Mittwoch, 8. Mai 2013

CircleUp Raises Its Own $7,5 M Series A

While most of the equity crowdfunding headlines have gone to discussions of startup fundraising, it’s a platform that is backing growth-stage consumer product companies that today announced the largest Series A raised of any company in the category. CircleUp has raised $7.5 million in a round led by Union Square Ventures, with participation from Google Ventures, Maveron Ventures, and Clayton Christensen’s Rose Park Advisors – adding to its $1.5 million Seed round raised in April 2012.

CircleUp is unique in its category in that rather than raising early-stage capital for nascent businesses, the platform focuses on providing otherwise difficult to come by growth financing to established mid-size consumer and retail brands. The issue for these companies is that they are often too small for private equity, too large for commercial banks, and too moderate in growth for venture capital. But for sophisticated individual investors with industry experience looking for an alternative to the stock market and real estate, they often represent a less risky and more easily quantifiable option than technology startups. And the highly active M&A market in the CPG sector creates a natural path toward liquidity. View Full Story

Union Square Ventures On CircleUp:

As venture capitalists, we understand how valuable an injection of capital into an early-stage, fast-growing business can be. But our industry has a particular set of economics, one that has skewed the availability of equity investment towards startups in the technology sector. Yet, despite a lack of access to upfront capital, entrepreneurs are constantly innovating in all areas of our economy. One of the most vibrant verticals is consumer products, with over 50,000 new consumer and retail companies started every year. These businesses are drivers of economic growth.

Andy Weissman, Partner at Union Square
CircleUp has created an equity crowdfunding marketplace, enabling investors to own pieces of small but fast-growing consumer and retail businesses. Since last April, entrepreneurs have used CircleUp to raise over $10 million in equity, each in an average of only 61 days. The list of successful companies include Episencial, a producer of skin care products developed by its CEO, Kim Walls, a skin-care expert; Peeled Snacks, natural snack foods, founded by Noha Waibsnaider after working at a larger consumer products company; and Raen Optics, a maker of awesome eyewear started by two friends out of their boutique creative agency. These companies average over $1 million in yearly sales and more than 70% in annual growth.

This technology-enabled marketplace has created an entirely new system of allocation of capital and expertise. CircleUp has standardized the investment process (no paper is used), provided transparency and the ability to easily share data, and lowered the cost of investing for both investors and companies. Plus, these are products that investors can use themselves (making due diligence fun). For investors, the platform is designed to create trust and provide information in an open manner. For companies, the marketplace gives them efficient access to interested investors to help them grow, saving them months of manual fundraising time.

This kind of peer-funding network has the potential to expand the types of investors and entrepreneurs that can participate in private investing. We are excited to announce that we have become investors in Ryan, Rory and the team at CircleUp.

maveron features:

CircleUp, Disrupting The Financial Services Industry

Congratulations to Ryan Caldbeck and Rory Eakin, the co-founders of CircleUp, for closing new funding of $7.5 million led by Union Square Ventures and Google Ventures, with participation from Maveron. Rather than shying away from what some consider to be competition, we were the first institutional investors to invest in CircleUp and embrace the value that crowdfunding can bring to early-stage startups. The new financing marks the next step for Caldbeck and Eakin in making CircleUp the investment platform for the next generation of consumer brands and early evidence shows that there is a good chance the next Chobani, Vitamin Water, or Under Armor will start by raising capital on CircleUp.

In his Forbes article on the one-year old “Jumpstart Our Business Startups” (JOBS) Act, Caldeck says “Equity crowd funding is the most disruptive thing to happen to the financial services industry in a very long time.”

We couldn’t agree more! Congratulations to the team.

Ryan Caldbeck, Founder and CEO
Before he founded CircleUp, Ryan Caldbeck worked in consumer product and retail-focused private equity at TSG Consumer Partners and Encore Consumer Capital. His experience in private equity exposed him to many great consumer and retail businesses that were too small to obtain funding through the customary private equity channels. As a result, he decided to make funding available to these small and promising companies through CircleUp.

Ryan received his MBA from Stanford and BA from Duke. He holds Series 24, 63, and 82 licenses with WRH+Co. If you have a 15 minute conversation with him, you will learn that he grew up in Vermont, which explains his love of cheddar cheese and maple syrup.

Rory Eakin, Founder and COO
Rory has supported entrepreneurs nearly all his career, most recently as Director of Investments at Humanity United, part of the Omidyar family enterprises. At Humanity United, he invested in small businesses and social enterprises to stimulate job creation and promote stability in fragile economies. He began his career at a startup providing financial training to small businesses in Cape Town, South Africa. Rory is a former consultant with The Boston Consulting Group.
Rory received his MBA from Stanford as well as a public policy degree from Princeton. He holds Series 24, 63, and 82 licenses with WRH+Co., and enjoys listening to weekend NPR quiz shows a little too much.

Happy Birthday Circle Up!!!

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