Traklight featured in The Soho Loft Webinar Series

The Soho Loft and Efactor present a series of webinars by the the Top 100 Crowdfunders. Read more about Traklight’s CEO being featured at Meet the Top 100 Crowdfunders. Tips on business planning for crowdfunding are included in the reprinted blog below.

Equity crowdfunding under the JOBS Act (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) is not yet legal but reward, donation, or perk based crowdfunding, think Kickstarter, Indiegogo or RocketHub, have been very active over the past couple of years.

Raising money either as a donation to a cause, by offering a reward in the form of a special event, or early access to a product are both common and legal forms of crowdfunding. The Pebble watch campaign raised over $10 million dollars but that was an anomaly in terms of dollars raised. The watch was the reward and the funders financed its production.

In contrast, the “reward” under equity crowdfunding will be an ownership interest in the business. Equity shares will be issued instead of a watch or a donation and the person will become a shareholder. Under equity crowdfunding, there will be limits on the amount that the average person can invest based. However satisfying the income thresholds for accredited investors, the lowest being $250,000, will not be required.

Equity crowdfunding is not legal until the SEC promulgates the rules. In the meantime, companies interested in crowdfunding should start preparing now. Many of the requirements are good practices for any business and necessary for accessing capital, regardless of the source.

The JOBS Act outlines some items that will be necessary to pursue equity crowdfunding(1):

1. Company must be registered and incorporated in the US;
2. Names of the Directors, Officers, and any Shareholder with more than 20% of ownership;
3. Business Description and Business Plan;
4. Financial Statements with varying levels of attestation depending on the amount of money being raised;
5. Prior year Tax Returns;
6. Goal for Capital Raise and Target Dates (progress updates are also required);
7. Planned Use of Capital Raised;
8. Share Price and methodology for determining share prices;
9. Detailed information on the Ownership and Capital Structure, including terms for the shares being offered under crowdfunding; and
10. Terms of any other outstanding shares and the differences between those outstanding and those being offered.

It’s a long list and certainly not exhaustive because the SEC may add more requirements to protect investors and the public.

Business Plan Requirement

First, having a current business plan is important to any business but much of the current startup or small business advice is to create a business model instead. This allows the flexibility to pivot. Some examples include the Business Model Canvas(2) and the Lean Canvas.(3)

Alexander Osterwalder’s book Business Model Ontology outlined the Business Model Canvas for both startups and businesses. The Canvas is now available in an online format. Ash Maurya has created a derivative called the Lean Canvas, which is for early stage startups or inventions with a problem/solution focus. While these are excellent online tools, business plans for equity crowdfunding purposes will likely be much more involved.

Second, anyone who has done a full-blown business plan realizes that often the plan is out of date shortly after completion. The exercise of discussing and modeling the business is often where the value lies for the company. However, for crowdfunding that business plan will have to be available to potential investors and must be up to date. Online business plans rather than models will be the way to proceed so that the contents can easily be updated. Check out the Crowfundingroadmap site for an example of the virtual business plan.

Finally, the contents of the business plan will be displayed on the Internet. This means that you should not disclose your secret sauce or too much information on your products or process to imperil your Intellectual Property rights . Although most entrepreneurs know that success lies in the team and execution, it is good business sense to protect your ideas appropriately and avoid accidentally disclosing too much.

The list above is daunting, especially for those who have used rewards based crowdfunding. However, with proper planning, companies can be ready for equity crowdfunding as they advance their businesses.

(1) Thank you to www.crowdfundingroadmap.com for the minimum requirements list.
(2) Visit the website for more information on http://www.businessmodelgeneration.com/canvas.
(3) http://canvanizer.com/how-to-use/business-model-canvas-vs-lean-canvas includes all the tools.

Originally published at Return on Change.

MERGE: Your True Passion with your Profession

An exciting 2 day conference is taking place in Culver City, CA this upcoming weekend on March 2nd & 3rd. Tatjana Luethi and Jose Callaber are the co-creator dynamos behind MERGE, a conference for women who want to merge profession and passion. Find out more at: MERGE CONFERENCE. and read below for Tatjana’s inspiring story.

Imagine you grow up in a world that is famous for chocolate, cheese, bread and the banking system. So, you mold yourself into a chocolate-cheese-bread eating Swiss banker. However, at some point in life you seek something deeper, more meaningful and authentic than what meets the eye. I’ve always wondered what lies beyond my social and cultural conditioning? And what happens when you step into that zone that lives deep beneath the surface inside your own authentic essence?

It’s this kind of curiosity living at the center of my core, that has propelled me forward into all kinds of adventures. I’ve moved across continents and I’ve switched careers, I’ve started and co-founded companies, I’ve initiated women’s groups and gatherings, I’ve been involved in real estate and built an environmentally-conscious home with my husband, and I’ve always enjoyed organizing and hosting varies events with focus on environmental and social consciousness. So, you know, life has been interesting, yet definitely I’ve also experienced its ups and downs, and many doubts. However, one thing remained the same: I’m a big advocate for justice and equality, authentic and genuine interactions, generating a healthy culture, and promoting corporate social responsibility & environmentally sustainable business practices. Regardless of where I am, or whom I’m with, you’ll definitely get a dose of that.

After the economic crash in 2008 and the crippling of our society, I was embarking on another deep inner journey; questioning, pondering and reflecting not only upon myself but also upon our society, our economy, well the entire paradigm we live in. What does it mean to “exist”? What does it mean “to be” when old structures of society fall apart? What happens to you and your identity when the very same structures and systems derail, those that we have derived and formed our identity from? How do you build and contribute to a new, sustainable system, society and economy, while the old one is crippling away under its own weight?

Well, long story short, I was on a new quest. Not only was I driven to find out, but also, I made a pact with myself to no longer sell my soul to the corporate world. In 2010 I came across a series of recorded interviews called “Women On The Edge Of Evolution” facilitated by Claire Zammit and Katherine Woodward Thomas. A year later I enrolled in some of the courses they offered around self-growth and self-development. I have been an active student ever since. This has resulted in my initiating and launching a local women’s group with other students and coaches from the same organization who share similar ideas and visions as I do.

In 2012 I contacted Jose Caballer from The Skool, whom I knew from Art Center College of Design, the design school we both graduated from. I expressed to him that I want to switch my career from being a traditional print and packaging designer, into a User Experience designer (also known as UX Design). I related to him that I resonate with the user-centered approach, as it seems to be of a more holistic, human-focused method as to how, or rather, as to why we design a product or service. Therefore, I’d like to explore this approach and its power to gauge, influence, and cause social change. In other words, how can I utilize the UX approach in combination with technology to impact people, their behavior, their lifestyle, and especially, their belief system? I also mentioned that I recognized women were joining these women’s courses in growing numbers, looking to express a deep desire to contribute to a positive change in the world. I wondered, how do you channel deep values as such, and manifest them into a new system, a new economy, a new government, a new paradigm? The structure was somehow missing that which would allow the baby to enter the world.

A few weeks later I started working with Jose at The Skool. Our partnership and collaboration evolved pretty quickly. He invited me to be part of his online show called “This Week In Web Design”, and I sat in on all of his online classes. A few months into it, I was blown away by what I discovered. Here it was, the “structure”, the process, the method that would bridge the gap between a deep inner value, and manifesting those into the external world. It appeared to me that Jose and his teachings represented the midwife that would allow for those values to be birthed and manifested into the world. Finally, after 10 months of pregnancy, the baby could be born!

So here we are, launching, producing, and hosting our very first conference together called MERGE! A 2-day conference for women who desire to merge their personal and professional experience and background with a meaningful, purpose-driven and prosperous livelihood as a creative expression and vehicle that makes a profound contribution and difference in the the lives of others and our society.

This is what I stand for, not only for myself, but also as a model for other women, enabling and facilitating them in their own unique creative self-expression and leadership. We are in a time where we can no longer afford to be shy, timid, doubtful, or invisible! It’s time to step forward, and embrace our unique feminine values, attributes, and qualities, so as to heal and re-balance a world in flux! It is critical for us women to embrace our own authentic power and wisdom, in order to contribute to the creation of a new kind of culture and leadership!

This is why I’m producing MERGE! I’m doing it from a deeper space of my own unique and authentic contribution, as a higher form of creative expression that goes beyond the local, small self. I’m doing it for a better and healthier tomorrow, for you, for me, for all of us, and certainly for the generations to come.

Please join me in that collective vision on March 2nd and 3rd 2013 in West Los Angeles and explore with me what happens when you utilize your authentic creative self-expression with a deep sense of relatedness and understanding for the unmet needs of our world.

Reprinted with permission from Tatjana Luethi.

Startup Lessons Learned: A 40-Something First-Time Entrepreneur – Women 2.0

The following blog post first appeared on Women 2.0 but we reprinted it here because it’s the Traklight story and some decent lessons learned from Traklight’s Founder.

Continue reading “Startup Lessons Learned: A 40-Something First-Time Entrepreneur – Women 2.0”