As a veteran, nothing matters more than those serving alongside you. While my fellow veterans in the crowdfunding and marketplace lending space are no longer serving actively (though some are still in the reserves), I wanted to honor my fellow vets for their past service and the work they are doing for the veteran communities now through their respective businesses in the space.
Happy Veterans Day!
TwistRate – http://www.twistrate.com/en
TwistRate is Americans coming together online to build the innovations, dreams and causes of America’s veterans, service members, law enforcement, outdoor enthusiasts and fishing and hunting communities. TwistRate is a safe and secure platform that brings together people’s passions and ideas with people like themselves to fund and share with like-minded people. Part social, part finance, all American, we bring your ideas to life, giving you the tools to take your great ideas to others in your community so they can benefit from your ingenuity. TwistRate brings communities together to fund their own, build their own and make their own – all on their own. TwistRate was founded by Special Operations veterans who wanted to create a special place for the community that gives their all – protecting and serving their country, their cities, their neighbors and their brothers in arms. TwistRate and you make the American Dream a reality by connecting the dreamers with the dollars.
StreetShares – https://streetshares.com/
Remember when funding Mainstreet was a priority in America? Yeah, so does StreetShares. After World War II, millions of Americans became business owners. This “greatest generation” sparked an economic boom, and America flourished. Banks were smaller, community-oriented and supporters of small business. Additionally, business owners had access to small business loans. Today’s small business owners face a very different environment. Strict lending regulations, big bank consolidation and dwindling community banks leave small businesses with very few options. Business owners get to choose between difficult-to-obtain bank loans and costly online loan sharks. In 2013, StreetShares co-founders met for breakfast at a local diner to brainstorm a new Mainstreet funding source. The founding team had one vision: to breathe new life into the American Dream…and StreetShares was born. StreetShares is a free, members-only marketplace where investors bid to provide shares of commercial loans to Mainstreet businesses of their choosing. Business owners are given the opportunity to “pitch” their loan request directly to investor members. StreetShares underwrites all loan requests and transparently co-invests in every loan on the StreetShares marketplace. They’re committed to getting capital into the hands of the newest generation of business owners. Take some time to get to know them.
Kickercon – http://kickercon.com/
Kickercon is a multi-platform convention, expo, boot-camp and music festival for the crowd funding community. Investing is permanently changing, thus changing how each investor and entrepreneur interacts. This conference pulls these general sectors together to educate and coordinate action toward new crowdfunding ventures, targeting high-level investors, real estate professionals, commercial real estate developers, entrepreneurs, inventors, engineers and civic and education directors.
Sprigster – http://www.sprigster.com/
Sprigster’s Boost A Hero program brings crowdfunding to returning veterans and spouses of active members of the U.S. military. Military veterans are highly trained, disciplined, mission-oriented leaders and, increasingly, unemployed and underutilized when their service is done. Sprigster’s Boost A Hero program was designed to provide veterans with the boost they need to get started as business owners. Crowdfunding is a new and innovative tool that permits large numbers of people to rally together with small contributions to achieve big goals. This is something anyone can do to help veterans. We can collaborate to get this done. Go to www.sprigster.com and boost a veteran now.
Vetstarter – http://www.vetstarter.org/
Vetstarter is a non-profit crowdfunding platform for honorably discharged service disabled veterans who want to start small businesses. Entrepreneurship is particularly well-suited for disabled veterans for a number of reasons. First is the fact that being a veteran is the #1 indicator of successful business ownership. One out of every 10 businesses is owned and operated by a veteran. Secondly, many disabled veterans have issues that prevent them from working for someone in a traditional 9-5 role. These conditions could be physical such as limited mobility, or emotional such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For some disabled veterans, starting their own business is the only option for employment after the military. Many have paid a heavy price for their service to our country, and as a community, we can help these young men and women achieve their goals and regain their independence. Vetstarter is a very unique and valuable resource for disabled veterans in that; 1. All contributions are tax deductible 2. 100% of your donation goes to the veteran. Vetstarter.org is made possible through an all-volunteer staff and is completely financed through the service connected disability pension of one of its board members. In the future, we may accept tax-deductible donations and corporate sponsorship, as well as support from the communities which we serve.
RepayVets – http://repayvets.com/
Welcome to RepayVets, started by Marlon Terrell, a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2002. After graduating, he joined the Submarine community and became a Nuclear Engineer. During his tenure at Annapolis and on the Submarine, he always had an ambition for business. After leaving the submarine, he returned to Annapolis to train our future Navy and Marine Corps Officers, in addition to obtaining his Master’s Degree in Leadership from the University of Maryland. At this point, Marlon knew it was time. Thus, he began the journey to develop his business. Several obstacles were present along the way, but the common struggle he stumbled upon was a lack of liquid funds necessary to propel his company to the next level. During a visit to his long-time friend and current business partner, Avery Robinson, they began catching up as usual and discussed their passion for business ownership and the frustrations that they incurred. He asked Marlon if he had ever heard of crowdfunding. At this time, Marlon was new to the idea, so they spent hours searching through crowdfunding platforms and learning more about this new way of raising money for small business. Through market research, they quickly realized the void that needed to be filled. There are several people like Marlon, who have served the country faithfully to maintain the American dream. Unfortunately, when it is time for these Veterans to pursue their dreams, they often lack the necessary funding and/or the appropriate channel to connect to capital sources. Their initial thought was, “How can we use this crowd-funding model to help our American heroes?” At the conclusion of the conversation, RepayVets was born! The only thing they need now is YOU! With your support, they will fund more Veteran’s dreams than any other organization that offers support to our military men and women. Become a hero to our Veterans by repaying them for their service! RepayVets allows American citizens to combat the fiscal challenges that military veterans face every day, such as homelessness, costs of coping with PTSD and family poverty by making it simple to Repay Our Military Veterans via their online crowdfunding platform that directly finances the hopes and dreams of military vets and their families. Every week, amazing people contribute to help military veterans live out their dreams in a variety of campaigns. Patriotism at its best! Military veterans fight for our freedom so we can live out our dreams. Now YOU have the opportunity to directly help a veteran in YOUR community live out his/her dreams and daily necessities.
National Crowdfunding Association – Crowdfunding American Veterans – http://www.nlcfa.org/crowdfunding-american-veterans.html
This committee is tasked with bringing crowdfunding to veterans…helping them start new businesses or expand their current businesses utilizing crowdfunding. This commitment was born from the NLCFA’s involvement in the Clinton Global Initiative – America.
Endless Crowds – http://www.endlesscrowds.com/
Endless Crowds is the fundraising platform for Military Veterans and First Responders (EMS, Firefighters, Police, etc.) to raise money for entrepreneurial endeavors and community initiatives. Endless Crowds allows users to pool their resources and ideas together, in an effort to rebuild and revitalize their communities and individual lives. By harnessing the power of a collection of individuals, our users will be able to rally the support needed in order for their projects and businesses to materialize. At Endless Crowds, we understand the challenges that face our communities are better solved together, rather than alone.
ID.me – https://www.id.me/
ID.me began as a tool that allowed members of the military (and then students, first responders, teachers and more) to securely submit and prove their identity online. This new capability gave military members access to the thousands of discounts and exclusive savings they could previously only receive in-store. The success of that project led us to wonder – what if we opened up our group-affiliated discounts and offered ID.me-exclusive deals to everyone? So we made ID.me a place where everyone can access the best deals and earn cash back on almost everything they buy online. Our members can securely prove their group IDs through our site, so military and student members receive exclusive offers. And now, even non-group-affiliated ID.me members can earn cash back just by shopping through our site, sharing ID.me with friends and personalizing their accounts. One thing that hasn’t changed is our promise to our members: the personal information you add to your ID.me account is always protected and under your control. We limit the type of data our partners can request, and at any time you can revoke a partner’s access or delete your account and information entirely. We’ll never share, sell or rent your data to third parties, and we use bank grade security to keep your information safe.
Joy Schoffler, principal of Leverage PR, is a nationally recognized author and speaker in the field of financial services communications. Prior to launching Leverage, Joy served as director of acquisitions for the Inc. award-winning private equity firm The PPA Group. Joy has written for a number of publications including Entrepreneur.com, Social Media Monthly and MarketingProfs. She is also a contributing author for the Wiley-published Bloomberg Media book “Crowdfunding: The Ultimate Guide to Raising Capital on the Internet.” In 2014, she was named an Entrepreneur of the Year through the Stiletto Woman in Business Awards, won the Women Communicators of Austin Outstanding Austin Communicator Award and was a finalist for Austin Under 40. Joy previously served in the Army Reserves and Texas State Guard as both a Finance and Public Affairs Officer.