Enhancing Rural Access to Capital Through Development of a Local Crowdfunding Incubator

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014

$100K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

LOCAL CROWD, LLC, THE
4218 CHEYENNE DR Array
Laramie, WY 82072
Principal Investigator, Firm POC

Abstract

Strong rural economies need strong entrepreneurs who can start businesses and create jobs. The RUPRI Center for Rural Entrepreneurship reports that regions with high levels of entrepreneurship have 73% higher employment growth, 14% higher wage growth, 87% higher birth rate of new firms, and 45% higher productivity growth--all indicators of robust and sustainable local economies. Entrepreneurs are key to rural economic vitality, yet they can often be stymied when it comes to finding the capital they need to start and grow. The Local Crowd, LLC (TLC) has designed a crowdfunding incubator model that can overcome barriers to rural access to capital. The model combines the power of Internet crowdfunding with a strong educational focus designed to increase the sophistication level of rural entrepreneurs and investors, and a catalyst for community involvement that anchors the model into rural communities. The incubator will showcase investment opportunities, conduct online transactions, provide education for the entrepreneur as well as the investor, and engage local economic development organizations in the launch and operation of the incubator.The Phase I research project, "Enhancing Rural Access to Capital Through Development of a Local Crowdfunding Incubator," will demonstrate the feasibility of an education-focused crowdfunding model that can be brought into rural communities quickly and easily, providing them with everything they need to immediately start a local crowdfunding program. The research plan includes four objectives: 1. Determine the characteristics of a rural community that can successfully support the TLC model, 2. Determine the performance specifications and educational design for the incubator, 3. Implement a pilot study to test the feasibility of the model in a rural community, and 4. Demonstrate the feasibility of the model to impact the socio-economic development of rural areas.