The startup world will perk up to hear that RockthePost and CoFoundersLab recently merged to form Onevest. Together the two companies will provide a single source for startup founders to not only find investors but also find the right co-founders all online.
A Bit of History
First, there were two separate companies. Alejandro Cremades and Tanya Prive noticed a lack of structure in how startups secured early stage financing. If you live in Silicon Valley then sure, you technically had more access to investors than someone in say, Little Rock, Arkansas. But that made the playing field uneven. That doesn’t even take into account how much competition there is to get a single investor’s money.
So in 2011, after watching a few friends’ business ventures shut down due to lack of funding, Cremades and Prive launched RockthePost. If you’re familiar with crowdfunding, you get the idea. Startups could connect with investors online, rather than having to meet with them in person.
At the same time, Shahab Kaviani was devising a platform to help startup founders build out their teams. Since a third of startups fail due to issues with the founding team, he wanted to develop a scientific approach that would match people based on different interests and qualities – and CoFoundersLab was born.
From there, it was only natural that the two should find one another. Last week, the two companies announced their merger to form OneVest.
Not Your Son’s Kickstarter
In looking at OneVest, you immediately see parallels with crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter. But there are some key differences. First of all, the companies seeking funding are typically looking for more investment than what Kaviani calls “rewards-based crowdfunding” (anyone who invests and gets a reward, such as a t-shirt). In a recent email interview, Kaviani told Small Business Trends:
“Equity crowdfunding is a regulated industry, where your investment earns you equity into the company, and the upside that a liquidity event presents…If someone wants to be an investor, it’s up to the founder to decide who to accept investments from. Where we assist, is once an investor expresses interest, we ensure that the investor is an Accredited Investor, as defined by the SEC.”
So just how does the SEC define an Accredited Investor? Glad you asked. An Accredited Investor must meet at least one of these requirements:
- A person with an income exceeding $200,000 or joint income with a spouse of $300,000 over the past two years.
- A person with a net worth exceeding $1,000,000 individually, excluding the primary residence.
- A person who is a general partner, executive officer, director, or related combination for the issuer of a security being offered.
- An institution with over $5,000,000 in assets.
All investors have to submit to a background check and review process before they are approved for official investment in a private company. Even then, the startup founders get to decide who they accept funding from through OneVest.
“Now that the implementation of Title III of the JOBS Act is around the corner and that all Americans will be allowed to invest in startups, we feel this merger will certainly help Onevest to provide an outstanding service to its growing user base.”
No More Bad Business Partnerships?
The other half of the Onevest equation is its innovative approach to helping startup founders build teams. After all, whether you’re looking for a co-founder or engineers for your fledgling startup, bringing on the wrong people can guarantee certain disaster. So it’s important to find a good fit. If you don’t have local resources, Onevest can help you pair up with people that complement your skillset and personality.
What’s interesting is that Onevest brought on advisors from Match.com (certainly experts in algorithmic pairing), as well as a team dedicated to understanding co-founder dynamics (with the help of research funded by the Kauffman Foundation).
Search for someone to join your team, and you can see how compatible that person is to your own skillset, as well as see what archetype they are, how much time they have to commit to your startup, and what their interests are.
The Future for Startups
Onevest may very well change the landscape for startups. It’s already one of the largest equity crowdfunding platforms — with over 35,000 startup founders and more than 15,000 investors registered.
Why would you do business in person, wasting time and energy only to not be guaranteed you’ll get funded, when you can review investment offers from your office?