Investing in startups and early stage businesses can be very rewarding, but it involves a number of risks and challenges. If you choose to invest through , you need to be aware of and accept five important considerations.
The following list of risk factors does not purport to be a complete enumeration or explanation of the risks involved in investing in any of the companies pitching for investment via the website. Each individual company will be different and specific risks will attach to that investment. Prospective investors should review the individual companies’ pitches in their entirety and consult with their own advisers before making any decision to invest.
Any investment you make through the platform will be highly illiquid. While secondary markets exist, there is no highly liquid secondary market for the shares of the investee company. This means that you are unlikely to be able to sell your shares until and unless the investee company floats on a securities exchange or is bought by another company. Even for a successful business, a flotation or purchase is unlikely to occur for a number a years from the time you make your investment.
Investing in startups should only be done as part of a diversified portfolio. This means that you should invest relatively small amounts in multiple businesses rather than a lot in one or two businesses. It also means that you should invest only a small proportion of your investable capital in startups as an asset class, with the majority of your investable capital invested in safer, more liquid assets.
Startups and early stage businesses rarely pay dividends. This means that if you invest in a business through the platform, even if it is successful you are unlikely to see any return of capital or profit until you are able to sell your shares in the investee company. Even for a successful business, this is unlikely to occur for a number of years from the time you make your investment.
Any investment you make through the platform is likely to be subject to dilution. This means that if the business raises additional capital at a later date, it will issue new shares of the investee company to the new investors, and the percentage of the investee company that you own will decline. These new shares may also have certain preferential rights to dividends, sale proceeds and other matters, and the exercise of these rights may work to your disadvantage. Your investment may also be subject to dilution as a result of the grant of options (or similar rights to acquire shares) to employees of, service providers to or certain other parties connected with, the investee company.
Most startups fail, and if you invest in a business through the platform, it is more likely that you will lose all of your invested capital than that you will see a return of capital or a profit. You should not invest more money through the platform than you can afford to lose without altering your standard of living.
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