Editor’s Note: This article is regularly updated to provide the most up-to-date information.
Among the myriad equity crowdfunding platforms — which allow anyone to invest in startups — StartEngine is one of the leaders. A critical factor has been the company’s early mover advantage in the industry. But StartEngine has also been innovating. For example, the company introduced a secondary trading platform. This allows for trading in the shares of startups, which should help to encourage even more trading activity.
Howard Marks is the CEO and co-founder of StartEngine. Before launching the company, he started several other successful ventures, most notably Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI), which has a market value of $69 billion. He also co-founded Acclaim games, which was later sold to Disney (NYSE:DIS).
“Overall, I consider StartEngine to be one of the three ‘must-have’ accounts for online startup investors,” said Brian Belley, founder of Crowdwise.org and VentureWallet. “Investing on any other equity crowdfunding platform is much more of an optional preference for investors who either want to invest in certain niches or want to spend additional time screening every equity crowdfunding deal.”
Keep in mind that StartEngine currently has more than 100 deals on its platforms. So then, what are some that look good? Let’s take a look at these seven:
- Kemper Snowboards
- SAM Email by Airto
Now, let’s dive in and take a closer look at each one.
Equity Crowdfunding: AtomBeam
IoT (Internet-of-Things) is about the use of connected devices, such as in factories. The market is large and is growing rapidly.
Consider that IoT systems generate huge amounts of data. And while this is valuable — in terms of allowing for insights or providing for preventative maintenance — there is the need for transmitting and storing the huge volumes.
That said, this is where AtomBeam comes in. The company is a developer of software that leverages machine learning to reduce the size of IoT data files by 75% or more, while also maintaining security.
AtomBeam’s system is new, having been launched in October 2020 (there are seven issued patents and three pending on the technology). This came after an intensive development and testing process. Currently, a variety of large companies are evaluating the product. The technology has wide applications, whether for autos, trucks, aircraft, data centers, UAVs, cell phones and so on.
So far, the company has raised more than $258,000 from 168 investors and the valuation is $10 million. The minimum investment is $500.
For the most part, the candy and confections market is focused on kids. But this means there is an opportunity for growth in the adult segment.
And this is the focus for Sugarfina, which is a seller of luxury treats. A key part of the strategy involves partnerships with artisan candy makers across the globe. The offerings are also extensive, spanning categories like chocolate bars, cocktail candies and gummies.
Additionally, packaging is certainly essential. For example, there is the Candy Bento Box that is curated with various candies.
Since late 2019, revenues have come to about $18 million for Sugarfina. The company distributes its products primarily from e-commerce channels (34.5%) and wholesale (36.3%) partners like Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN), Bloomingdales and high-end specialty grocers.
Regarding the equity crowdfunding round, the company has raised more than $133,000 from more than 121 investors and the valuation is $125 million. The minimum investment is $500.
Equity Crowdfunding: Saebo
Globally, someone suffers a stroke about every 2.1 seconds. If a person survives such a horrific thing, the rehabilitation can take years. And while there are tools and equipment to help with this process, they are often cumbersome and expensive — which just adds to the pain. A person’s insurance policy may not even cover the costs. It’s a terrible situation.
However, Saebo is working on ways to make things much better. The company is a developer of home-based rehabilitation products for stroke survivors. Saebo’s mission is to make sure “no patient is ever left behind.”
Now, the company is not a startup. Note that it has a line of various products and systems. Since inception, the company has helped over 800,000 patients and has generated over $44 million in revenues. The website gets about 250,000 visits per month.
The products are based on extensive clinical research and have gained FDA approval. There are also 17 patents granted in the U.S.
As for the equity crowdfunding campaign, the company has raised more than $128,000 from 184 investors and the valuation is $11 million. The minimum investment is $248.
Kemper Snowboards got its start back in 1987. The founder, David Kemper, built boards from his garage. But the business would quickly gain traction, becoming one of the top brands in the snowboard industry. One of the hallmarks of the brand was the vibrant neon colors.
However, by the mid-1990s, the company would suffer and eventually go bust. It simply did not have the scale to compete against the dominant player in the industry, Burton.
Yet, for entrepreneur Jib Hunt — a former pro snowboarder — the Kemper brand was still valuable. So he bought the rights to it in 2018.
The strategy is to maintain the flashy graphics and shapes for the boards. It’s basically a retro play.
Kemper’s go-to market approach is to leverage the direct-to-consumer model. There are also partnerships with ten Utah resorts for a try-before-you-buy program.
Moreover, sales have been growing nicely. They are currently at $135,000 for the 2020 to 2021 season. The company has also been aggressive with co-branding arrangements with brands like Yuki Threads Outerwear.
For the equity crowdfunding campaign, the company has raised more than $208,000 from 223 investors, and the valuation is $5 million. The minimum investment is $200.
Equity Crowdfunding: SAM Email by Airto
While email is one of history’s ultimate killer apps, there are certainly drawbacks. It can be difficult to keep track of the threads, and the user experience in the text of the email can be lacking.
But for SAM Email by Airto, the company believes it has a way to improve things. The company’s technology — which is patented — essentially makes emails much more immersive and interactive. For example, you can do things like add a product to a cart, book an appointment or complete a survey. As a result, there is usually higher engagement and conversions for marketing campaigns.
Airto has already seen this with its own customers. Just look at LATAM Airlines, which is the largest airline in Latin America. After using Airto, the company saw a 200% increase in engagement, a 500% jump in the click-through rate and a 40% increase in the sales rate.
Consider that JetBlue Technology Ventures and EL AL Israel Airlines have invested in the startup. There has also been $650,000 raised from the prior crowdfunding campaigns. And as for the current one, the company has received commitments for more than $173,000 from over 239 investors, and the valuation is $19.8 million. The minimum investment is $349.77.
KapitalWise operates a platform that helps financial institutions improve their client relationships. At the heart of this is the use of leveraging large amounts of data from a company’s call center, bill payment system and so on.
With the emergence of fintech startups, traditional financial institutions are under much pressure. Customers have come to expect to have rich experiences, such as with a mobile app or website. But traditional financial institutions usually do not have the resources to create their own technologies.
However, with KapitalWise, its possible to get more digitally sophisticated. The system can help identify client goals as well as determine the right times to engage with customers, such as when there is a major life event. This not only increases loyalty but increase revenue opportunities, such as with cross-selling and up-selling.
KapitalWise has been getting momentum. Consider that the company has contracts with firms like Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), Standard Chartered Bank UK, and ABSA, which is the Barclays (NYSE:BCS) operation in South Africa.
Founded in 2017, KapitalWise has raised more than $500,000 in seed funding from investors and accelerators like Techstars and Breega Capital. Regarding the equity crowdfunding round, the company has received commitments of nearly $216,000 from 322 investors and the valuation is $15 million. The minimum investment is $249.90.
Equity Crowdfunding: Zenus
With the breakthroughs in AI (artificial intelligence) approaches like deep learning, there has been lots of progress with facial recognition software. But of course, there are emerging ethical and privacy issues. Because of this, major companies like Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), IBM (NYSE:IBM) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) have been limiting the use of their own offerings.
There is still considerable opportunity in this market, but there needs to be strong guardrails. And this is the focus of Zenus. It calls its system “ethical facial analysis.” To this end, there is the use of data on an anonymized basis as well as strict opt-in requirements. The cameras also do not pick up personally identifiable information.
The target for Zenus is the in-store retail market. The company’s system allows for the processing of video to detect consumer behavior and foot-traffic information. For example, one camera can track 12 metrics, cover an area of up to 15,000 square feet and reduce data transmissions by 64,000 times.
As for the equity crowdfunding campaign, the company has raised more than $267,000 from 406 investors, and the valuation is $9.99 million. The minimum investment is $199.98.
On the date of publication, Tom Taulli did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in any of the securities mentioned in this article.
Tom Taulli (@ttaulli) is the author of various books on investing and technology, including Artificial Intelligence Basics, High-Profit IPO Strategies and All About Short Selling. He is also the author of courses on topics like the Python language and COBOL.