Originally published at Entrepreneur.com on January 10, 2017
Donald Trump will soon be inaugurated as the country’s 45th president and will potentially impact the burgeoning crowdfunding industry in a "yuge" way. Before I share my thoughts as one of the country’s top crowdfunding attorneys, let me tell you what five industry leaders believe the Trump presidency will mean for crowdfunding.
Disclaimer: This is NOT a political article. For those on the right, please don’t send me red baseball caps embroidered with “Make Crowdfunding Great Again.” For those on the left, please do not label me or the crowdfunding leaders in this article as “deplorable” or worse.
Indiegogo has been at the forefront of rewards crowdfunding since the very beginning. Indiegogo’s co-founder and Chief Business Officer, Slava Rubin, had this to say: "It's obviously impossible to know exactly how the next four years will play out since the new administration hasn't moved into the White House yet. Trump's platform included easing up on banking regulations -- which the stock market has reacted well to -- and it will be interesting to see how that translates for equity crowdfunding. The one year anniversary of Title III is coming up this May, so that will be a good time to examine what kind of progress has been made under the new administration."
RocketHub was one of the world's pioneering crowdfunding portals and has developed into a global community for entrepreneurial growth through a partnership with luxury lifestyle network ELEQT. RocketHub's CEO Ruud Smeets shared his take on the Trump presidency.
“Any abrupt change in the political landscape is a challenge and can have ripple effects throughout one's business," Smeets said. "Having a strong support 'crowd' can be a great benefit to any entrepreneur, especially in times of change. The emerging Trump presidency may create more volatility, but it also holds the promise of potentially bringing less regulation and more freedom for innovation and entrepreneurship. That would be good news for alternative funding options like crowdfunding, which still is a highly regulated market space with certain barriers to growth. It remains to be seen though how Trump’s plans on healthcare, international trade, isolationism and any attendant currency effects will affect small business ownership as a whole.”
Roy Morejon, whose firm Command Partners has been one of the most prolific and successful PR and marketing agencies in the crowdfunding space said the initial effects of a Trump presidency seem to be positive for the crowdfunding industry. Recent meetings with top technology leaders from Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Intel and Tesla seemed to be productive with innovation and jobs being a top priority.
"With Trump's business background, American innovation and job creation should flourish," Morejon said. "At our crowdfunding marketing agency, we're seeing a flurry of activity in the equity crowdfunding space in hopes that Trump will alleviate some of the red tape with some of the current crowdfunding regulations.”
Ruth Hedges is one of the pioneers of the JOBS Act and executive producer of the Global Crowdfunding Convention, the largest and longest running crowdfunding convention in the country. Here are her thoughts on the Trump presidency related to crowdfunding: "As America enters uncharted waters with social safety net programs and medical insurance for 20 million people threatened with destruction, we'll need to call on crowdfunding to provide help to those people who will surely suffer, because crowdfunding is not red or blue, black or white, Christian, Muslim or Jew. It is not left or right, but showcases the best of our humanity. And it demonstrates the potential to bring together people from all backgrounds and beliefs to work for our common good as Americans."
Craig Denlinger is one of the go-to auditors for financial reports needed to comply with equity crowdfunding laws. His firm, Artesian CPA, has provided the SEC financial filings for several companies using Regulation A+ to raise capital. Denlinger said "while it is difficult to decipher between what Trump says and what Trump intends, I anticipate that Trump will be a positive force for the crowdfunding community based on his words and actions to this point. With the incumbent SEC Chair Mary Jo White set for early retirement next month, Trump is poised to appoint a more regulation-averse head of the agency looking to scale back on barriers to innovation and job creation. Trump’s planned federal hiring freeze and quotes such as 'eliminating two regulations for every one created' or 'rank all regulations and cut those least important' further confirm this belief.”
The experts have spoken. Here is my two cents.
The “crowd” is a dynamic group that effects change one dollar at a time. With its support, Pebble Watch raised $32,000,000+ in two Kickstarter rounds, BrewDog raised more than $40,000,000 through several equity crowdfunding offerings, and countless other ideas and businesses have been afforded the opportunity to succeed. Crowdfunding brings people together in a way that is truly American because political affiliation isn't a factor in the equation. Each project or offering can be a melting pot of Democrats, Republicans and maybe even Whigs -- anyone can support a business they like regardless of gender, race or religion. Even Congress managed to find common ground to pass the JOBS Act with bipartisan support.
Because navigating the legal maze of rules and regulations is presently the biggest thing hampering equity crowdfunding, President Trump will have a positive influence on the industry if he delivers on his promise to reduce regulations. Reducing regulations will slash attorney fees and compliance costs for companies wishing to use equity crowdfunding. I truly hope the Trump administration will remove unnecessary red tape and open the door for even more democratization of the capital formation process through equity crowdfunding.
And, if the new administration wants to create a new unpaid cabinet position of “Secretary of Crowdfunding” to help them reduce the barriers to entry for small businesses, I happen to know a lawyer/writer/entrepreneur who lives in D.C. and might be available to fill that role.