Venture capital has spent the past year becoming more accessible, via institutional efforts like office hours and the emergence of omnipresent superangels. Another crack in the old boy network comes today, via the launch of a P2P startup equity platform called Microventures.
The company is essentially an equity riff on Prosper or Kiva, in which startups are able to request between $50,000 and $250,000 from accredited investors. MicroVentures takes a fee only if the issuer raises its desired amount, and provides free services that ensure the issuer is in regulatory compliance.
“What we’re doing is creating a marketplace for entrepreneurs who don’t have the means to go out and find venture capitalists, and for investors who might not have access to startup deal-flow,” says MicroVentures founder and CEO Bill Clark, who previously was a portfolio manager in PayPal’s merchant risk management unit.
Today’s launch is mostly about PR, since the platform cannot be fully operational until it receives its broker-dealer license (a process Clark says is almost finished). The initial goal is to build up the stable of accredited investors, and then begin posting investment opportunities in a few months.
Even though investors must be accredited to use the MicroVentures platform, they will not initially be able to invest more than $5,000 per company. Clark views this as an effort at investor protection, but my guess is that it will change quickly if MicroVentures manages to gain traction.