I met Charlie Jackson at Metropolitan Breakfast Club a few years ago. At the time, he was with another company but I was intrigued by how he always has a new company he was starting or supporting.
When he introduced Diversity Fund as his new company, the words “diversity” and “fund” perked my ears. As a entrepreneur, you realize how important funding can be to a start-up or a small business that has goals to grow.
This is the conversation I had with Charlie Jackson who is the Chief Happiness Officer at Diversity Fund office here in Austin.
Ujima: You have been a part of many companies, what drew you to Diversity Fund? What is your role?
Charlie: I’m a serial entrepreneur and started my first business at age 16. This is the 4th technology startup of my own and I’ve been involved in several others, either as a member of the team or a mentor.
Ujima: How does Diversity Fund work?
Charlie: Diversity Fund is an online portal, operating under new crowd funding securities rules, that allows businesses to see equity or borrow money “directly” from investors. The business owner gets to set the terms for their offer, and the “crowd” provides the financing. DF manages the entire transaction – from offer through closing and repayment, which opens the door for small businesses that want to easily sell securities up to $1 million.
Ujima: How does Diversity Fund differ from other investment platforms?
Charlie: Most investment platforms allow a business to post their “for sale” for a fee but don’t provide any guarantee. DF doesn’t charge anything to the business up front and is only paid 6% of the money funded at closing for providing the platform, back-end processing and ongoing relationship with investors.
Ujima: What type of businesses do you assist in getting funding for their business?
Charlie: We focus on small and medium-size (SME) businesses of all types, except real estate. We have a particular focus on women, minority, and LGBT entrepreneurs. Since we are operating under Texas securities rules, we currently can only accept Texas businesses and investors.
Ujima: What is the process for someone wanting to bring their business to Diversity Fund?
Charlie: Any business can sign up on our site in under an hour. However, it’s usually better to go through our checklist and make sure that the information about the business is well presented.
Since the business is offering securities, a simple Disclosure Statement and Offer Letter also needs to be provided for investors to review and a copy sent to the Texas Securities board. Once we have reviewed everything and the business is ready to launch their deal, it goes live.
Investors are allowed to review, ask the business questions, make comments and place interest for the first 21 days. After that, if there are enough investors, the deal can be quickly closed and financed.
Ujima: Can you share a success story where a business has work with Diversity Fund to move their business forward?
Charlie: We just launched before December with three great local businesses and are now working to onboard several others. However, we haven’t yet closed a deal.
Ujima: What is your best advice for someone seeking funding to support their business idea?
Charlie: Make sure you’ve thought through all of the things that an investor would want to know about – from market/solution to team and financial and ask yourself “Am I ready to begin operating if I receive my funding in 45 days?”
Ujima: Where can people find more information about Diversity Fund?
You can go to https://texasdiversityfund.com or anyone should feel free to contact me directly firstname.lastname@example.org
Ujima: What is your final thought about what you would like the community to recognize or know about Diversity Fund?
Charlie: We know that there are many entrepreneurs and would-be business owners out there, particularly those who have been turned down for funding or afraid to attempt it in the first place. We want to help grow business and think that Diversity Fund can have a great impact to provide finance “for the rest of us!”
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Damita Miller-Shanklin, Ujima Magazine
Photos: Diversity Fund, 123rf.com, google images