When it comes to raising capital for your business, there are a wide range of options available. Some of these options are available through SEC rules exempting from registration capital raises that meet specific qualifications (“Regulations”). The SEC has taken several steps to simplify and harmonize these Regulations, including rules such as Regulation A/A+ (collectively “Reg A” ), Regulation D ( “Reg D”), and Regulation Crowdfunding (“Reg CF”).
Ultimately, the key differences between these three regulations fall into one of three categories:
Only a licensed broker-dealer can answer that question. Rather than copy what another business did or assume that internet research will provide you with sufficient knowledge, consider consulting a securities attorney and broker-dealer.
Choosing the right vehicle for your offering depends on several factors, including the amount of money you want to raise, the type of business you run, the jurisdictions you are targeting, and your appetite to provide required audited financials. Broker-dealers and attorneys can walk you through these requirements so you make the right choice for your business.
Reg A allows companies to solicit investments from the general public. Based on a two-tiered system, businesses can choose between two offering limits:
Unlike traditional initial public offerings or IPOs, Reg A offerings are designed for retail investors rather than institutional investors. These offerings allow growth companies to engage with their existing customer base by offering them equity and an opportunity to 'get in early’. This equity crowdfunding approach makes a Reg A capital raise an attractive option for companies to raise funds while increasing brand customer engagement. Through this exemption companies can market to sell thier shares in the same way products and services are sold through ecommerce.
A Reg A offering is available to any non-public US or Canadian company that is not:
The company can advertise its offering to the public, but audited financials must be provided to the SEC.
When preparing a Reg A offering one of the key steps required is completion of a Form 1-A. Among other things, this document consists of material details that are necessary to ensure that the statements made in your offering are not misleading. Some of the key items on this form include information about investors, the methods you will use to raise capital, the risks associated with the investment, the sector and the company and the selling restrictions associated with your company's securities.
Regulation Crowdfunding (Reg CF) allows businesses to raise up to $5 million annually from investors. There is no requirement that investors be accredited. An issuer can raise capital from the general public through an SEC-registered intermediary, either a broker-dealer or a funding portal - meaning, that like Reg A, this exemption allows for shares to be marketed.
Reg CF requires detailed investor disclosures, including financial and investor personal information that must be provided before someone can invest. Additionally, Reg CF issuers must also accept caps on the amount that non-accredited investors can contribute and ongoing SEC reporting requirements.
To be eligible for Reg CF issuance, your company must be US-based, in full compliance with all relevant SEC regulations, and have no current plans to engage in a merger or acquisition with any other company. While this rules out merging with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), there is some good news here. As of March 15, 2019, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) can be used to facilitate Reg CF raises.
You must also fill out a Form C. Materials disclosed in the form help investors make an educated decision before putting their money into the company. The form contains important issuer information such as the physical address of the company and the intermediary selected for the campaign, as well as specific details about the offering such as the price per security and target amount to be raised. In addition, investors must also provide basic financial information about the issuer, including its revenue, profitability, and projected growth rate.
Reg D is a set of rules that govern private placement offerings - these are offerings typically for a known audience of existing investors. Reg D has three main exemptions: Rule 504, Rule 505, and Rule 506.
Rule 506 is the most commonly used exemption under Reg D. Rule 506(c) allows an issuer to market their raise publicly and sell an unlimited amount of unregistered securities, but only to "accredited investors." Using Rule 506(b), an issuer can include 35 non-accredited “sophisticated” investors but cannot market their raise publicly.
Accredited investors include institutional investors and individuals with a net worth or annual income greater than specified thresholds.
In order to take advantage of the exemption from registration offered by Reg D, companies must meet specific requirements. First, they must file a Form D with the SEC after the first sale of the security. This form provides information about the offering, including the names and addresses of the company's officers and directors, the type and amount of securities being offered, and the compensation arrangements for those selling the securities.
Regulation S provides an SEC-compliant way for non-US and U.S. companies to raise capital outside the U.S. It is not necessary to have a U.S. company to use Regulation S.
A Regulation S offering can involve issuing equity or debt securities, and a company that makes its offering under Reg S can also use another method to raise capital from U.S. investors - usually Reg D, 506 C or Rule 144A. The SEC does not require Reg S investors to be accredited investors.
All offerings have their own unique set of benefits and limitations. So, which one is right for your business? It depends on your specific capital raise needs and goals - and speaking with a licensed broker-dealer or knowledgeable securities attorney is crucial to making the right decision for your business.
Equity Crowdfunding is an incredible innovation in the capital markets and is allowing startups to raise capital with their largest fanbase - their customers. By building a community of shareholders via equity crowdfunding, you essentially create a group of brand advocates and beta-testers for your company. It's a great way to get both clout and runway for your startup.
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