Dear Early Investor,
Today I’m sending you something a little different.
I’m going to highlight a few of the startups we’ve recommended to members of our research service, First Stage Investor.
If you haven’t made any equity crowdfunding investments yet, this will give you a good idea of the types of opportunities that are now available to all investors (not just wealthy ones).
We’re one of just a few groups in the world doing independent research on these investments, and as far as I know, we’re the largest, with more than 14,000 subscribers. So I thought people might be curious about the kinds of companies we’re choosing to recommend.
In total, we’ve recommended 15 startup deals to First Stage Investor subscribers in our first year.
Here are a few of my early favorites.
Michigan-based Court Innovations is bringing the courtroom online.
Its platform, called Matterhorn, allows defendants to negotiate cases against them on the web without ever setting foot inside a legal building… and, importantly, without needing a lawyer.
So if you get a speeding ticket in a court district that uses Matterhorn, you can go to CourtInnovations.com and make an offer like this: “I’ll pay the fine, but don’t put any points on my license, please.”
It then goes to the prosecutor and judge for approval or rejection. The whole thing can be done from your phone.
Court Innovations can handle online payment as well, and keeps a small cut of any fees or fines paid online.
It saves courts loads of money, cutting the total time worked per hearing from 157 minutes to 27 minutes, based on a number of case studies. Court Innovations slashes delinquency rates and gets courts paid faster.
I got a software demo of Matterhorn, and it was a clean, fast, customizable and well-designed platform – no easy feat.
The company spawned from the University of Michigan Law School. Very solid leadership.
This company hit just about every mark for me as an investor. It saves people money. It removes middlemen. It has recurring revenue. It is first to market in the U.S. And it’s already selling the system to more than 20 courts.
More than 10,000 cases have been resolved using the platform, and that number is growing fast.
When we recommended Court Innovations, it still had $440,000 available out of its max $500,000 raise on Netcapital. Within a week, First Stage Investor members helped fill it up.
Court Innovations ended up pulling in $1.8 million in the funding round total (from offline funds raised and online equity crowdfunding). It was a mix of equity crowdfunders, venture capitalists and angel investors.
20-plus courts down, 15,000-plus to go. It’ll take time, but the opportunity is there. Good luck to the team!
EVELO makes smart electric bikes.
It sells directly to consumers, cutting out middlemen. The company currently has eight bike models to choose from, which you can see here.
Here are more key facts about EVELO:
- It has sold more than $6 million to date.
- Its bikes can get up to 60 miles per charge.
- It has top-quality parts and assembly.
- It offers free shipping.
- There is financing available.
- Customers love its bikes.
EVELO is constantly innovating. For example, it just released a new folding electric bike model.
In January of this year, Evelo closed its round on Wefunder with $729,000 raised. We can’t wait to see what the team does next.
Lendsnap sells software to mortgage lenders. This startup is laser-focused on simplifying documentation, such as tax forms and pay stubs.
In essence, it makes it easy for banks to securely collect documents from clients.
It also allows the client to supply their information through other online services. For example, you can automatically (and securely) pull tax data from your H&R Block account and add it to your loan application.
The system works with hundreds of different financial services applications. Borrowers can pull data from their banks, pay providers, tax forms and many other sources. Integrating all these services was no easy task.
You can see a demo of the software here.
Lendsnap’s product is live, and it’s got a small but growing list of customers. It processed more than 200 loan applications per month in March and is adding new ones all the time.
Lendsnap just closed its round on SeedInvest with $1.2 million raised in total. We’re excited to see what it does next.
Equity crowdfunding is just starting to realize its potential. At its core, this is simply a better way for startups to raise capital.
For those willing to put in the work, there are excellent deals to be found.
If you’d rather have guidance on which deals to pick, consider joining First Stage Investor. Our research is independent – we don’t take any money from portals or startups.
For those interested in learning more, my Co-Founder Andy Gordon just released a new video presentation. In it, he explains why the stock market appears to be headed for a major correction… and why the future of the public markets is suddenly on shaky ground.
He also convincingly makes the case that every investor’s portfolio should be diversified into early-stage investments. I couldn’t agree more. It’s absolutely critical in this age of private company hypergrowth.
Andy’s an incredibly smart guy, and some of the facts he uncovered about the (shrinking) stock market are genuinely shocking. Check out the whole presentation, for free, to see what I mean.
Founder, Early Investing
P.S. We’ll have two new recommendations for First Stage Investor subscribers in the coming weeks. One is a small, fast-growing, profitable new media company that will be featured in our July issue.
The other new pick is an up-and-coming cryptocurrency. It’s similar to bitcoin, but we believe it has far more upside. We’ll include all the details about how to securely access this new investment class. I’ve owned cryptocurrencies since 2013, so you’re in good hands.