As a serial entrepreneur who now runs an Israel-based platform that helps companies raise money from investors, Jon Medved has seen more than a few locales.
“If you’re looking for innovation outside of Silicon Valley in the states, you can really do no better than Maryland,” said Medved, the CEO of OurCrowd.
Medved sees such promise in the Land of Pleasant Living that he wants to help Israel’s startup community connect here. In the process, OurCrowd could help address one of the local startup community’s primary needs: access to early-stage capital.
Earlier this year, OurCrowd formed a partnership with the Maryland Israel/Development Center (MIDC). The two entities are looking to find companies to connect with OurCrowd’s network.
OurCrowd is currently the world’s largest platform for equity crowdfunding, Medved calls it “Kickstarter for millionaires.” Legalized through the federal JOBS Act of 2012, equity crowdfunding allows accredited investors to give small amounts of money to startups that apply for the program. (Editor’s note: For more on equity crowdfunding, check out our most recent Technical.ly Podcast.)
Since OurCrowd only promotes companies that apply and have been vetted, the partnership with MIDC will help the company identify potential startups.
A quick scan of OurCrowd’s portfolio shows companies have raised as little as $52,000 and as much as $3.3 million. Inherent in equity crowdfunding is the idea that companies and investors can connect outside of the usual channels like investment clubs and venture capital funds.
Medved spoke of a feeling among the wider investment community that investing in startups at the earliest stage is seen as something of a closed system that only people with access to companies in Silicon Valley.
With OurCrowd, he said, “You’re opening it up to a much wider audience.”
The idea, of course, is that startups that need money also benefit from having more potential investors in the pool.
“These companies, financial capital is the air they breathe,” said Barry Bogage, executive director of the Maryland Israel Development Center. “Without it, they’re going nowhere. We want to have deals happen.”
True to MIDC’s mission of “matchmaking” between companies and resources in Maryland and Israel, the two entities also aim to help introduce Israeli startups to Maryland. Medved spoke of Israel as “Startup Nation,” with companies frequently looking to expand and take advantage of resources elsewhere in the world as they grow.
“We’re hoping more and more will choose Maryland,” Medved said.