Equity crowdfunding platform Wefunder was among the the companies featured at Benzinga’s “2022 Alternative Investments Listmaker Event.”
This year’s Listmakers have made major contributions to the industry either by introducing new alternative investments to the market or by making these investments more accessible for the everyday investor.
Wefunder has played a fundamental role in the development of crowdfunding platforms. The company has provided access to startup investments for more than 1 million investors who have funded over 1,700 founders.
“We were founded on the premise that we wanted to democratize access to capital,” Wefunder’s Justin Renfro said Wednesday during Benzinga’s Listmaker Event.
Wefunder operates as a technology platform designed to connect startups and investors. The company’s average funding round is about $500,000, but the range is from $50,000 to $5 million, according to Renfro.
Wefunder has seen its business accelerate following industry regulations imposed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commision last year, Renfro said.
The crowdfunding cap was raised from $1 million to $5 million, and individual investors using crowdfunding platforms are no longer listed individually, but are rather pooled into groups which looks more attractive and is much cleaner for the companies, he said.
As a result, “better companies are exploring regulation crowdfunding as an option,” Renfro said.
Renfro went on to talk about different investment strategies, potential risks and more.
A number of crowdfunding companies made the list this year.
Here is a look at the other 2022 Benzinga Alternative Investments Listmakers:
CrowdStreet is a commercial real estate crowdfunding platform that has been launching some of the most exciting offerings on the market. The company has a steady flow of new deals, so investors can find new opportunities almost every week.
Red Swan CRE
The Red Swan CRE Marketplace is bringing blockchain to the world of commercial real estate investing. The platform allows deal sponsors to issue equity in properties as digital tokens, which can later be traded on the platform’s secondary market.
Blockchain provides a much simpler, faster, and less expensive way for sponsors to raise capital. This means higher potential returns for the investor. In addition to being able to invest with regular USD fiat and stable coins pegged to the USD, the company recently launched two offerings that can be invested in with Dogecoin.
Cadre offers investors the option to add commercial real estate to their portfolios through its Direct Access Fund or by selecting individual deals to invest in. The company also provides a secondary market to provide potential liquidity options to its investors. Eligible assets can be listed during quarterly secondary market windows after holding an investment for a minimum of just six months.
StartEngine built a name for themselves with its equity crowdfunding portal that offers retail investors the ability to invest in a variety of exciting new startups with minimum investments as low as $100. Other assets, too, are available on the platform including fine art and the StartEngine Real Estate REIT. The company also launched its secondary marketplace, allowing investors to buy and sell shares of certain startups. This is a major innovation for alternative investments because it’s providing liquidity in an otherwise highly illiquid asset class.
Masterworks has opened up the world of blue-chip art investing to the masses through its platform that sells shares of contemporary artworks that are expected to appreciate in value. Individuals can invest in new offerings that are regularly added to the platform or buy shares of past offerings on Masterworks’ secondary market. Paintings offered on the platform have included works from artists such as Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and several others. This type of art would be quite difficult for most people to invest in since many of the paintings are valued at well over $1 million.
Wefunder is not only one of the largest equity crowdfunding platforms in the world, but the company also helped create the industry as we know it today. The company lobbied Congress to help make crowdfunding available for non-accredited investors. Wefunder has provided access to startup investments to over 1 million investors who have funded over 1,700 founders. Today, Wefunder is the No. 1 Regulation CF portal, with a 42 percent market share.
Arrived Homes has made investing in rental properties extremely simple and affordable. Instead of searching for a property, arranging financing then dealing with the headaches of being a landlord, investors can purchase shares of professionally managed rental properties for as little as $100 within minutes. The company acquires properties in some of the best rental markets in the country, finds the tenants, and deals with all of the property management responsibilities while passive investors simply collect their share of the cash flow each quarter and wait for the property to increase in value over time.
YieldStreet offers a diverse range of offerings for a variety of alternative investment funds similar to those to which only the wealthiest investors have traditionally had access. Investors can use YieldStreet to diversify across several alternative asset classes with a single platform. Recent offerings on YieldStreet have included funds for commercial real estate equity, luxury car lease portfolios, structured notes, fine art, litigation finance, and several others.
Farmland is an often overlooked asset class among most retail investors, but it has proven to be one of the most consistent and reliable high-yield investments available. AcreTrader’s crowdfunding platform allows individual investors to buy equity shares in cash-yielding farmland across the globe. Past offerings have included farms that produce avocados, pecans, walnuts, corn, soy, citrus, and other cash crops.
Groundfloor offers an alternative real estate investing option to the typical equity crowdfunding and REIT platforms. The company provides short-term high-interest loans to real estate investors and builders for the renovation or construction of residential properties, then sells portions of those loans with a minimum investment of only $10.
The platform typically has anywhere from 50 to 70 loans available to invest in at any given time with new offerings being added weekly. Since loan terms typically range from six to 12 months, investors are able to realize a return much more quickly than with other real estate investment options.
Republic is an equity crowdfunding platform that built its reputation by offering investment opportunities in startups, but has been adding new exciting and innovative offerings to its platform. The company recently launched various real estate city funds, allowing individuals to invest across entire markets in cities like Miami, Dallas, and Austin, but has taken real estate investing to the next level with its Realm Metaverse Real Estate offering to invest in a diversified portfolio of digital real estate NFTs across various metaverses.
Alto IRA provides self-directed IRAs that allow individuals to add alternative assets to their retirement accounts. Investors can start a new IRA or roll over an existing IRA to invest in over 75 different alternative investment platforms. Investors can benefit from the tax advantages offered by a self-directed IRA while investing in assets like real estate, startups, and artwork through most of the platforms on this list. The company also has a Crypto IRA, which allows investors to add over 100 of the most popular cryptocurrencies to their retirement portfolio.
Lex-Markets is one of the newest players in the real estate crowdfunding space and is making commercial real estate available to investors with virtually any budget. The company allows non-accredited investors to directly invest in commercial real estate deals with minimum investments as low as $250. Investors can also trade their shares of commercial properties through the LEX ATS without minimum holding periods. This is a huge move forward in the commercial real estate industry, where holding periods are typically five to 10 years.
Modiv is a public, non-listed REIT that acquires, owns, and manages single-tenant net-lease industrial, retail, and office real estate throughout the United States, with a focus on strategically important and mission critical properties. Effective Nov. 24, 2021, Modiv closed its Regulation A crowdfunding offering. Check back for investor updates and information in the coming months.
Rares has turned collectable sneakers into an investable asset class by securitizing some of the most rare and valuable sneakers then selling shares for as little as $10. Investors can then hold their shares until Rares determines the best time to sell the shoes and liquidate the asset, or sell their shares on the platform’s secondary market. Many of the sneakers on the platform aren’t ones that the average individual can easily access. One of the most recent offerings is for the Nike Air Yeezy I Prototype, worn by Kanye West during his performance at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards in 2008, which is now the world’s most expensive pair of sneakers.
Vinovest allows investors and wine connoisseurs alike to build portfolios of investment grade wine that’s expected to increase in value over time. The company’s Master Sommeliers combine their expertise with quantitative investment models to curate wine portfolios that can either be stored in Vinovest’s network of storage facilities or sent directly to the investor. The value of each bottle of wine can be tracked through an investment dashboard and listed for sale at any time, but Vinovest’s experts notify investors when the wine has aged to maturity and reached the peak selling point.
Rocket Dollar lets people unlock IRA/401(k) money to invest in alternative and private assets such as real estate, crypto, startups, private equity, venture, and more with no taxes.
By Adam Eckert
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