In early April, TF Blockchain interviewed Darren Marble, CEO and Co-Founder of Issuance,(issuance.com), a financial marketing firm based in Los Angeles, CA. Darren is also a Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Crush Capital, which is the creator/owner of the “Going Public” series on TV. Darren spoke to TF Blockchain about how fundraising, IPOs, mini-IPOs, REG A+, ICOs, the current state of the market and lessons learned early on as an entrepreneur. This article is a follow up to that interview.
Darren Marble has learned many lessons as an entrepreneur. One of the most pivotal lessons learned happened years ago when Darren and a Co-Founder had a company that was marketing kickstarter and indiegogo campaigns. They created a very small, agency-like business, charging fees to entrepreneurs and filmmakers, that were raising small amounts of capital to launch their dream company, produce their film, or write a book, and they would sell these deals for $2500/month, run a campaign for two months, give the entrepreneur a social media/marketing resource, and a PR person. Darren and his Co-Founder did this for about two years, and were about to give up, until one fateful meeting with a potential client who wanted to raise money for a grandiose film project. This client was a European entrepreneur, had money, and after listening to the man talk about this glorious kickstarter campaign, Darren told him, "Listen man, for your project it's going to be $50K because of the work involved." Darren was thinking of the people he had to hire and the effort involved to run this successful campaign, yet that the man said, "Fifty thousand dollars? That sounds like a good deal. Why don't we do it!" For Darren and his Co-Founder, that was a game changer. It put them on the path to charge higher fees and do more interesting projects. One hundred campaigns later, they used that model to transition into the REG A+ space and started selling campaigns for $250K - $300K. That pivot, or game changer, ultimately led to them becoming the company they are today as a financial marketing firm/fintech company. And really, they got there by accident.
The lesson learned, as an entrepreneur, is to never undervalue your product or service. Ever since then, Darren has been testing the upper limits on how much he can sell a crowdfunding campaign for, and now they have helped companies raise $20-$30 million dollars in regulation A+ financing. They wouldn't have been able to do that for $2500, as it requires a substantial team and a strategy, a paid media campaign and technology stack, but it really was the "smartest thing" Darren and the company has ever done, and something Darren will never forget. Darren says that when he sees other entrepreneurs trying to make ends meet, "one of the most common denominators is that they are usually undervaluing their product or service and they should be charging a higher price." Darren says that entrepreneurs have a fear of charging higher prices because they, "don't think they'll be able to sell, or they think they won't be able to deliver, but the opposite is true." For some business, this will be the smartest decision they ever make.
In this interview, Darren explains Reg A+ funding, what it is, and how this exemption ever came to exist. Reg A+ is billed as a mini IPO, and it involves a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It allows a company to raise up to $75 million dollars. The company can then market their deal: social media, events, PR, and it allows anyone over the age of 18 to legally invest in that company regardless of if that individual is an accredited investor or not. This means that a company can market directly to their their customers.
Darren goes on to explain that Reg A+ funding is a good fit for companies that have some established history of operation. These companies have a customer base, a brand, or, if they are in the really early stages, they have a really great story - a story that will resonate with a mass audience of retail investors.
Darren continues the discussion of Reg A+ and institutional investing and touches on Crush Capital and the "Going Public" series. "Going Public" is an original series that Darren and his Co-Founder are launching, and the premise is that the viewers follow the stories of five founders as they raise capital and take their companies public to NASDAQ. For the first time, viewers are able to invest in the IPOs and invest at the IPO price. "Going Public" premiers in January, 2021.
Darren talks about the current market and the COVID19 fallout, and discusses bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and ICOs. Darren describes himself as an optimist, and says, "Americans are resilient, and we're innovators, and we're exceptionally diverse, and that diversity gives this country strength, so we will get through this. It may take many months, even a year(s), but we are resilient." Darren encourages entrepreneurs to be resilient and to continue to run their businesses as best they can adding, "pivot if you need to, innovate, try something new," and he looks forward to getting through to the other side.