 or less. The investors would not have to be accredited.

“Most of the infrastructure for investing is designed and supported by the one percent,” said Amy Pearl, founder and director of Hatch, a Portland group that seeks to help community-minded entrepreneurs grow their businesses. “It really is either a bank loan or angel investing. And angels are 1 percent of the 1 percent. It’s a teeny tiny sliver.”

Pearl has worked with state finance regulators to prepare the crowdfunding rules, which she says have the potential to open access to capital for thousands of businesses. She said it could be a ­particularly strong tool in rural communities where it’s even harder for local businesses to secure large investors.

“Suddenly rural communities can invest in their own businesses,” Pearl said. “They truly and literally could not do that beforehand unless they were family or friend.”

Not everyone is convinced that crowdfunding is an appropriate way to match small businesses with the money they need to grow, however.

The crowdfunding rules would pair inexperienced business owners with unsophisticated investors, a scenario that’s very likely to result in failures and recrimination, said Alex Pawlowski, a banker and longtime economic development official from Southern Oregon.

“This is not Kickstarter where these are just gifts we’re giving to support our local business,” Pawlowski said. “This is an investment, in which investors have a right to expect a return on investment.”

The state Department of Consumer and Business Services is accepting public comment on the proposal through Wednesday. The Division of Finance and Corporate Securities administrator, David Tatman, then will decide whether to move forward with the rule, which would take effect next year.

The rule as proposed would allow businesses to advertise the basic terms of their investment offering without promising windfall payouts. They’d also have to disclose a variety of information about the business owners, existing investors, lawsuits, potential risks and other pertinent details.

Business owners would have to meet with an expert before they can seek investors. Investments could take the form of debt or stock in the firm.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has issued draft rules for crowdfunding at the federal level, but it has not finalized them. That’s left it up to the states to decide whether they want to allow their own businesses to raise capital from their residents, which was allowed under 2012 legislation approved by Congress to promote job creation.

State rules vary significantly, with many allowing investors to raise up to $1 million.

Oregon expanding an investment tool for the 1% to help the 99%

 

Wendy Culverwell, Sustainable Business Oregon – Dec 4, 2014, 5:43am PST UPDATED: Dec 4, 2014, 9:31am PST

Link to original article

Sustainable Awards 2014 Amy Pearl Springboard Innovation

Photo – Cathy Cheney | Portland Business Journal

Amy Pearl, founder of Hatch (ne Springboard) Innovation, is leading efforts to establish Community Public Offerings in Oregon. The program, tentatively slated to become law on Jan. 1, would allow Oregon businesses to raise up to $250,000 from Oregon residents, who could invest up to $2,500. Portland Mayor Charlie Hales recently honored Pearl with an Innovation in Sustainability award, presented by the Portland Business Journal and Sustainable Business Oregon.

Oregon’s small businesses are one step closer to having a new capital raising tool at their disposal.

Community Public Offerings, or an Oregon form of crowdfunding, is on track to take effect Jan. 1 following a hearing Wednesday in Salem. The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services will continue to accept written comments on the new rules through next Wednesday.

Generally, the new rules will allow Oregon businesses to raise up to $250,000 from Oregon residents, with a cap of $2,500 on individual investors. The limit was raised from the original $2,000.

The program is authorized under the federal JOBS Act and is already in effect in various forms in more than 10 states, including Washington, Texas, Tennessee and others.

Amy Pearl, founder of Hatch Innovation for social entrepreneurship, played a leading role in developing the rules, securing approval at the state level and cultivating the first crop of businesses to take advantage.

Pearl estimates the move could unleash nearly $1 billion in new capital for small Oregon businesses, a figure based on 1 percent of the combined retirement savings of all Oregonians.

About a dozen businesses in Portland, Eugene, Southern and Eastern Oregon are preparing to file for public offerings, though they’re prevented from publicly discussing them at this point.

Wednesday’s hearing was sparsely attended, but included two key endorsements.

Bob Banks, a Portland attorney who has specialized in securities litigation for 40 years, said the $2,500 upper limit means investors won’t be crippled by the inevitable failure of some startups.

“There aren’t going to be too many people that if they lose their entire $2,500 will miss a meal or not be able to pay their electric bill,” he said.

Nevertheless, he cautioned that whenever funds are exchanged, there is the potential for abuse.

“There will probably — unfortunately — be circumstances with bad actors,” he said.

Community public offerings hold great promise for minority-owned startups, offered Jarvez D. Hall, outreach manager for Small Business Majority, a Portland agency representing small business interests.

“It’s imperative to communities of color that may not have access to traditional lending,” he said.

Written comments may be submitted until 5 p.m. Dec. 10 to Shelley.A.Greiner@state.or.us.

Oregon proposes rules for crowdfunding start-ups, business expansions

By Elliot Njus | enjus@oregonian.com
on December 03, 2014 at 6:45 AM

Small Oregon businesses in need of funds may soon look for investors in “the crowd” — which is to say, just about any Oregonian.

Under proposed rules, Oregon-based based businesses would be allowed for the first time to raise as much as $250,000 through a large number of small investments from state residents. Individuals would be allowed to invest up to $2,500 apiece regardless of their assets or income.

The offerings could be advertised to the general public, likely through online portals resembling the crowdfunding website Kickstarter. Some small business boosters say that could dramatically increase the amount of capital available for growing small businesses.

But Kickstarter solicits donations, sometimes in exchange for small gifts, while these investments could come with a return. But the investors, including those who don’t have much to lose in the first place, could walk away empty-handed if the venture fails.

These solicitations wouldn’t be overseen in the same way as other public investment offerings. For example, the businesses wouldn’t register the offering or use a licensed broker-dealer.

But the state would require detailed disclosures, both before the securities are sold and through the life of the investment. And investors are limited to putting $2,500 toward any one offering in an effort to limit potential losses.

The U.S. Congress gave equity crowdfunding its stamp of approval in 2012 in an effort to jump-start small businesses. But the federal Securities and Exchange Commission — which, concerned about fraud, opposed the law — has been slow to write the rules that would regulate this new way of financing startups and company expansions.

So states have been filling the vacuum by writing their own rules. Washington state passed a crowdfunding bill earlier this year, and its rules took effect in November. The catch: the rules only apply to in-state businesses, and they can only solicit investments from state residents.

Oregon’s crowdfunding rules would be enacted through new administrative rules crafted by regulators rather than by the Legislature.

A summary and the full text of the proposed rule are posted on the the state Division of Finance and Corporate Securities website. The division is taking comments on the proposal through 5 p.m. on Dec. 10. They can be emailed to Shelley.A.Greiner@state.or.us.

Oregon to delve into crowdfunding rules

Dec 3, 2014, 6:47am PST

Link to Original Article

The rules would affect Oregon small businesses looking to raise start-up cash, among other enterprises.

Andy Giegerich
Digital Managing Editor-
Portland Business Journal

The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services wants to learn a little bit more about crowdfunding.
The agency is holding a public hearing today at 9 a.m. to collect input on a new proposed rule. The rule would create an exemption that allows Oregon-based small businesses to raise up to $250,000 from Oregon investors without needing to register the contributions.
The rule would place a $2,500 limit on any single investment.
Companies covered under the rule would need to be registered to do business in Oregon and sell securities only to Oregon residents.
The hearing takes place in Room 260 in the Labor and Industries Building, 350 Winter St. NE, in Salem.

Oregon Rule Change Would Allow Small Businesses To Use Crowdfunding – OPB

Chris Lehman, OPB – Northwest News Network | Dec. 3, 2014 4:58 p.m.

Link to Original Article

Businesses in Oregon could soon take advantage of the crowdfunding phenomenon.State regulators Wednesday heard from the public on proposed rules to let smaller companies raise cash from Oregon investors. Think Kickstarter — except instead of making a donation you’d be making an actual investment in a small business.

It’s a workaround of federal rules — with a $250,000 limit per company. Small business advocate Jarvez Hall said he thinks the new policy could open doors to people of color who can have a harder time accessing traditional sources of capital.

“It kind of takes the stigma around color and race and some of those things out of the equation, and it brings it right back to do you have an idea, do you have a passion, do people believe in it. And if they do, they support it,” Hall said.

Washington state is rolling out a similar policy. The Oregon crowdfunding rule could take effect as soon as next month.

CPOs could help small businesses — and regular people

CPOs could help small businesses — and regular people

By Greg Stiles
Mail Tribune
Nov. 3, 2014

Link to original article

Mom-and-pop businesses and entrepreneurs needing cash to get off the ground may soon have an alternative source of revenue.

Following the lead of several other states, Oregon’s Division of Finance and Corporate Securities is drawing administrative rules that would allow Oregonians to invest in small-scale enterprises that until now have been off-limits, except to deep-pocketed “accredited investors” meeting Securities and Exchange Commission standards.

Small businesses currently can’t legally solicit investment from clients and customers. But thanks to an entrepreneurial-minded consulting firm in Portland, something called Community Public Offerings is right around the corner.

“It’s sort of like an IPO for the rest of us,” said Amy Pearl, executive director of HATCH, who began pushing the idea in Salem last May after a similar proposal passed the Washington Legislature and was signed into law. “The idea is to retain capital in a community. Right now, all of our long-term savings is in Wall Street. So how do we get some of this money back? Also, how do we engage local folks in helping to launch the kind of companies we want to see?”

Pearl was in Medford Monday to meet with mentors and small-business consultants who advise people about raising capital.

The intent was to pursue legislation, Pearl said, but unexpectedly the movement found favor among DFCS regulators after a 90-minute discussion. After putting together a draft for legislators, she was called back to Salem, where the administrator suggested there was plenty of backing for the proposal and the process could be simplified by simply writing administrative rules.

“It has proceeded thoughtfully, with lots of feedback from across the state in a very collaborative process to the point where it is going up for public comment Dec. 3 and made legal the first of the year,” she said.

The proposed investment cap is $250,000 annually, compared to other states where the upper end is $1 million, or even as high as $2 million, Pearl said.

“This is the lowest cap of all the states except Maryland, where they are doing something a bit different,” she said.

At this point, investors are limited to $2,000 per person, per deal, per year, and must be Oregon residents. The targeted businesses range from pie shops and restaurants to small farms.

“It meets the needs of the kinds of businesses we’re trying to serve, not that it just makes the regulators happy,” Pearl said. “If a big mixer breaks at a bakery that has been doing well for 10 years, and they need a new one, or if they want to expand next door, they either use their credit card or go to the bank or they mortgage their home. This way they will be able to go to their community.”

Oregon businesses hoping to use CPOs will have to provide disclosures and information about the business. Although the rules are still being hammered out, companies will need to address many of the same factors they must disclose in initial public offerings, including ownership experience, duties, litigation and how the funds will be spent.

The vast majority of residents, who don’t meet SEC-accredited investor requirements, she said, are currently limited to investing in the stock market, mutual funds and IRAs — instruments that send money outside of where they live. Investors will incur risks just like they do in other investments. The only state-required fee will be a $200 registration.

“Shareholders will not be the kind exerting control in the business,” Pearl said. “This is not Shark Tank, it’s more like Guppy Tank.”

Pearl estimates as much as $915 million is available, based on national figures.

“Previously all that money has been unable to be used for local investing,” she said. “It’s a really, really big deal for people to invest nearly $1 billion per year.”

To find out more about Community Public Offerings, call HATCH at 503-452-6898, Sustainable Valley Technology Group at 541-414-0000, email capital@hatchthefuture.org or go to www.hatchthefuture.org.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31, and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.