The Portland Tech Community & the Crowdfund Act

On Wednesday, OpenSesame co-founder Josh Blank participated in a roundtable discussion led by United States Senator Jeff Merkley among entrepreneurs and tech leaders on The Crowdfund Act – new legislation designed to make raising capital easier for new businesses. As a new startup, OpenSesame has worked hard to build our business, develop our customer base and raise the capital we need to support our team and operations as we grow. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to share our perspective on this new legislation supporting similar new businesses.

This spring, Senator Merkley proposed the Crowdfund Act to enable startup businesses to legally accept capital from non-accredited investors. Current laws prevent startups from accepting investments from non-accredited investors, which limits the pool of investors to high net worth individuals who meet specific legal requirements. In this challenging economy, Senator Merkley worked with fellow legislators to create mechanisms for businesses to accept investment from a larger pool of potential investors.

The tremendous success of crowd funding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo inspired Senator Merkley to enable the use of the crowdfunding model for equity investors in addition to donors – making it possible for more people to support small businesses and invest in their communities. From a startup perspective, the Crowdfund Act represents new opportunities for entrepreneurs to access veins of capital from smaller investors who may be sophisticated businesspeople but lack the high net worth necessary to meet historic accreditation standards. 

Josh was thrilled to have the opportunity to share OpenSesame’s experience as a new business working to provide innovative products and services while creating jobs in Oregon with Senator Merkley and the other participants. In a slow economy, the tech community is a bright spot both in Portland and nationally, creating jobs and fostering economic growth. We are excited that other new businesses will have a new route to access the capital they need to grow and create new jobs. 

Since our founding in 2010, OpenSesame has made its home in the Portland State University Business Accelerator, an incubator providing a jump start to biotech and tech startups in the Portland community. We’ve benefited from the expertise and support offered by the Accelerator’s deep network of entrepreneurs and community leaders – and this discussion was another opportunity to make our views known among entrepreneurs and community leaders. 

Discussion participants included Angela Jackson of the Accelerator, Wim Wiewel of Portland State University, Linda Weston of the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network, Bill Campbell of Equilibrium Capital, Skip Newberry of the Software Association of Oregon, fellow entrepreneur Matt Hixson of Tellagence, Bill Caffee of law firm White Summers and Sattie Clark of the VOIS Alliance. We were honored to participate with a broad cross-section of the Portland economy in this discussion of the Crowdfund Act.

As the Oregon and Portland tech community continues to grow, OpenSesame looks forward to partnering and collaborating with startups at every stage as they grow and create new opportunities for our entire state.