Improving Legal Documents in Crowdfunding: Capital Calls

man beggingYou raise $2 million of equity from investors to buy an apartment complex and two years later want to make $500,000 of capital improvements. Where do you get the money?

Traditionally, your Operating Agreement might give you the right to make a “capital call,” asking your existing investors for the additional $500,000. Suppose you had 20 investors, each contributing $100,000 in the beginning. Exercising your right to make capital calls, you would ask each for another $25,000 (20 x $25,000 = $500,000).

If the Operating Agreement includes a capital call feature, then it should also describe the consequences if one or more investors fail to contribute. The simplest approach, which I have seen used in Crowdfunding offerings, provides for simple dilution based on capital contributed. Let’s say 19 investors send $25,000 checks but one does not. The Operating Agreement would provide that his ownership interest is reduced by 1% (100 basis points), the percentage that his failed contribution ($25,000) bears to the total capital contributed ($2,500,000).

A few things to bear in mind using capital calls in Crowdfunding:

  • If I am the Crowdfunding investor, I do not want a capital call. Once I write my initial check, I don’t want to be asked for more money.
  • If I am the sponsor, I don’t want to be obligated to ask my existing investors for additional capital, which is just another way of saying I don’t want to give my existing investors a so-called “preemptive right.” There might be 157 existing investors. It might be much easier to get the $500,000 from a single source, or even a new Crowdfunding round. I want to leave my options open.
  • If we include a capital call, simple dilution is often not the right answer. Suppose the real estate market deteriorates and I desperately need the $500,000 to keep the project afloat. If an investor fails to make good on the capital call, a much higher rate of dilution might be appropriate, 150% or 200%, or even more. I have drafted agreements where the failure to make good on a capital call results in the wholesale forfeiture of an interest.

Crowdfunding is like traditional private placements in many ways, but in other ways it isn’t. When we draft legal documents for Crowdfunding deals we need to figure out which is which.

Questions? Contact Mark Roderick.

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