Invest in and support local businesses
Small businesses help make communities a home. Whether it’s your favorite bakery or your trusted dry cleaners, small businesses are very important to your community. Today’s featured NY-based startup, Bolstr, gives small businesses the opportunity to raise money from local residents in their community to help them grow and thrive.
Bolstr simplifies small business capital with step-by-step guidance, fair deal terms, investor analytics, social deal tools, and secure transactions. It is the first crowdfunding platform that focuses on adding liquidity to main street small businesses and was the only platform that is able to operate pre-JOBS Act.
Learn more about how Bolstr got its start from founders Larry Baker & Charlie Tribbett.
What inspired you to start your company?
Having grown up around small businesses in Maine and Chicago, as well as seeing the difficulty all businesses faced to access capital while working in finance during the recession we were inspired to help bolster the economy by giving small businesses the opportunity to easily raise money from local individuals in their community in order to grow, thrive, and receive local grassroots support from their local investors.
Tell us something unique about you and your co-founder?
Bolstr’s innovative approach to access to capital for small businesses was founded by Larry Baker and Charlie Tribbett. Larry and Charlie met during an internship in Investment banking in NYC seven years ago and have been friends ever since. The third member of the team, Jon Kinney, has been a great addition and instrumental in taking Bolstr from concept to reality.
Tell us about your product or service.
Bolstr is a crowdfunding platform that empowers communities to invest in local small businesses. Through Bolstr, we have created a marketplace where individuals can invest in and support the local small businesses that make their communities home.
We are the first crowdfunding platform focused on adding liquidity to main street small businesses and the only platform able to legally operate pre-JOBS Act. We have worked tirelessly along with our legal counsel to create a model that works within the current regulatory model.
What problem does your product or service solve?
The banking model for small business lending is fundamentally broken. Small Businesses are, more times than not, denied small business loans from their local community banks, unable to utilize home equity due to the crash in housing values, and forced to use expensive alternative sources of capital to support their businesses.
Bolstr provides a new innovative solution for local main street small businesses to access the capital needed to hire employees, replace a piece of machinery, purchase inventory, and overall grow their businesses.
What are your startup's three biggest challenges to growth?
1. Getting the word out to small businesses that there is a new innovative, and cost effective route to accessing capital
2. Educating small businesses that Bolstr is a cheaper, less risky alternative for them to easily access capital
3. The level of “noise” currently in the crowdfunding space that has caused many to associate Bolstr in a generalized bucket, despite our specific focus and differentiated product
How has the Startup America Partnership helped you overcome these challenges to growth?
The Startup America Partnership has been instrumental in helping us to get the word out on Bolstr. This is a great program that selflessly promotes its members and continuously fights to offer assistance in the form of resources, press, and notoriety.
What Startup America Member Benefits have you used?
The most valuable benefit of this program came in the form of an introduction from Scott Case. While accompanying the Startup America team to ring the bell at the NYSE, Scott made an introduction to the CEO of Accion USA that resulted in a strategic partnership between our two organizations. Thanks Scott!
Why should startups join Startup America?
I can’t think of a reason why startups shouldn’t join the Startup America Partnership. If you are interested in growing your business and graduating from being a startup to a viable on-going business, then this initiative can be instrumental in helping you get there.
What is the startup culture like in your City/State?
The startup culture in New York City is incredible. It is a burgeoning environment within a city that has a ton of resources, especially for a fintech startup. From a talent standpoint, NYC has some of the most creative and talented product and engineering minds in the country, and from a capital standpoint now ranks second only behind Silicon Valley when it comes to the amount of capital VC’s are putting to work.
Although there are many crowdfunding platforms entering the market Bolstr is specifically unique and distinguished for the following reasons:
1. We are focused on empowering individuals to invest in local main street small businesses as opposed to the high growth tech sector.
2. We do not limit the types of investors that can participate. We allow Small Businesses to raise capital from accredited and unaccredited investors, and help them easily navigate the legal and regulatory hurdles that come with it
3. We are not a donation based platform, and only offer investment structures that provide near-term liquidity events to investors, the first being a revenue sharing agreement where the businesses shares a percentage of top line revenues with investors over a defined period of time.
4. We are the only investment based crowdfunding platform able to operate today, in the current regulatory environment while others wait for the JOBs Act to be enacted in 2013
5. We are operating today! If you know a local main st. small business that is in need of capital, we would love to talk to them!
Learn more and connect with Bolstr here:
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