Early-Stage Landscape

By David Verrill, Chair of ACA’s Public Policy Committee

Ten days ago, I took a trip to Washington, DC with ACA executive director Marianne Hudson and our government affairs team of Chris McCannell and Greg Mesack from Eris Group.  It was an interesting three days, with a combination of planning our policy work for the year, meeting with other associations with overlapping interests, and ten meetings on Capitol Hill.  This was the week after the inauguration of President Trump, and you could see a lot of change in our nation’s capital.  Here is what I learned:

Comprehensive Tax Reform

Comprehensive tax reform is coming (after Congress deals with the repeal and replacement of Obamacare), with the goal of having it done by August 1.  Most believe that the House will follow blueprints by Paul Ryan and former Ways & Means chair Dave Camp as the basis to build on, with the following features:

By: Angela Jackson is an ACA Board Member and Chairs the “Grassroots Group” for ACA members interested in interacting with Members of Congress.  Want to join?  Shoot Angela an email.

Exciting things are happening in Washington, DC relative to advancing the ACA legislative agenda - and we're requesting your immediate help.

Call to Action - by Monday January 9!

ACA just got word that the House of Representatives plans to vote on the HALOS Act next week.  HALOS (Helping Angels Lead Our Startups) exempts demo days from general solicitation rules, meaning that companies that participate in any type of demo day would no longer need to worry about taking extra steps to verify investors are accredited – unless they are going the solicitation 506(c) way.  And angels who prefer to invest in private deals would have better assurances that companies had not tripped the general solicitation trigger.  The bill, HR 79, has great bi-partisan sponsors:  leads Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and co-sponsors Andy Barr (R-KY), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), John Delaney (D-MD), Randy Hultgren (R-IL), Jared Polis (D-CO), Pete Sessions (R-TX), and Ann Wagner (R-MO).

By: Marianne Hudson, ACA Executive Director

This post originally appeared on Forbes.com

One of the best parts of being an angel investor is supporting companies after you invest.  And now angels have a new support tool in our pockets for portfolio companies – a new federal tax benefit that can add up to $250,000 per year for these young businesses.  This is real money for startups – and better yet, it is totally non-dilutive to angel investor equity!

I learned about the Federal Research and Experimentation Tax Credit and how it will change for qualified startups at a recent meeting of the Angel Capital Association and I think it is important to get this news to as many angels and entrepreneurs as possible, so they can benefit as soon as possible.  Cash is short for angel-backed companies, so finding extra money – especially of this size - is really important.

By David Verrill, Managing Director of Hub Investment Group 

Many angels have noticed the unique capabilities of entrepreneurs from outside the US to build great companies. Now, finally, so has the American federal government (noting that our colleague Canadians have been all over this for some time).  The Department of Homeland Security released rules that would allow more foreign born entrepreneurs to stay in the US longer to grow their companies.  One of the main requirements is for angels or VCs to invest in their companies.  The rules will become final after a review of comments to the first public draft. 

By Chris McCannell, Partner at Eris Group

Editor’s Note:  ACA wants to share with our members our progress in Washington.  It’s an important use of member dues, and we believe it is worth every penny.  We work with Eris Group on American public policy issues, and have had great results in the last year – from a 100% exemption on investment gains to House passage of bills that would ensure that demo days are not included in general solicitation and increasing the number of investors in an angel fund or syndicate from 99 to 249.  With Eris Group, ACA has also helped move the conversation about the definition of accredited investor to a more positive one (in angels’ view), and we are now regularly sought out by Members of Congress and other organizations for input and support of legislation and policy issues.

ACA learned in 2010 that Congress and regulators could have a huge impact on angel investors and the startups angels support.  ACA was able to ensure Dodd-Frank didn’t increase the financial thresholds for the accredited investor definition then, but the association learned it needed help from DC professionals to protect angels through that experience.

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

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.)

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