Last month saw the launch of the Republic crowdfunding platform. Republic is passionate about giving everyone access to startup investing, regardless of their background, location, or income. Jackson Ross has had a long relationship with Republic co-founder Ken Nguyen, who was previously the general counsel of our client AngelList, the world’s leading startup investment platform.
Yesterday we took a few minutes of Ken’s time for a chat.
Jackson Ross: Tell us a bit about Republic’s origins, and what inspired you to start a crowdfunding portal.
Ken Nguyen: Having spent a few years building AngelList’s fundraising products, we saw first-hand what works and what doesn’t work in traditional venture. The current startup financing system favors entrepreneurs in California who are male, Asian or Caucasian, and focused on software apps. Equity crowdfunding can level the playing field for founders who don’t fit that mold, giving them a chance to get pre-seed capital to prove their ideas and grow them into innovative companies. We want to truly democratize investing, opening up access to founders and investors alike.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in launching and operating Republic?
The biggest challenge is to get the word out to as many people as possible, letting them know that anyone can participate in entrepreneurship with an investment of as little as $10 in mission-driven companies.
How is Republic different from other crowdfunding portals?
Our team’s expertise in angel investing, in securities law, and in engineering. We’re also more than just a funding portal; we’re building a community to help founders and educate investors.
How do your prior experiences with AngelList and in the tech startup community affect your outlook, business strategy and relations with companies offering securities on Republic?
Before launching Republic, our team saw hundreds of pitch decks and spoke with countless startup founders. When working with companies interested in running a Republic campaign, we understand their challenges and concerns, and we use our own experience to help them think through the pros and cons of doing a crowdfunding campaign. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from issuer applicants on their general experience with us.
What are your thoughts on Regulation CF and The Fix Crowdfunding Act?
GAAP accounting and annual disclosure obligations are the most unfriendly elements of Reg CF. The Fix Crowdfunding Act doesn’t address either. That said, the law as is does work and it will be improved over time. We’re not losing sleep over the traction of certain proposed legislation going through Congress right now.
What are your goals for Republic over the next five years?
Only one goal: getting millions of people excited about investing in startups that are innovative, mission-driven and diverse.
What is some advice you’d give to entrepreneurs considering regulation crowdfunding?
You need a well-thought-out strategy to market and convert investors. Expect to dedicate all of your time the month before launching the campaign, and during its entire duration, on executing your strategy. If you’re not ready to do that, think twice.
Visit Republic.co today to see the interesting and inventive companies raising funds on the platform. Also, Republic is hosting two investor calls this week (Wednesday & Friday). Join the calls at http://events.shindig.com/event/republic-raceya and http://events.shindig.com/event/republic-ffab to find out more about Republic and two of its crowdfunding companies, RaceYa and Farm From A Box.