Beginning this week, crowdfunding platform Indiegogo is letting businesses offer equity stakes to the public—not just perks like T-shirts or free food. The change follows new regulations that allow people of all income levels to become investors. Previously, only “accredited investors”—individuals who make $200,000 a year or have a net worth of at least $1 million—could financially back and potentially get profits from private companies.
Among the first four businesses worldwide to launch on the new equity platform is Ivy City distillery Republic Restoratives. Before it opened in May, founders Pia Carusone and Rachel Gardner raised $119,643 from over 600 backers through Indiegogo’s regular crowdfunding platform.
Carusone says they’ve already invested just over a million dollars into the distillery, but they still need more capital. They hope to use the funds to expand their product line, expand distribution, develop the brand, and more.
“We always knew we would need more capital but we didn’t know where we would go to first and when,” Carusone says. “Otherwise, we might not have started this early looking for more capital, but this is such an awesome chance.”
Republic Restoratives is now seeking between $50,000 and $300,000 and has already raised over $7,000 from 30 investors. (The distillery has to reach $50,000 to get any of the money.) Investors can put in anywhere from $100 to $25,000. The distillery will then distribute 10 percent of its revenue to the crowdfunded backers up until they’re repaid 1.5 times their initial investment. So, if you invest $100, you won’t be repaid more than $150. The distillery is also offer perks, including invites to parties and booze.
Indiegogo (along with its partner MicroVentures) is not the first crowdfunding platform to experiment with equity investments in small increments. Locally, EquityEats, which specializes in raising money for restaurants, used to offer the same thing. But the company changed course last fall due to the paperwork involved and the fact that people mostly invested because they wanted to eat at the restaurants. Now, EquityEats offers food and drink credit and other perks rather than equity.