Until now, only the country’s rich elite have been allowed to invest in startups prior to their initial public offerings. But that’s all changed under new Regulation A+ rules that went into effect Friday and will make it possible for startups to hold so-called “mini-IPOs” where anyone can invest. With these rules, the Average Joe may be able to get in on the ground floor of the next Facebook (FB) or Google (GOOG).
Under Regulation A+, startups will be able to raise as much as $50 million without holding an actual IPO, and on Friday, many tech companies began to “test the waters,” which is the process whereby they gauge public interest in investing prior to filing for a mini-IPO. Here are five notable tech companies that have begun to test the waters.
Elio Motors is a startup that’s been working on a three-wheeled, two-seater vehicle capable of getting up to 84 miles per gallon. The Phoenix company hopes to start selling its vehicle next year for just $6,800. Elio Motors is now listed on StartEngine.com, a website where potential investors can go and learn more about the company. If interested, users can click on "Reserve My Shares" and tell Elio Motors how much money they’d be interested in investing. Users who reserve will be notified if Elio Motors does decide to hold a mini-IPO and will then be able to invest in the startup.
Xreal, a mobile games developer, is another startup that is also testing the waters on StartEngine.com. Xreal is the maker of the game “Fortress Fury,” which has already been downloaded more than 500,000 times. However, that is Xreal’s only game thus far.
Virtuix is a Houston company that is also considering a mini-IPO, according to SeedInvest, a company that will facilitate mini-IPOs. Virtuix also specializes in gaming, but its focus lays in virtual reality. The startup has created the Omni, which is a $700 rig; a user wearing a virtual reality headset can step on it to maneuver around in a game.
Social-dieting platform DietBet is another startup that has begun to test the waters. DietBet lets users bet on themselves and compete against others for prize money as a way to motivate them to lose weight. The company claims to have helped 270,000 people lose weight, and on Friday, it began inviting its customers “to express interest in investing” in the company. As with Virtuix, DietBet is working with SeedInvest for its possible mini-IPO.
One-year-old StarShop is an e-commerce mobile app and website that has also begun testing the waters for a possible mini-IPO. The app, founded by Kevin Harrington of “Shark Tank” fame, showcases products using videos featuring celebrities such as Paula Abdul and Eli Manning. On StarShop, celebrities talk about products that they own or endorse, according to BankRoll, a new website that launched Friday and is helping StarShop and other startups with their mini-IPOs.