Seed At The Table is shaking up the traditional crowdfunding industry by creating a platform that prioritizes diversity and inclusivity.
With a mission to connect diverse entrepreneurs with investors, Seed At The Table offers a unique equity and debt crowdfunding model that stands apart from the rest.
In this interview, Founder and Head of Growth, Pierre Le Veaux shares the inspiration behind the creation of Seed At The Table, the platform’s crowdfunding model, the process for entrepreneurs to launch a campaign, and the company’s vision for the future of the industry.
What inspired you to create Seed At The Table?
Since I first stepped foot on a wall street investment banking trading floor I knew that “access” to information, people, and wealth/capital was one of the biggest predictors/drivers for success. Over my 10 year plus banking career I noticed that everyone on the floor had “access” whether born with it or earned, and it allowed them to experience life differently than the rest of the world.
With that same frame of thought, I saw how access directly impacted business and financial success, especially with respect to obtaining and preserving wealth. Those who grew up wealthy and/or with access were often afforded more opportunities to grow wealth and preserve it. In those same rooms, there weren’t many folks of color and definitely even fewer from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
I wanted to create an environment where common folks like my parents and relatives had access to the same information, capital, ideas, etc. as me and my investment banking colleagues. Seed is the platform that allows for exactly that, it’s a financial ecosystem that allows entrepreneurs, investors, and service providers to interact and exchange resources mostly financial in nature.
Can you describe the crowdfunding model you offer, and how it differs from other crowdfunding platforms?
Unlike other equity crowdfunding portals we do more than just help founders raise debt or equity capital from their networks. We’re also mission driven and have a passionate view on resource matching! From a mission perspective, we are highly understanding that every user that comes to our portal may have challenges that are “unique” and often require a different sense of patience, especially among marginalized communities.
Our focus is to ensure diverse founders have a place to transact and that investors from all walks of life have an opportunity to support marginalized founders while also gaining access to best-of-breed ideas and resources. We are truly a family sitting around a dinner table exchanging ideas and opportunities.
To that point, another differentiating factor is our concept of “family” in which we match seasoned business executives and proven entrepreneurs with companies on our platform who can benefit from official or unofficial advisory services. We do the same for users of our platform connecting them with resource providers and educational content that can be helpful to them. We’re more than a place for crowdfunding transactions.
How do you determine which campaigns to feature on the platform?
We are industry and growth stage agnostic meaning any size company or industry can apply. We have a preference for DTC companies or companies with high user engagement because research shows that your community and/or customer network is often your most viable investor base; however, we are open to all industries and sectors inclusive of DTC, B2B, CPG, Tech, Real Estate, etc.
Can you walk us through the process for entrepreneurs to launch a campaign on your platform? In what ways do you assist with this process?
The first step for every company visiting our ecosystem is to complete our Preliminary survey to give us insight into the viability of the business and other matching services. Regardless of whether the company is raising capital or is in need of an additional resource this is a required step that allows for our high-touch approach.
Companies raising capital are often referred to as issuers, and the next step for them is a call with our onboarding specialist to discuss their business and for them to gain an understanding of the operational process of onboarding (required documents, background check, due diligence, Form C).
Once approved by the Seed board, the issuer creates a campaign page inclusive of their fundraising goals and minimum investment amount to be reviewed by the Head of Marketing.
The campaign enters the “Testing the Waters” phase- a campaign link is created for the investor to send to a private network to gauge the success of the campaign. Investors are able to review the company profile & financials and “pledge” to invest once the campaign is live.
If the “Testing the Waters” profile aggregates 10% of the campaign minimum, the issuer moves to complete the filing process.
Once the Form C is completed and reviewed by a securities attorney the campaign is submitted to the SEC for approval and the campaign officially launches on the Seed site.
For all companies whether raising capital or not, we assist by matching to mentors/advisors, resource providers like AWS or Google, law firms for formation docs, marketing resources like our partner Power Digital, accounting resources, etc.
Some firms may not be a fit for community crowdfunding and realize they need a bank loan from a firm like JP Morgan or they may be VC-ready either way given our network and family we can facilitate intros accordingly.
We are legally a platform that allows investors both accredited and non-accredited to invest at lower dollar amounts but we really are a one-stop ecosystem serving all finance-related needs. Our network is robust and unmatched!
Can you share success stories from campaigns that have been funded through your platform?
A few stories of campaigns funded through our platform are Wear Oya and Row House Publishing. Wear Oya, a patent-approved fem-tech company, raised over $1 million and was selected by TechStars. The founder is one of only around 150 Black women to ever raise over $1 million.
Row House Publishing, an innovative publishing company amplifying often unheard diverse voices, also raised close to $1 million through our portal. The founder raised a total of over $1 million, joining the same exclusive group of only 150 Black women who have achieved this milestone. These success stories demonstrate the dire need for more funding sources for underrepresented founders.
We’ve also helped a meal prep company called Macrobites raise capital to enhance their operations. The founders are prison impacted and have a passion for their community and health!
You are also raising capital. How do you plan to use this capital raised for your own operations?
Pour more into marketing so we can find incredible founders and those in need of our kind of services. We have a compelling and revenue generating story given our mission and services that we want to continue sharing as well as the sharing of the stories of companies raising through us. We also want to invest in technology to improve the matching process for all of our users as well as make sure we continue to create amazing educational content.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs considering using your platform to raise capital?
Think about your network and/or customer base if applicable, or even better how you would go about creating a network. You have followers, a fan base, etc. so think about how you would engage on day one. This is an action we recommend immediately no matter the success or growth stage of a firm.
What is your vision for the future of the crowdfunding industry and how does your company fit into that vision?
I hope that the industry will be the preferred source of capital outpacing traditional banks that have and continue to underserve their customers hence, the concept of being under-banked. There are so many amazing businesses out there that may not own their office space or have tons of collateral to fit the bank’s archaic risk metrics but are still revenue-generating and are good stewards of capital for a debt or equity transaction.
We also want to be the jumping point for emerging diverse founder-led companies with promise who later go on to have greater rounds of funding in VC (series A, B, C, etc), take on Private Equity or Public Equity, or simply exist in perpetuity generating economic activity and changing the lives of their employees, family, friends, and customers.
True to its commitment to access, Seed is considering opening up an investment round to the community to allow investment participation in its growth journey. This is a unique opportunity that is typically only afforded to institutional investors and high-net-worth individuals.
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My favorite thing to do is to support black businesses..