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 $79 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:
- Atmos Home
- xCraft Enterprises
Equity Crowdfunding: SkillSoniq
Recruiting contractors is tedious, time-consuming, expensive and prone to error. And while there are many HR apps to help out, they often fall short.
But for a startup called SkillSoniq, the focus is on using AI to streamline the process. The focus is on taking the guesswork out of the decision-making but also to find ways to greatly reduce the costs.
SkillSoniq launched its service back in 2019 and there has been notable traction. In all, the revenues have come to $350,000 (in year one) and more than 12,000 freelancers have been onboarded. Over 300 companies use the platform, which is available in various cities in the U.S. and Canada.
The contractor market is large and growing. If anything, the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the ramp. After all, contractor arrangement can be ideal for a remote worker. But it also can mean evaluating a person on a trial basis. And eventually, he or she may become an employee.
For the equity crowdfunding campaign, the company has raised over $41,000 from 82 investors and the valuation is $10.3 million. The minimum investment is $149.24.
For most book authors, it is extremely difficult to gin up sales. The advertising on platforms like Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Alphabet’s (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google can be expensive. There are also large numbers of titles released every day — many of which are self-published.
BookSniffer is setting out to solve this problem. The company has developed an Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Android app that has more than three million books and registrations of over 1,600 authors.
Some of the features of BookSniffer include:
- Direct messaging between authors and readers
- Sophisticated author portals
- Low-cost advertising programs that have systems to help identify the right keywords
- Custom book landing pages
In October, when the app was launched, revenues hit $30,000. The company’s business model includes both advertising and subscriptions.
Regarding the crowdfunding campaign, the company has raised almost $62,000 from 99 investors, and the valuation is $18.4 million. The minimum investment is $249.84.
Founded in 2006, Alelo develops artificial intelligence- (AI) powered avatar systems for training. The company currently has more than 500,000 users and has generated more than $55 million in revenue since inception.
The company has been particularly successful with getting adoption from governmental agencies and academic institutions. Some of the customers include the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Army and the Office of Naval Research.
But Alelo is leveraging its experience to move into to the corporate training market. With the novel coronavirus pandemic, there was been a surge in demand for this. The training is primarily focused on areas like communications, team building and language skills. In turn, these types of “soft skills” can be boost workforce productivity.
While systems like Zoom (NASDAQ:ZM) have been effective for training, the experience is can be too passive. But Alelo’s immersive and interactive approach can provide a cost-effective approach. Keep in mind that the company’s system involves realistic virtual environments and online conversations with virtual humans. Think of it as like having a personal tutor.
As for the crowdfunding campaign, the company has raised above $410,000 from 658 investors and the minimum investment is $276. The valuation has been set at $10.5 million.
Atmos Home’s goal is to become the Apple of the smart home. This is certainly ambitious. But then again, the market potential is massive. According to research from Serviceable Available Market, about 4.4 million households are looking for a smart home control system.
This seems reasonable because there are a large number of apps that have various use cases and do not necessarily integrate well. This can easily lead to awful experiences.
But the AtmosControl control system is focused on solving the problem (the product is currently in beta). It allows connections across the five most common smart home protocols, such as Wifi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, Z-Wave, and Infrared. These are all then controlled by voice, touch, smartphone and gestures.
Additionally, another key to AtmosControl is a focus on privacy. The company does not save the data or use it for ads. This is important because of the personal nature of smart home systems. Do you want microphones to record what’s happening? Probably not.
Since inception, the company has raised over $1.2 million and $900,000 of this has come from Luminance Brands, which is a strategic partner. In terms of the crowdfunding campaign, the company has raised more than $820,000 from more than 1,000 investors and the valuation is $12 million.
Tamar Lucien Blue is an alum of the famed Y Combinator accelerator and a serial entrepreneur. She started her first venture in 2015, which was focused on developing curated wellness kits for corporations.
This provided a good foundation for her current startup: MentalHappy. This is an online community that provides tools for mental health. The environment is secure and comforting. There is also a self-serve version as well as access to counseling from professionals.
To help build the company, Blue brought on board Amy Leo as the chief positive psychologist. She has been a therapist for more than 15 years and has a degree in psychology from Johns Hopkins University. Leo is also a noted author and speaker.
To ramp up growth, the company has been pursuing partnerships, such as with Devoted Health. It also has relationships with more than 30 employers like SAP (NYSE:SAP), eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) and Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX). The company charges $7 per person per month for the service.
Regarding the equity crowdfunding campaign, MentalHappy has raised more than $179,000 from 571 investors, and the valuation is $6 million. The minimum investment is $100.13.
xCraft Enterprises calls itself the “American Drone Company.” Consider that the firm got its launch on ABC’s Shark Tank program and raised about $1.5 million.
Even though the market is large – projected to reach $86.8 billion by 2035 — it is also highly competitive. The mega player in the space is China’s DJI Innovations. The estimate is that the market share is about 70% across the globe.
But xCraft Enterprises thinks it has a better approach. For the most part, the company’s drones fly at high speeds but also have sophisticated communication systems. For example, the Panadrone can fly up to 400 feet and remain in the air for over 24 hours.
As for the equity crowdfunding campaign, the company has received commitments of over $256,000 from 276 investors and the valuation is $35 million. Before this, there were other campaigns that raised over $2.1 million.
Founded in 2018, Veriglif has been developing a platform that helps people manage and monetize their personal digital information. For now, it has been mostly the tech industry that has benefited from the explosion of data, such as Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) and Snap (NYSE:SNAP). But Veriglif wants to level the playing field.
With the company’s technology, a person can monitor and reclaim his or her personal data, which will be placed in a portal. Then there will be various third-parties that can pay for this. But of course, the environment will be in strict compliance with privacy laws.
In the investor materials for Veriglif, the company has indicated that the core functions are complete and that there will soon be a soft launch. The goal will be to onboard more than 30,000 users per month.
The target market will be for consumer insights, such as with surveys and polls. The spending on this category is at $47 billion in the U.S. and $80 billion across the globe.
As for the equity crowdfunding campaign, the company has raised over $97,000 from nearly 123 investors and the valuation is at $7 million.
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.