In recent years, crowdfunding has become a popular practice among entrepreneurs and casual investors. Thanks to websites like Kickstarter, business owners and other individuals can raise small amounts of money for virtually any type of project by collecting money from the online community. Now, Maryland businesses have yet another funding option, although its source is somewhat foreign: OurCrowd, a crowdfunding organization that has launched a program far from its base in Israel.
OurCrowd has announced that it will partner with the Maryland/Israel Development Center to identify startups in the Old Line State that could be good candidates for their investors. While OurCrowd typically focuses on Israeli businesses, the company’s CEO, Jon Medved, stated that the organization was attracted to Maryland’s strong entrepreneurial community.
Like Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites, OurCrowd helps businesses raise startup capital, but the process is somewhat more exclusive than other programs. Only accredited investors are allowed to contribute through OurCrowd, and investment values start at $10,000. Likewise, companies must apply and be accepted through the organization. Because of this, OurCrowd might seem like a less effective option when compared to other branding opportunities. For example, studies show that installing a permanent sign is one of the most effective branding choices: 35% of people wouldn’t even know a business was at its location if a sign was not displayed. However, if a company qualifies, OurCrowd creates some fairly good odds: since the company first launched in 2012, its investors have given a total of $100 million to 58 companies. The average investment for each company was around $1.6 million. Today, around 7,000 investors from 94 countries are involved with the organization.
Now, the crowdfunding venture has joined with the Maryland/Israel Development Center, a partnership between the state’s Department of Business and Economic Development and the Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. Charged with strengthening business ties between the two areas, the organization has focused on bringing Israeli companies to Maryland or helping Maryland businesses expand to Israel. Now, the group intends to help find Maryland companies that might be good candidates for OurCrowd.
The organization is reportedly looking for companies that have a business plan and and an organizational structure, even if they have not yet fully launched their sales or service. Jewish heritage is not required to apply.