Fin-tech innovators, next generation investors and other players in capital markets and financing models gathered earlier this month for the fourth annual Global Alternative Funding Forum in Los Angeles.
Victoria Silchenko, the forum’s creator and producer, said the event continues to be an important way to educate and inform entrepreneurs and small business owners, while also uniting various financing branches, especially amid changes in regulations.
Silchenko, an educator and entrepreneur, described this year’s forum as “exceptional,” with innovators, investors, new players, and government representatives — “everyone on top of transforming markets” — gathering together in the same place.
“I was happy to bring the government into conversation. When we talk about government, we think about politics, but the truth is the federal government actually issued $94 billion in grants in 2014,” Silchenko said.
More than 40 speakers covered numerous topics, including equity crowdfunding and crowd investing, mini IPO and Reg A+, OTC and venture exchanges, revenue royalties finance, peer-to-peer lending networks, alternative currencies as a new funding source, next generation VC funds and angel investors’ syndicates, EB-5 financing to attract foreign investors, business grants, SBA loans and state funding programs, and financing alternatives for television, media and entertainment projects.
Silchenko said she aims to make the forum “a platform for people to share their knowledge and opinions and not be afraid to be ignored.”
The theme of the event was ‘The Future is Now,’ Silchenko said.
“The whole idea of the forum is this is what we have right now in terms of regulation, and this is what we have in terms of tools, so how do we utilize it in the most responsible and painless way?” she said.
Changes in regulations were a popular topic. A panel, moderated by Steve Sadler, Founder and CEO of Allegiancy, explored recent developments of the JOBS Act, Title III and Title IV, and what entrepreneurial ventures and small businesses can expect in 2016.
“The market cap of US private companies is over $75 trillion, and the JOBS Act revision to Reg A is about to unleash a transformation bigger than Uber’s transformation of the staid ‘Taxi’ business,” Sadler said in a new release on the event.
“By 2018 I predict Reg A volume will be north of $5 billion, a lot of players will be disintermediate. If you are not adding tangible, meaningful value your company will be left in the dust. For the first time in living memory barriers between entrepreneurs and investors are being lowered with Reg A and Title III. This is a time of unprecedented opportunity and we will see a huge burst of dynamism in the American economy.”
Benjamin Levy, co-founder of BootstrapLabs, an early stage venture investment company in Silicon Valley, offered his view from a venture capitalist perspective.
“In a world flush with cheap capital, true differentiation will come from the value-add VCs who are able to deliver to their portfolio companies,” Levy said in a news release. “It’s time VCs eat their own dog food, innovate, iterate, or die! Today, the best VCs are building platforms.”
The most controversial panel, in Silchenko’s view, was an afternoon panel titled ‘The Future of Finance: Alternative Currencies and Artificial Intelligence,’ which focused on bitcoin.
“It turned into a debate as one guest wasn’t a big supporter. It was completely unscripted. It was a surprise for me. The heat was on,” she said.
Silchenko said she aims to educate attendees with information they might not otherwise know about. To that end, she moderated a panel on alternative financing programs by government and corporations. Panelists included the regional executive director for Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses and a top expert on federal business grants.
“I was approached by many people at the event who were saying ‘thank you so much, we didn’t know there were such options,’” she said.
Metropole Capital Group hosted the one-day forum Nov. 6.