Raising Money through Crowdfunding

King of Crowdfunding Howard Marks on Raising Money for Startups

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Howard Marks, pioneer in crowdfunding and founder of StartEngine, outlines his path in business and the difficulty in finding money when starting a business. StartEngine has been instrumental in helping raise millions of dollars for several early-stage startups through crowdfunding.


Prior to crowdfunding, only a few people could pass the early stages of starting a business. Friends and family would have been the prime source of financial help. Now, with the passing of the Title II (2012) and Title III (2016) of the JOBS Act, adults of any financial means are legally allowed to invest in startup businesses. Both Titles II and III of the Jumpstart Our Business Startup Act (JOBS Act) were put in place to encourage and enable funding for small businesses. Title II focuses on helping job creators get access to funds while Title III focuses on equity crowdfunding regulations.


Aside from this new investment tool, what is it that you need to focus on to be successful in raising money for your new business? Some key points according to Howard Marks’ experience in business:

–       Resilience and persistence in front of the naysayers. We have heard that in the world of bodybuilders as well as in business, whatever business you are doing (starting a new company or starting a degree) requires perseverance.

–       Understand the market you are going into.

–       Make sure your product will be viable 3 to 5 years from the time you start your business. Have a vision in the future so that you can stay in business.  Predict the future of your market.

–       Have a team where your CEO is great at marketing.  You need to be visible so that people can understand what they are investing in.


From here, the people who will invest in your company are the ones who truly believe in your product. More often than not those folks will be you most loyal supporters.


Up to recently, raising money for a new business was not a democratic affair. Mostly, it was people who already had ties to folks with money who could get money.  In other words, women and minorities were poorly represented in entrepreneurship up to just a few decades ago.  Crowdfunding is the best game-changing tool for all entrepreneurs to raise funds to start their dream businesses. Places like StartEngine are where the traditional “no” has been replaced with “yes, let’s get that money”.


Crowdfunding, also known as Online Public Offering (OPO), has been the best way for investors and entrepreneurs to grow innovative ideas. And as Mr Marks points out, one of the great things is that for an OPO to be successful the company you want to start doesn’t have to have a history. You mainly need to show a few key qualities, as pointed out above, to make sure your investors get to know you and the market you want to get into. After all, getting investors is mainly about creating a relationship of trust.


Other than that, the great news is that small businesses are not crippled by the Innovator’s Dilemma big businesses often go through. Once a business gets stuck in focusing only on what it does best and doesn’t look into how the future is being shaped by trends, failure often follows suit. So, follow your dream idea for a new business, stay nimble, adapt to your market!

For more advice and ideas from Howard Marks, follow his blog, or go on StartEngine.

You also can listen to Brian Mac Mahon (Expert Dojo) interviewing Howard to hear more on the topic of crowdfunding.

Expert Dojo’s Startup Spotlight – Tersa

Expert Dojo’s Startup Spotlight – Tersa


One of our latest members of Expert Dojo’s (www.expertdojo.com) startup accelerator is Tersa, founded by Ray Kelly. Ray has been a physical therapist for the last 15 years. He has also been a national soccer player for Australia and has played in the Irish premier league before he had multiple career-ending injuries.


Ray Kelly’s inspiration for “Tersa” came from multiple life-changing experiences. Before the age of 18, Ray endured three knee surgeries, which later moved him into practicing physical therapy and coaching strength and conditioning. His dedication was in helping patients through pain reduction, thus creating Tersa with his personal and 15 years of injury rehab, health, and wellness experience.


Tersa is a worldwide patented physical therapy training system, designed to solve the world’s most common pain and injuries. On average, our nation checks their phones 8 billion times a day, leading to an epidemic of pain and injuries. These discomforts later become major injuries and are direct results from digital technology. Tersa is a system that sells equipment, education, and mobile content to fitness and medical companies into resolving these injuries.


Ray Kelly has created a tool that actively breaks down muscle tension while realigning the body at the same time. Tersa has major support from leading surgeons, physical therapists, coaches, and athletes.


“Tersa” definition in Latin is to clean, be neat, and tidy, which is the company’s philosophy. Mr. Kelly explains that in order to stop the pain, an individual needs to treat it on a daily basis. Ray Kelly makes a comparison to his physical treatment to an individual’s daily hygiene regimen. He believes that in order to obtain results, a patient needs to practice every day, just as they would practice their daily oral hygiene regimen.


Not only does Tersa solve patients injuries; it also reduces the labor-intensive work for the physical therapists. Mr. Kelly expressed that his hands have been destroyed by working as a physical therapist for 15 years. Therefore, the Tersa tool and system provides the patient with instructions on how to use the tool on themselves, which creates a win-win solution for both the practitioner and the patients. Tersa is user-friendly and provides accessibility for patients to perform movement on occasions when physical therapists are not on sight. By quarter 1, Tersa plans on launching to businesses, with scalability to consumers in the near future.


Ray Kelly is currently looking for the perfect investor with a similar vision for Tersa. Recently, he was part of the Investor Festival at the Expert Dojo and has had follow-ups with some of Los Angeles’ greatest investors. Tersa is the startup you want to have an eye for!


Learn more at www.tersa.co

Check out Ray Kelly’s full interview at https://youtu.be/SLjCUtOMogU, or at our YouTube channel @ExpertDojo

Don’t forget to follow, like, & share our Linkedin, Instagram, and Twitter @expertdojo



Expert Dojo’s Startup Spotlight – Classic Stills

Expert Dojo’s Startup Spotlight – Classic Stills


One of Expert Dojo’s https://expertdojo.com members: Classic Stills is Rene Freling’s second startup venture. Rene has previous experience in digital media, general management, content and sales. His first startup, “Treat Angel”, was a monthly subscription costing $20 that encouraged members to treat themselves once a month. Treat Angel was a self-launched business and Rene quickly realized that he was in need of significant investment in order to scale. From his first startup, he learned many valuable lessons, one being that being a sole-founder is not ideal. Rene vocalized that “finding the right co-founder is difficult”, comparing it to a long-term relationship.


A few years later, Rene Freling founded Classic Stills. Classic Stills solves a problem for movie/TV studios and other companies with large photo archives. In phase one, Classic Stills is publishing official collections of  limited-edition prints from iconic movies and TV shows, capitalizing on a gap in the $256bn licensed products market. Long-term they plan to help monetize the vast archives of clients in entertainment, music and sports by building a publishing platform that uses machine learning and blockchain technology. The idea came from a realization that there is so much valuable IP in the form of classic photography that generates zero revenue and is never seen, despite the huge appetite for rare and iconic photos among pop culture fans. The hand framed prints, which are all numbered and certified, range from $149 up to $1000, depending on the size, with an entry level price point that’s affordable to the majority of pop culture fans. The stills are printed on archival photo paper and are produced through the chromogenic printing process. “The images are presented using preservation-grade mats, acid free hinging, protective UV acrylic and hand cut wooden frames”.


This past year, Classic Stills has agreed terms with several Hollywood Studios as well as HBO, BBC, and AMC. They were able to sign up these studios without any prior connections in the entertainment industry. Currently the company is focusing on their marketing strategy, price points, and securing global appealing content to sell globally. Classic Stills is looking for $300,000 from investors, to help with the marketing, salaries, and advances on their contracts with studios.


Check out his photography and fine art prints on https://classicstills.com.

Check out Rene Freling’s full interview at https://youtu.be/Wl8EikwmyAA, or at our YouTube channel @ExpertDojo

Don’t forget to follow, like, & share our Linkedin, Instagram, and Twitter @expertdojo

6 Points to Creating a Great Team

Advice from Sonya Sepahban

on Building a Strong Team for Startup Entrepreneurs.

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Sonya Sepahban, a strong supporter of women in Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) and angel investor with the Michigan Angel Fund (MAF) shares her ideas on how to build a strong base for beginner entrepreneurs.



It comes as no surprise that diversity is key to success in team building.  Not just gender and cultural diversity, it is also about having different backgrounds (social, interests…).  Research has shown how diversity will boost the potential for success in businesses, as described in this article from worldwide management consulting firm McKinsey and Company.

All in all, diversity in a team will enable you to tap into a wide-ranging set of solutions to problems an enterprise will bump into from time to time.



So, once you have your brilliant idea, surround yourself with great people.  Find folks that will support you and be a resource to you.  Network!  Find people who can mentor you and advise you during your path to establishing your business.  Go to gatherings where you can meet people with whom you can exchange ideas and from whom you can get help.  The more folks you talk to, the better the feel you get in the field you are going into.


Get ready for your investors

Of course, you also need to find investors.  But then you really need to show them you have done your homework about knowing your own strengths and weaknesses in your business.  For that you have to be honest with yourself and know your limitations:  you can’t be great in all areas!  You need to be aware of the things that will not work in your business.  All the while knowing where you are not so strong, focus on what you are good at, as Guy Kawasaki keeps telling the entrepreneurs he mentors.



Another point Sonya Sepahban emphasized: Be communicative with your team.  The most successful businesses are the ones where there is the most transparency.  Talk, ask questions, discuss things.  Create an environment where ideas can flow.  And communicate with your network: they can be your best soundboard to help you succeed.  The more you communicate, the greater the relationships you can establish with your supporters and your investors.


Be a listener

Then also learn to be a great listener.  This is where you can be a sponge to other people’s ideas and knowledge, to benefit you and your business.  Take time to just hear what people have to offer you.  If it’s something that you find hard to do (as it is for so many!), here are two short articles that outline the essentials in improving this skill.  First, just 3 simple ideas.  And then there are the 6 tips on becoming better at listening.


Be tenacious

Now you have your team, your network, and your investors.  You communicate and listen to your supporters’ input.  But business can take time and patience to get established.  This is where Sonya stresses how important tenacity to anybody starting a new business.  You must believe in your ideas.  Be tenacious in the process.  Develop your own way in feeling comfortable in the process, despite the possible failures.  There will be times of doubts and loneliness.


I highly recommend you listen to her podcast which you can find below. It is chock-full of great ideas that you don’t want to miss.

For more investor podcast episodes with the startup accelerator Expect Dojo, go to https://expertdojo.com/investor-podcast/


So, bring on the ideas!  Be tenacious!  Hang in there!

The Ultimate Pitching Championship

Join the Largest Startup Competition in the World here at Expert DOJO!


Join the most innovative startup competition in the world for a chance to win $1,000,000 in guaranteed investment.


Starting May 10th, 2018 contestants from all over the world can go to Expert DOJO’s website and book a time to pitch, submit your pitch video online or pitch at Techday & submit your video. Participants who enter The Cage will also have the opportunity to be featured on ViralHub’s TV Show. Do you have what it takes? Contest ends October 31, 2018.

To apply: https://expertdojo.com/upcapplication/