Fundraising Tips from Dan Fireside, Capital Coordinator at Equal Exchange

Fundraising Tips from Dan Fireside, Capital Coordinator at Equal Exchange

Equal Exchange is a worker-cooperative that sells Fair Trade coffee, chocolate, and other staples.  They created a revolutionary way of raising money from investors.  Investors receive non-voting preferred stock, and if the co-op is ever sold, any excess revenues would go to another Fair Trade organization.  Investors make money via annual dividends, and Equal Exchange actually has to turn investors away.  They currently have about 550 investors and have sold over $17M in preferred stock.  

Dan’s job is to raise capital and manage investor relations.  Dan says that now is a great time to raise capital because, based on his experience, when Wall Street crashes, investors become more aware of the importance of investing in alignment with their values.

Dan has learned from experience that the most important way to cultivate investment is by building relationships with values-aligned people.  When talking to potential investors, remind them that all investment is risky, but at the end of the day, whether you make money on your investment or lose it all, it’s nice to feel good about what your money is doing in the world.  

When Wall Street crashes, investors become more aware of the importance of investing in alignment with their values.

Once you have investors, you have to communicate with them and not just send them a check each year.  Help them see why they should be excited about their investment.  Tell stories about your impact—be as specific as possible.  Click here for an example of what Equal Exchange sends to their investors.

Keep building relationships with your investors.  If you’re ever in trouble, they will be the first ones to support you.

If you’d like to learn more about raising capital using the same principles as Equal Exchange, click here for information on our upcoming online book study of Raise Capital on Your Own Terms: How to Fund Your Business without Selling Your Soul.

Angels of Main Street is one year old and growing fast!

Angels of Main Street is one year old and growing fast!

A little over a year ago, Crowdfund Mainstreet CEO Michelle Thimesch and I had a crazy idea—create an angel group for EVERYBODY!

The traditional definition of an angel investor is a wealthy person who invests their own money in startups. There are groups all over the country where angels gather to support each other with finding and making investments. To join these groups a person must meet the definition under federal law of an accredited investor (minimum of $200,000 in annual income or $1 million in net worth, excluding their primary residence).

Angels of Main Street was formed so that EVERYONE could be part of an angel group—there is no minimum wealth or income requirement. AMS currently has almost 70 members who collectively invested over $500,000 in small businesses in 2019. Investment amounts ranged from $500 to $25,000.

It’s easy to join Angels of Main Street. Just pay the one-time membership fee, commit to investing at least $500 per year in businesses you care about, and join us for our calls, events, and learning opportunities.

For details, visit https://www.angelsofmainstreet.com, or feel free to email info@jennykassan.com if you have any questions.

Major changes for maximum impact

Major changes for maximum impact

Dear Community,

This is my last blog post for 2019, and I want to thank you for all your support this year. As we work to change the face of investment in our country, your outpouring of love for our amazing entrepreneur clients, and of course your investments in them, mean everything to us!

2019 was a year of major change for Jenny Kassan Consulting. For the first time we didn’t do our signature training event, Fund and Fuel Your Dreams, because it felt like we were being called to serve in a different way.

It was time to acknowledge that raising significant investment dollars, for many entrepreneurs, is an undertaking that requires an extremely high level of support—coaching, legal services, support with communications, and help with connecting to the right investors. While a three-day training is a great start, it barely scratches the surface of what is needed to meaningfully support an entrepreneur with fundraising. Plus, now that my book is published, everything we taught at the event is easily accessible without the need to attend a three-day live event.

So, in 2019 we focused our efforts on one-on-one client services, allowing us to address each individual client’s unique goals and challenges and to bring the right resources to the table.

We also put more energy than ever into cultivating the investor side of the equation. With such amazing entrepreneur clients, the obvious next step was to leverage the relationships we already have with “outside-the-box” investors and to encourage connections between investors and our clients. We do this through our WeCapital Community—where we connect our current and former female clients with investors—and also through Angels of Main Street—a community of angel investors that is open to people anywhere in the US regardless of wealth or income.

In its first year, the Angels of Main Street have already moved several hundred thousand dollars into direct investments in mission-driven companies.

In 2020, we will continue 1) to focus on providing highly customized services for entrepreneurs who want to raise investment capital on their own terms and 2) to grow the movement of investors wanting to learn how to move their money into ventures they love.

We hope you’ll stay involved—here’s what you can do:

· Follow us on social media

· Join Angels of Main Street

· Invest on Crowdfund Mainstreet

· Buy and gift my book here

· Refer entrepreneurs to us here

· Continue to read our newsletter and encourage friends to join our mailing list by going to our website

Thank you again for your support and encouragement!

~ Jenny

Go Ahead, Get Invested! The power of community investing

Go Ahead, Get Invested! The power of community investing

Local businesses are the touchstone of our communities. And in the last decade, social entrepreneurship and community investing have moved from fringe experiments to mainstream ideas. Together, there’s more opportunity than ever for community members to support, participate, and potentially share the benefit of the success of main street businesses. 

In case you missed it, you can watch the video replay from an event we recently attended in Los Angeles called Go Ahead, Get Invested!—an engaging evening of conversation and ideas for action around the power of community investing.  Click here to watch the video replay.

2019 Social Venture Circle Conference Highlights

2019 Social Venture Circle Conference Highlights

I have been attending Social Venture Circle (fka Social Venture Network) conferences for about 10 years, and they never disappoint. These conferences attract business and finance leaders of all ages to discuss how business and investing can transform our world and hasten the arrival of the “next economy”—one that provides health, happiness, and sustainable prosperity for all.

One of the highlights of the 2019 conference was a conversation between SVC Executive Director Valerie Red-Horse Mohl and Anand Giridharadas, author of Winners Take All.

Anand’s book was difficult for many in the impact investing and social enterprise space to read. Anand called out changemakers for “falling prey to . . . a belief in ‘changing the world’ in ways that tend to keep it the same, in using the tools of hypercapitalism to soften its blows, all while refusing to question the system generating the problems.”

Presentations by Morgan Simon, Diana Marie Lee, Taij Kumarie Moteelall, Hope Lehman, Nathalie Molina Niño, Derek Razo, and many more (including me!) provided glimpses of what a truly just, sustainable, and regenerative economy and financial system would look like.

While it is true that some who call themselves impact investors are doing more harm than good by providing a fig leaf of respectability for rapacious, extractive finance, many speakers at the SVC conference delved into the hard questions and put forth radical ideas—exactly what is needed in this time of growing wealth inequality, economic insecurity, and political disengagement.

Stop Bootstrapping, Stop Leaning In, and Organize

Stop Bootstrapping, Stop Leaning In, and Organize

It used to be that only men were called entrepreneurs.1 But women have been entrepreneurs for a long time.2 We have opened and run businesses out of necessity, passion, and genius. We’ve had to do it while caring for children and prior to having the right to vote. We started businesses back when we could not take out a loan without a man, and we are still starting businesses while earning 80% of what men earn.3 Maybe we weren’t called entrepreneurs, but we were doing it anyway: because we needed to, because we cared, because we knew we had it in us, or because our ideas were just too good.

Today, more and more women are launching businesses4—and this is good for everyone. As of 2017, woman-led enterprises employed nearly nine million people in the US.5 One international survey found that women are more likely to engage in entrepreneurship that has an environmental or social mission.6 More than one study has indicated that women-led businesses produce greater returns for investors.7

But, somehow, women are getting way less investment funding than men. Way less! In 2018, only 2.3% of venture capital investments went to female-founded startups.8 This isn’t necessarily because women aren’t trying (as some people claim). It turns out (surprise) that more than 90% of investment partners in venture capital firms are men,9 and (you guessed it), men prefer to invest in other men.10 One research team believes this is due to “outright sexism (explicit or implicit) [or] more subtle things, such as a desire by male investors to mentor founders who remind them of themselves.”11 Another study concluded that “[w]omen do face bias in terms of the masculine stereotype held by the majority of the male dominated investment community: during the pitch, women should ‘act’ like men and indicate masculine behaviors or they may be penalized by investor audiences for not having the qualities they believe to be consistent with entrepreneurship.”12 By contrast, according to a TechCrunch report, “[t]here is clear evidence . . . that the small number of venture firms with female founders and/or an unusually high percentage of female partners invest at elevated levels in female entrepreneurs.”13

It’s possible that adding more women to the VC mix could help balance things out.14 But maybe, for those of us who want to build a new economy, this is not the best use of our energy. As Jenny pointed out last month, the VC model is designed to enrich a few wealthy people, and it perpetuates inequality regardless of the identity of the founders that get funded.

And anyway, until the VCs include more women, assuming that will help, what are women entrepreneurs going to do? They can (a) struggle in silence and bootstrap their businesses (find out what that is and why it’s a problem here); (b) try to act more like men and lean in at meetings with VCs (which might not help much according to Michelle Obama and a bunch of other people);15 or (c) they can get off those treadmills, organize for their common goals, and do something more productive.

Women, let’s (c), get organized. Why wait for male VCs to finally decide we are worthy? We—and our mothers and grandmothers—didn’t wait for anyone to tell us we could be entrepreneurs.

Here are some suggestions. Business owners or not, we can:

  1. Invest in women-owned businesses that share our values. Investment crowdfunding platforms are a great place to start. They are easy to browse, and anyone—regardless of wealth—is allowed to invest at least something (there is a weird sliding scale based on income and net worth that you should know about). Check out these female-led, mission-driven companies on Crowdfund Mainstreet.
  2. Join investor communities that prioritize women-owned businesses. Angels of Main Street is open to everyone and is a place to learn about investing in mission-driven enterprises and be introduced to companies currently raising capital, including many led by women.
  3. Tell other women to do (1) and (2).

Are you a woman entrepreneur focused on raising capital for your business? Do you want to connect with legal and capital-raising experts and join a mastermind group of like-minded, badass female founders? Please join us at our July 2019 Retreat—Be A Money Magnet—to step into your power and get the RIGHT funding for your business.

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