Startups

You can now back Philly startups with crypto — but there’s a catch

The token sale for the GO Philly Fund, a joint initiative of Ben Franklin Technology Partners and EPAM Systems, is now live.

The famed startup wall at Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania's offices.

(Courtesy photo)

The blockchain component to the $50 million Global Opportunity Philadelphia Fund (GO Philly Fund), a startup-fueling initiative from Ben Franklin Technology Partners and EPAM System, is now live.

After an initial close of $15 million, the fund — which also has participation from Provco Group, Fulton Bank and SRI Capital — has begun offering digital securities on an Ethereum blockchain, with help from Redwood, Calif.-based Securitize. 

Blockchain and cryptocurrency-focused news site Coindesk reports that each GO Philly token “will be available for purchase by accredited investors at $0.50 apiece, in dollars, Bitcoin or ether.”

Heads up, though: The minimum investment is a cool $250,000.

“The GO Philly Fund intends to utilize rapidly emerging standard technologies to streamline and manage investor interests in the fund,” said Scott Nissenbaum, Ben Franklin’s chief investment officer. “Through the use of blockchain technology, we are now facilitating and streamlining individual investor participation from around the globe while allowing for cryptocurrency to be accepted.”

(Here’s a quick explainer on what a “token” is.)

Easily the larger investor in Philly-area early-stage companies, Ben Franklin pumped over $8 million into 51 companies last year. Since March of last year, it also oversees the investment component of the City of Philadelphia’s StartupPHL initiative, from which it already invested $527,000 in 16 companies.

When the GO Philly Fund was announced in February, Ben Franklin CEO RoseAnn B. Rosenthal said the investment vehicle meant the ability to seize more opportunities in Philly’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

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“Last year, we reviewed nearly 1,000 promising young companies before ultimately selecting to invest in 50 of them,” said Rosenthal. “This fund allows us to expand our regional impact by inviting a new group of investors to share in the opportunities our region offers.”

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