truCrowd connects companies and investors in city’s startup scene

By Elizabeth Czapski | Community Contributor

Published July 31, 2018

Crowdfunding can be used to raise money for anything from financing a film or helping people in need. Now, one company, truCrowd Illinois, figured out how crowdfunding can launch startups.

“The easiest way to describe it is if you’ve heard of Kickstarter [or] Indiegogo where you can put money in a project and maybe get a thing, a t-shirt or a hat or some experience or even a product,” said Florence Hardy, 36, CEO of truCrowd Illinois and COO of the national platform. “What we do instead of that, is that if you [invest in] a business…in return you get ownership in that business.”

Located at 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, truCrowd, which also has branches in Florida and Texas as well as a national platform, requires startups to complete an application process to be listed on the site. Companies that make the cut need to be “willing to take on debt or sell equity,” not just look for donations, Hardy said. They also need to have a goal of at least $50,000 and have a solid management team.

The startup scene in Chicago is small, but vibrant and dynamic, Hardy said. truCrowd accepts all kinds of startups and Hardy described the platform as “industry agnostic” with companies ranging from entertainment to transportation to finance. She explained the most successful companies tend to be ones that are, “looking for consumers as their end user and not other businesses.”

One thing the companies do have in common though is size. truCrowd specializes in pairing smaller companies with investors whom Hardy said are, usually individuals who are used to investing, but they never had the opportunity to invest in small businesses before.”

The main goal of the platform is to “democratize the investment landscape” and to “introduce investment opportunities to the masses” because “investing in private companies was once something that was only for the very, very rich,” Hardy said. truCrowd also wants to help startups get funding when they might be denied by banks or other institutions.

Published July 31, 2018

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