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Best Crowdfunding Sites for Small Businesses

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By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

If you need to raise money for your small business, there are several viable options available that are not your traditional bank loans.  One good one is Crowdfunding.    Crowdfunding easily allows a diverse set of people to invest in your business, idea, or project.

The Internet has many Crowdfunding sites and it can be confusing and challenging to find the right one to fit your needs.  VAMBOA staff has researched some of the best crowdfunding sites in 2020 and they are below in alphabetical order:

Chuffed 

This platform is exclusively for non-profit or cause-based organizations and is focused at funding projects that help animals, the environment, or your community. This platform has funded approximately 8,000 campaigns which have collectively raised over $18 million dollars.

Crowd Supply 

This platform’s mission is to “bring original, useful, respectful hardware to life.” So far over 70% of all projects on their site have been successfully funded and twice more than Kickstarter. Regardless of what business you are in, or what project you wish to bring to life, from a simple family recipe to a complicated electronic device, Crowd Supply can assist you in making your dream into a reality.

Crowdfunder 

This platform offers equity crowdfunding that translates into selling shares of your company to accredited investors. Currently they boast a community of over 200,000 entrepreneurs and investors.   They have raised over $150 million dollars in capital to help any business from startups to Pre-Seed to Series A companies.

Experiment 

This platform’s goal is funding scientific discoveries that “push the boundaries of knowledge.” The main focus is to help scientists move away from university grants that have a high overhead cost of as much as 50 percent to 60 percent.

Fundable 

This platform offers two different programs. One option is for consumer businesses helps them raise capital for products, pre-orders, or selling merchandise. There is a $50,000 capital limit. The other is an equity program for products, services, or B2B business. This option allows the company to raise a huge range of from $50,000 to $10 million dollars.

Fundly 

This platform allows you to “raise money for anything” with zero raise requirements and zero startup fees involved. They will fund any project from personal health needs, to politics, and even vacations.

GoFundMe

This platform is for raising money for a cause including a person, a group, or nonprofit.

Kickstarter 

This platform is perhaps one of the most widely known crowdfunding sites today.  You can raise money for anything you wish. The only stipulation is that you must meet your funding goal within the allotted timeframe. Otherwise the project is not funded, and the backers receive their funds back.  To date, they have helped well over 15 million people raise over $3.7 billion to successfully fund more than 143,000 projects.

Indiegogo 

This platform offers both live crowdfunding campaigns and a full marketplace for innovative products. They are the sister platform to the popular GoFundMe platform. With Indiegogo, you can also choose whether your backers receive equity, securities, revenue sharing, or even cryptocurrency. To date, they have helped entrepreneurs raise over $1 billion dollars to fund more than 650,000 projects.

LendingClub 

This platform will connect a borrower with an investor for a personal loan of up to $40,000 dollars or business loans up $300,000 dollars. This one is really recommended for large, one-time expenses. The investor purchases a note that corresponds to a fraction of the loan in exchange for a solid return.

Patreon  (not to be mistaken with my favorite tequila, Patron)

This platform helps artists, musicians, writers, and other creative types obtain funds by running a membership business for their fans. The revenue comes from the fans paying a subscription fee in exchange for exclusive experiences and behind the scenes content.

WeFunder 

This platform focused on any small business, from a small restaurant to tech startups. They currently have over 150,000 investors and campaigns can raise anywhere from $50,000 to $50 million dollars.

SeedInvest 

This platform is focused on high-growth, professional and early-stage companies to raise either preferred equity or convertible note funding.

Keep in mind that each of these platforms has a different pricing structure and different fees.   VAMBOA is not endorsing any of these Crowdfunding sites but providing information.  We encourage our audience to refer to please each platform’s site for more information on what they charge to raise capital for your business or idea.

If you are not already a VAMBOA member, please consider joining.  There are not any fees or dues.    We will also provide you our seal to feature on your web site and collateral.  Here is a link to join:   https://vamboa.org/contact-us/

Business Loan Scams – Borrowers Beware! Part 2 of 2

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By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

We hope that you have found the prior article on Business Loan Scams helpful.   It so important to be aware so you and your Small Veteran Owned Business do not fall prey to a scammer.  Remember that scammers often will contact you online or by phone.  Below we will provide you additional types of Business Loan Scams.

  • Ghost Investors: You can receive a call about a “potential investor” lined up to provide you huge amounts of funding immediately and asking for a transaction fee.   Keep in mind when anything sounds to good to be true, it usually is a scam.  Ghost investors are more of a con trying to go after those who might be in the market for business loans and/or funding.   The scammer will act as the “agent” for a large investor, foundation, angel investor or fund who wants to give you money and make an investment in your business.

They are not too interested in hearing your plan or ideas but want to collect your private financial information online such as your social security number or tax identification number for your business.   They will say they need this private information to conduct a background check.  They also will try to obtain an advance fee of some type from you.  They want to hook you and then do a double whammy of taking your personal information and obtaining your money in advance fees.   Legitimate investors take a considerable amount of time to investigate you and they do not ask for fees.

  • Loan Broker Swindlers: These scammers will promise to connect you with a reputable lender in the role of consultant of sorts.   They want your sensitive information and advance fees.

Yes, there are legitimate loan brokers out there, but the real ones will not ask you to pay upfront for their services.   Most ethical loan brokers work on a commission basis and are not paid their commission until the deal closes.  Please beware of any loan brokers who ask for their fees upfront.  If someone wants to buy your business or make a loan, there is a process and it should not cost you upfront.

  • After Financing Business Loan Scams: Stay alert because after you have your loan, there are scammers who will come out of the woodwork.  Below are some of the scams after you obtain your loan:
  1. Debt Relief Scam: It usually goes like this: “If you are struggling with loan payments, get out of debt with affordable monthly payments and we guarantee 48-hour approval”.   The target are people who have trouble keeping up with their loan payments.  The scammer often promises to significantly cut your loan payment or forgive all or part of it.  Once again, they will try to obtain your sensitive information and even your bank account info.   Anyone who promises you a “guaranteed approval” is usually not legitimate.  Again, they will try to obtain upfront fees.  If you are struggling with payments, talk with your existing lender and determine if you can revise the loan so the payments are more affordable.
  2. Debt Collection Schemes: This is when debt collectors harass you, make threats of arrest and try to use fear to obtain money from you.    Collectors are regulated by law.  At the end of the day, they want to work out a plan with you and are not allowed to make threats.  If you feel threatened, it probably is not a legitimate collector.

There are many ways that hard working small business owners can be tricked by scammers and con artists.  We urge you to be on the lookout for the following:

  • Unsolicited Contact
  • Non-Traditional Advertising
  • Upfront Money Requested
  • Lack of a Physical Address
  • Generic Email Address
  • Guaranteed Approval
  • High-Pressure Sales Tactics
  • Too Good to be True

If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a business loan scam, below are a list of things you can do:

  • Report to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
  • Call local police
  • Report identity theft
  • Contact local credit bureaus

We urge you to be on the alert to avoid business loan scams.  As we previously stated, knowledge is power.  Take your time and confirm that you are dealing with legitimate sources.

If you are interested, we invite you to join VAMBOA.   There are not any fees or dues charged to members.  We will also allow members to use the VAMBOA seal on their collateral and website.  If you want to join, below is a link to register:

https://vamboa.org/member-registration

More Financing Info For Small Businesses

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More Financing Info For Small Businesses

By Debbie Gregory.

Many business owners focus on the numbers on their balance sheet and don’t pay enough attention to their cash flow needs. To keep a company thriving, business owners need to take charge of their working capital.

Working capital is the daily, weekly and monthly cash requirement for the operations of a company.  It is paramount to the success of any business. Working capital ensures that a firm has enough liquidity to run its operations smoothly. Veteran business owners need to also be mindful of working capital.

Some of the additional benefits of having healthy working capital include:

  • A higher return for every dollar invested in the business
  • Improved credit profile
  • Higher liquidity and profitability
  • The ability to weather market ebbs and flows
  • Favorable Financing Terms

While there are many options to finance your small businesses, be aware that finance terms and fee structures are hidden and don’t clearly display the true cost of credit.

To that end, StreetShares, a veteran-run company, is currently providing one of most transparent and fair business lending products that benefit entrepreneurship across the U.S., according to Mark Rockefeller than CEO and an Iraq War.

Streetshares is launching zero fee products with a low, straightforward interest rate, allowing business owners to more clearly understand the real cost of credit as they are increasingly accustomed to in the consumer lending space.   These products will be available until May 31st.

Additionally, StreetShares is also providing a four-week interest rate rebate to small business owners so if borrowers choose to pay off their loan or line of credit draw within the four week period, they can do it without paying any fees or finance charges whatsoever.

“Our mission is to be the trusted financial solution for America’s heroes and their communities, this offering will help us achieve that,” said Rockefeller

Knowing how much working capital your business needs to function will vary, but it’s important to have a clear understanding, plan accordingly and manage your financial responsibilities.

Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, VAMBOA,

 

Financing For Veteran Business Owners

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By Debbie Gregory.

Many U.S. military veterans leave their service branch with skills and attributes necessary to succeed as veteran business owners.

Often times, the main roadblock for these entrepreneurs is financing their new mission: to become a veteran business owner or a service disabled veteran business owner.

If you’re looking to start or expand your business, there are a number of financing options available.

Start with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veteran Entrepreneur Portal.  The website features all things related to veteran entrepreneurship, including a customized wizard that will identify financing resources to support the start-up, development, or growth of veteran owned small businesses.

The U.S. Small Business Administration created the Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan to offer very low-interest loans to help reservists rebuild their businesses after serving their country. Reservists who are also business owners have to balance those two responsibilities in addition to their families. This loan is limited to businesses that the SBA determines would be unable to recover without government assistance.

Another SBA program designed to serve a particular subsection military veterans is the Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Program. Veterans with a service-connected disability who are principal owners of a small business may be connected with sole-source government contracts of up to $5 million.

StreetShares offers a loan platform where investors compete in an online auction format to fund different portions of an applicant’s business loans. The investor that offers the lowest interest rate “wins” the agreement.   StreetShares’ non-profit foundation has partnered with JP Morgan Chase to commit $10,000 per month in awards to eligible reserve or active-duty service members and military veteran small business owners. Three winners are chosen monthly to split a $10,000 prize based on the merits of their business plan and the potential impact of the business on the military and veterans communities.

Non-profit Accion Veteran-Owned Business Loans provides loans up to $1 million, depending on the business’ need. Accion is often able to fund loans for veteran business owners who may not be eligible for commercial loans.

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