Insights from Innovators
Over the years, we’ve had clients from across the US complete a wide variety of capital raises. We followed up with a few of them to hear about their experiences and the advice they would offer other businesses considering a public raise.
Mission Driven Finance and Its Guiding Principles
Mission Driven Finance is an impact investment firm dedicated to building a financial system that ensures good businesses have sufficient, affordable access to capital. Built from the ground up with a single purpose—to make it easy to invest in your community—all our funds and structured products are designed to close financial gaps that will close opportunity gaps. We work with local and national investors to help them create the impact they want, and work with businesses and community partners to help them get the capital they need.
We have three guiding principles:
Community Connected Capital – We use a network mindset to source, underwrite, and support investments. This helps us build solutions for and with the community.
Employers as Change Agents – Impact isn’t just for nonprofits. We believe small businesses are critical components of thriving communities, and help them to intentionally use their operating expenses to create positive change.
Strength in Diversity – We’re stronger together, as a team and as a society. Diversity is not an afterthought for us but rather core to our ability to source deal flow and underwrite effectively. With a variety of lived and worked experiences, the team is collectively able to recognize untapped market opportunities and partner sensitively with traditionally underserved communities, supporting our vision of an inclusive economy that is strong and resilient.
Read the entire interview with Mission Driven Finance on our blog.
Boston Residents Create Well-Paid Sustainable Jobs
CERO Cooperative is a worker-owned cooperative on a mission to encourage composting and create jobs in the low-income Boston neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, and East Boston. It’s a small but unusually diverse team: two of the five worker-owners are African-American, two are Latinas, and one is white. Setting the minimum investment in their DPO at just $2,500 (open to any resident of Massachusetts) by the end of the year CERO had raised the $100,000 they needed to go into a bank for a loan. In January 2015 they did just that, receiving a $100,000 line of credit from the Cooperative Fund of New England.
Listen to our interview with CERO here.
From a Private Business to Worker-Owned Co-op
How can an owner sell a growing, highly profitable business to the workers when they can’t pay what the business is worth? With our help, Real Pickles raised $500,000 in just two month through a Direct Public Offering, or DPO, in which it sold non-voting preferred stock to investors in Vermont and Massachusetts. Real Pickles was able to convert to a worker-owned co-op — instead of leaving the business, the former owners became equal co-owners, with more time for life. Read the detailed case study.
Small Town Newspaper Uses Readers to Raise Capital
We sat down with Rollie Atkinson of Sonoma West Publishers to discuss the small town newspaper’s 2018 Direct Public Offering. Atkinson shared some of the challenges his company faced and provided key advice for other groups considering a DPO. Here’s a snippet of what he had to say:
What is Sonoma West’s mission?
Sonoma West Publishers is a small newspaper group devoted to local community news coverage, a mission we have been following for 154 years. Each of our four newspapers is actually older than the incorporated cities they cover.
Why did you choose to do a direct public offering (DPO) to raise capital for the fund?
The DPO funding model allows for a broad base of local and smaller community investors. Readers and local businesses gain an extra connection and added sense of pride in the local newspaper. The DPO structure is superior to seeking a commercial bank loan or taking on larger minority partners. The structure also allows for continued independence for our editorial voice.
Read the full interview with Sonoma West here.
TechSoup Pioneers Path to SVX US Platform
In 2018, we worked with TechSoup to launch the first ever Reg A+ nonprofit offering. The raise is also the first offering hosted on the svx.us.com platform. TechSoup was able to reach over 70% of its $11 million goal in the first year.
We spoke with Ken Tsunoda, Vice President of Development, to discuss how they achieved this success and why they felt it was important to offer unaccredited investment opportunities at amounts as low as $50.
Listen to the interview as Ken provides advice for other nonprofits interested in a DPO and what’s next on the horizon for his organization.
Five Years Ago, PVGrows Launched An Investment Fund – What Now?
In the fertile Pioneer Valley on Western Massachusetts, PVGrows has been operating an investment fund since 2015. PVGrows is a network of agricultural businesses, consumers and stakeholders who care about their network and the flourishing of regional food systems.
After working with PV Grows in 2015 to set-up an investment fund, we caught up with PVGrows Fund Coordinator, Rebecca Busansky, to reflect on what her team has learned during their DPO and what they are planning next.
Read about their experiences in this interview from September 2018.