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Will Calgarians ‘jump on’ chance to invest in discount flight service?
Ryan White, CTV Calgary
Published Thursday, April 24, 2014 3:40PM MDT
Last Updated Thursday, April 24, 2014 6:52PM MDT
The CEO of a Calgary-based company believes his business is the first in North America to sell stock through crowdfunding, where an organization receives funds for a project by issuing an online appeal to the public.
Typically, contributors to crowdfunding efforts receive a non-monetary reward in exchange for their money. Examples of rewards include name recognition in independent film credits or receiving a prototype of a product.
Roger Jewett's start-up company, Jump On, uses the airplanes Calgary oil companies charter to transport workers to Fort McMurray to offer low cost weekend getaway to members of the public.
Jewett markets to potential customers through social media. Flights require a minimum number of passengers to ‘jump on’ and purchase the deal or the flight never leaves Calgary.
The idea has worked seven times to date and Jewett has his sights set on expanding the business. The CEO has turned to the internet with a call for investors.
“We’ve raised $20,000 so far, in total, and, right now, we have strong expressions of interest from another $40,000,” said Jewett.
Another Calgary entrepreneur, Sandi Gilbert, created an online platform called Seedups which allows private business owners to offer shares to the public worth up to $500,000.
“If a company needs to raise half a million dollars and they get a group of high net worth individuals together and say ‘I need a $100,000 cheque each’ and they try and get that done and it may take them forever to do because there's not many high net worth individuals out there,” explains Gilbert. “Now, with this opportunity, young investors that may only want to invest a couple thousand dollars can get access to deals that they didn't even know were happening.”
Officials with the Alberta Securities Commission say they’re keeping a close eye on crowdfunding, which is becoming a trend throughout the financial world.
“Crowdfunding is an issue that's global,” said Mark Dickey, Alberta Securities Commission. “Countries across the world are looking at this now and have to figure out ways to make it work for the companies and for investors."
Alberta currently offers an exemption that allows individual investments of up to $2,000, with a company’s maximum allowance of collected funds capped at $500,000. Investors are required to sign documents acknowledging the high risk on their investment.
Six provinces are now considering changes to securities laws to allow for crowdfunding.
With files from CTV's Lea Williams-Doherty