When I sat in the Rose Garden in April 2012 watching President Obama sign the JOBS Act into law, I remarked to myself, and anyone who would listen, just how far “the Internet” had come in terms of polished political activism and policy coherence in such a short amount of time: The JOBS Act was passed in six weeks. As originally intended, JOBS Act would have opened up new avenues for investment in early-stage startups, providing new ways for entrepreneurs to secure the funding they need to turn their ideas into reality.
But, just two years later, there are many within this community who have been left disheartened by the haphazard implementation of such an important law, and have also become hamstrung by the limitations put on them by the Securities and Exchange Commission -- in stark contrast to the spirit of that legislation.
The crowdfunding for equity provisions have yet to become a reality. And, perhaps more importantly, provisions on general solicitation aimed at making it easier for startups to widen their investor base in a more rational way, as opposed to the previous, wink-and-nod style capital formation, have made the situation worse to the point of being untenable for many early-stage companies, especially those who grow through accelerator programs.
Luckily, news from Washington this morning signals the beginning of a solution we hope will make the JOBS Act work for startups, angel investors and all those who wish to join their ranks. Dubbed the Helping Angels Lead Our Startups, or HALOS, Act (clever, because they’re supporting angels!), this important legislation, offered in a bipartisan manner in both houses,but led by Illinois Democrat Rep. Brad Schneider and Ohio Republican Rep. Steve Chabot, would change the Regulation D rules governing General Solicitation to once allow “Demo Days” to continue once again.
Demoing early stage startups and their products has been a key way for companies to accelerate growth, but the unintended consequences of JOBS Act’s rulemaking at the SEC have complicated the process by which these startups can present their groundbreaking ideas. The current status quo stands in total contrast to the original intent of the legislation, and unfortunately we need a further fix.
Luckily, Reps. Schneider and Chabot have been joined by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patrick Toomey (R-PA) and John Thune (R-SD) to provide that legislative fix in the form of the HALOS Act. You can read the (short) bill in its entirety here. We encourage you to reach out to the co-sponsors and thank them for their foresight here, as well as to your own representative and Senators urging them to pass this important legislation.