Venture capital is a bit misunderstood due to the press venture investments often receive. It seems like every week or so the news is covering some start-up that raised an inordinate amount of venture capital for an idea that sounds, at best, a bit shaky.
But that tenuous relationship between a business idea and its application is what turns an investment into an injection of venture capital. Venture capital is, in a nutshell, the money that is invested into an early-stage, high-risk company that is believed to have the potential to yield huge returns, if it succeeds.
Recently, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) passed amid much hoopla about how this legislation would be the stimulus that jumpstarts the economy and enables people like you and me to invest in all of these startups without becoming accredited investors, as was previously required by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Now if you’re a small business owner, the floodgates will open, and you’ll be able to raise tons of money to accelerate your business, right? Probably not. While the SEC is still in its evaluation stage and the actual regulations have not been written, some things are already clear from the text of the JOBS Act bill itself. First, you will only be able to raise a total of $1 million in the course of 12 months, and individual investors will only be able to contribute the greater of $2,000 or 5% of net income if they make less than $100,000 per year or have a net worth of less than $100,000, and they will only be able to contribute the greater of 10% of the net income or net worth of the investor if the investor makes or is worth more than $100,000 and not to exceed $100,000 (see Section 302(a) of the text of the bill for details). So, raising $1,000,000 will require either at least 10 high income/net worth investors or at least 500 lower net worth investors, and probably many more than that.