OUR EXPERIENCE WITH REGULATION A – BY BEN MILLER, CO-FOUNDER OF FUNDRISE

To improve the user experience, I am inviting guest bloggers. The first is Ben Miller, a Co-Founder of Fundrise, who explains how he and his brother Dan invented Crowdfunding through Regulation A.

Please let me know if you would like to post. I’m looking for content like Ben’s – interesting, informative, educational.

-MARK RODERICK

____________________________________________________________________________________

By: Ben Miller, Co-Founder of Fundrise.

My brother Dan and I were in the real estate business for a long time, developing commercial and residential projects in the Washington, D.C. area, before we thought about crowdfunding. We got some of our capital from the same place many real estate developers get their capital: from investment funds in New York or even outside of the country.

Most of them had little connection to the places we were building and often had never even heard of the neighborhood. On the other hand, our friends and neighbors, people with real connection to the projects, couldn’t invest with us.

fundriseWe started to imagine a world where everyone could invest in high-quality real estate deals, which were then limited to professional investors. We thought about ordinary people investing in their own communities, creating a win-win for the community and business owners. Like every other developer, we’ve had our share of battles with local zoning agencies. We imagined how that process might change if actual investors from the community showed up at council meetings to support the project.

This was before crowdfunding or the JOBS Act were on the table, and every lawyer we spoke to (and we spoke to plenty) told us that our idea was impossible.

Finally we discovered SEC Regulation A. Although Regulation A had been around since 1936, before we came along it had been used very rarely, which probably explains why the lawyers hadn’t heard about it. In all of 2012 fewer than a dozen companies had used Regulation A to raise capital across the whole country, as compared to more than 7,000 Regulation D offerings.

We soon found out why. Although Regulation A allows you to raise money from anybody, including from non-accredited investors, first you have to file a disclosure document with the SEC and with the state securities regulators in any state where you offer the security, and get the regulators to approve your offering. Regulation A is nothing like the new Crowdfunding under SEC Rule 506(c), which is simple and streamlined by comparison.

Once we figured out how to file the disclosure document, which is really like a mini registration statement, we learned that neither the SEC nor the state regulators had ever seen a real estate development project offered under Regulation A. We spent hundreds of hours and way too much in legal fees working through all of the issues. We were literally doing something that had never been done in the history of the U.S. capital markets, and at the same time paving the way for everyone else.

After lots of work, lots of frustration, and lots of conversations with regulators, we succeeded. Our Regulation A filing was approved and we raised $325,000 for the project. I won’t even tell you how much it cost to raise that $325,000, but we were okay with it because we saw the experience then, and still do, as an investment in our future.

We have completed three Regulation A offerings since then. Each time we’ve gotten better and faster, not to mention that the regulators have learned along with us.

Here’s what it took to complete our most recent Regulation A offering:

reg a breakdown

Our most recent filing:

fedex

Fundrise has branched out since those early days. As the leading real estate portal in the world we offer not only Regulation A projects but Rule 506(c) investments under the JOBS Act. And we’re very excited about the new Regulation A+. Regulation A+ improves on Regulation A by allowing us to raise up to $50 million of equity from non-accredited investors (subject to a limitation on how much each person can invest) and further streamline the process by filing only with the SEC, and not with state securities regulators. Fundrise has always been a pioneer, and we expect to pioneer the possibilities of Regulation A+ as well as soon as it becomes available.

Whatever the future holds for Fundrise, and we believe our future is unlimited, we’ll always remember that Regulation A allowed us to open the door into the world of crowdfunding and give unaccredited investors the chance to invest in real estate for the first time in history.

Follow @BenMillerise and @Fundrise on Twitter.

 

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3 thoughts on “OUR EXPERIENCE WITH REGULATION A – BY BEN MILLER, CO-FOUNDER OF FUNDRISE

  1. berkie382 July 16, 2014 at 6:03 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on Building Boston: Navigating The Development in it's Enterprising Neighborhoods and commented:
    Regulation A, A+, D, SEC RULE 506(c)… Ben Miller shares his thoughts on navigating the pitfalls that currently exist for those looking to crowdfund their development projects.

  2. Scott Picken July 21, 2014 at 3:17 pm Reply

    It really has been a frustrating number of years. I thought this was very clearly explained and has been such a challenge. We have had a similar journey for over 6 years. During the global financial crisis there were such amazing opportunities in London. There was only one small problem and that is that I needed $15 million to buy the opportunity. I spoke to a number of investors, but it was a cash deal and was gone quickly in a foreclosure. I decided there and then that I would never be in that situation again and that in the future I would use collective buying power to allow not only myself, but others to take advantage of these types of opportunities. The more money we spent on lawyers the more confused we got. Unfortunately for us it has never been figuring out how to do it in one country, but cross border which is even harder as often they are mutually exclusive. After 4 years of playing ping pong with the lawyers, we finally found a way through. I always believe in the saying, “The definition of luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” Ben you guys preserved until now it looks easy from the outside. I am not sure people understand how frustrating this journey must have been. Well done for sticking to the vision though as the more people who share it will enable us to change the 20th century way of thinking!

    • crowdfundattny July 21, 2014 at 3:42 pm Reply

      Thanks for the comment Scott. We are going to be hearing a lot more about WealthMigrate in the months and years to come, especially now that they’ve discovered a good lawyer. 🙂

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