Accredited Investors

Matt Dunbar contributed to this article. He is the co-founder of the South Carolina Angel Network and managing director of the Upstate Carolina Angel Network.

This post originally appeared in Upstate Business Journal.

Risky business

Investing in startups is not for the faint of heart. These businesses are just beginning to develop, and their expenses typically exceed their revenue. In fact, most of them will fail.

But you could find yourself sitting on a goldmine. Case in point: Andy Bechtolsheim, co-founder of Sun Microsystems. He invested about $100,000 in Google just months after founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin created the tech giant in their garage.

Bechtolsheim is now worth about $3 billion. That could be you.

By: Marianne Hudson, ACA Executive Director

Ever wonder how your investment activity and background compares to other angels in the US?  Take The American Angel survey to put in your information and get early access to detailed reports to learn more. 

ACA is partnering with Wharton Entrepreneurship to develop the first ever large dataset of US angel investors to understand who angels are demographically, how they became angel investors, how angels make decisions, and what level and type of investment activity they have.  The project should benefit angels as an asset class as it brings more visibility to angels, supports a stronger early-stage investing environment, and lead to better public policies to support angel investing and innovative startups.  It just might refute a lot of assumptions about angel investors that are incorrect.

By: Marianne Hudson, ACA Executive Director

Are you an accredited angel investor?  We need ten minutes of your time to make a big difference for startup investing.  Please take this confidential survey to help us understand who angel investors are, how they became angels, and what factors influence their investing activity.

Today ACA and Wharton Entrepreneurship announced a partnership to complete the first-ever comprehensive demographic study of angel investors across the U.S.  We believe this study will help identify characteristics of angel investors that have never before been understood. It is critical for entrepreneurs, economic development entities, private market makers, regulators and legislators to understand who angel investors are, in order to drive effective policies to ensure a robust angel investing marketplace and for startups to better access equity capital.

By: Marianne Hudson, ACA Executive Director

Many angels, startups, VCs and the startup ecosystem have asked for more clarity about demo days for a couple years now.  These events seem to meet the definition of “general solicitation” and most investors don’t want to invest in companies that publicly advertise, but they have seen demo days as an important part of our world for decades.  The confusion may get clarity because of the work of a bi-partisan group of Members of Congress.

The Angel Capital Association supports HR 4498, the Helping Angels Lead Our Startups Act (HALOS Act) and want to thank Reps. Chabot, Sinema, Hurt and Takai for introducing this bi-partisan bill last week.  We believe the HALOS Act helps more job-creating startup companies raise the funding they need because it removes a barrier to funding.  There has already been discussed in a hearing of the House Financial Services and could be on a positive track.  A similar bill is also in the Senate, with bi-partisan sponsors as well.)

By: William Carleton, Counselor @ Law, and volunteer chair of ACA Public Policy Advisory Council

Yes, there's Title III under the JOBS Act, promising equity crowdfunding (think Kickstarter or IndieGoGo, just not restricted to awards or products, but instead offering ownership in the company); yes, there's Reg A+, also bequeathed by the JOBS Act; and there are a plethora, now, of state crowdfunding laws that lower the bar to who may invest in private companies.

By: Villette Nolon and Heather Krejci, Angel Capital Association

Yesterday’s (January 13, 2106) ACA webinar on Investor and Entrepreneur Experiences with Accredited Investing Platforms was a great kickoff to the year. When you watch the recording, you will see why a record number of investors attended.  The accredited platform space is growing exponentially and the rules are changing rapidly.  Highlights of this timely webinar include:

By: Marianne Hudson, ACA Executive Director

December 18 was a very big day for angel investors.  Not only did the SEC put out a staff report that recommends tweaks to the accredited investor definition, but Congress passed a big tax act that makes permanent the 100% exemption of capital gains.  Here’s what you need to know in connected blog posts:

Accredited Investor Definition – A mix of gifts and lumps of coal in our stockings

Not far from the US Capitol Building, the SEC quietly released a report from its staff on the Accredited Investor definition on the same day.  As many angels will remember, the SEC is required to study the definition by Congress in the Dodd-Frank Act.  Time will tell if this staff report fully addresses the requirement or if it informs future rulemaking by SEC Commissioners.

To ACA’s delight, some of the recommendations in the report actually match what our leadership has suggested in multiple meetings and letters, such as allowing people who are sophisticated but don’t meet financial thresholds to be accredited.  As in many things, however, there are also some recommendations in the report that are different than most angels would like.  All in all, the SEC staff’s report could have been much worse – for instance it does not include increasing financial thresholds for income to $450,000 and wealth to $2.5 million as some organizations advocated.

By: William Carleton, Counselor @ Law, and volunteer chair of ACA Public Policy Advisory Council

The following is adapted from remarks prepared for the Angel Capital Association's 2015 Angel Insights Exchange, held in New Orleans the week of November 9. Bill is the volunteer chair of an advisory council to the ACA, but the views he expresses below are personal to him, and not a reflection of ACA views or policy.  This post originally appeared on Counselor @ Law.

As we all know, Dodd-Frank (2010) and the JOBS Act (2012) brought big changes to the rules that govern what’s okay and what’s not okay in the world of federal exemptions from securities registration requirements.

**This post originally appeared on "The Hill" on March 3, 2015.**

By: Chris McCannell, director of APCO Worldwide’s Washington DC financial service practice and government relations. He has over 15 years of Capitol Hill experience working for Members of Congress on the Financial Service Committee and the tax writing Ways and Means Committee. He and his colleagues have been ACA’s registered lobbyist for the past two and a half years. Chris is an active participant in ACA’s programming including national events like this week’s Leadership Workshop.

The conversation around implementation and rulemaking of the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform legislation, which became law in 2010, has been focused on issues such as margin requirements for derivatives, bans on proprietary trading (the Volcker Rule) and other bank centric capital standards. Lost in the debate is a little known part of the legislation which requires the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to revisit the definition of an accredited investor. A change in this industry wide definition could have drastic impact on capital formation, start-up growth, and ultimately American jobs.

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