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Own a piece of Rodeo Donut — or another Capitol Hill food+drink startup, soon — thanks to federal law change

A platform allowing ordinary people to invest in startups launched this month and a Capitol Hill donut operation is among the first companies to have its shares up for sale.

Rodeo Donut opened last year as a popup project inside Cupcake Royale. Since then Rodeo has expanded to Cupcake Royale’s Ballard location and developed a diehard donut following with creations like apple bacon bourbon fritters, and caviar and cream donuts.

Now owners Nicki Kerbs and Jody Hall want to venture further into the donut frontier by opening a brick-and-mortar shop with a focus on “fresh fried buttery brioche donuts, fried chicken and strong whiskey drinks.”

To do it, Rodeo is taking advantage of new crowd investing platform called WeFunder and a federal law change allowing startups to raise capital from non-credited investors (typically defined as those who make less than $200,000 a year). In October, the Securities and Exchange Commission approved rules for crowd investing, first approved in the 2012 JOBS Act.

In other words, you can now buy shares of Rodeo Donut and throw your financial lot in with Seattle’s cowgirl donut slingers. The popup donut shop will also be offering its employees stock options.

“We’ve had so many that have wanted to take us to other cities or other states or wanted to invest,” Hall said. “We like that this kind of levels the playing field.”

The minimum investment is $100. So far Rodeo has raised just over $7,000 towards its $50,000 – $100,000 goal. The Rodeo owners are currently shopping around for their first location. Hall said Capitol Hill would be a “no-brainer,” if they could find the right space.

WeFunder was one of the first companies out of the gate to offer crowd investing, where investments and contracts are all drawn up and exchanged on the site. The company selected Rodeo as one of the first companies to feature on its new platform.

Of course the risks with startup investing are substantial and even more so for those who can’t afford to loose all the money they put in. According to WeFunder, “Startups either win big or go bankrupt. You could lose all your money. Consider them more like socially-good lottery tickets.” Existing crowd fund platforms like Kickstarter allow fundraising, but do not facilitate investing. You can read more about WeFunder investing here.

Meanwhile, Hall is privately fundraising to expand The Goodship, her marijuana edibles company. Since marijuana remains illegal the federal level, you’ll have to wait for WeedFunder to become a reality.

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4 years ago

“Existing crowd fund platforms like Kickstarter allow fundraising, but do not facilitate investing.”

That’s not entirely true – Fig launched about a year ago and does allow investors for its projects, alongside traditional crowdfunding.