Reality TV Meets Robinhood: 'Going Public' Raises Another Round; Adds a New Contestant
Normally, pre-IPO investments are reserved for wealthy angel and institutional investors who stand to cash out once a company goes public.
But Todd Goldberg and Darren Marble, the team behind the forthcoming Shark Tank-like series "Going Public," have a plan to level the playing field.
Just as Robinhood increased retail investors' access to Wall Street, Marble and Goldberg are calling Going Public the "Robinhood for angel investing."
The series will give viewers the chance to invest in one of five startups it follows as the founders strive toward a potential IPO on the NASDAQ stock exchange.
Goldberg and Marble are the co-CEOs of Crush Capital, the Beverly Hills-based investment company behind the show that's set to stream this fall on Entrepreneur.com.
Their pitch to investors is that Crush democratizes access to IPOs. Investors seem to be buying it: Crush Capital has raised $2.75 million in its second round of funding, led by AYA Capital Holdings with participation from Zilliqa Capital. The latest raise brings its total to $6 million.
"One thing that tied the folks who decided to invest, whether in the seed round or in this round, was that they got it right away," Goldberg said.
Among the five startups to appear on the show will be music streaming company Trebel, which Marble said has four million monthly unique users and a valuation of $150 million; Proven Skincare, which uses AI to create personalized skin care blends and which Goldberg said is on track to make up to $40 million in revenue this year and NexGenT, an edtech company formed by Air Force veterans who formerly taught teenagers how to build network infrastructure in the middle of war zones, and which Goldberg said earned $17 million in revenue last year.
More participants will be announced in the coming weeks. All will have valuations between $100 million and $500 million and be authorized by the SEC to receive funding from non-accredited investors in accordance with crowdfunding legislation passed in 2015 known as Regulation A.
"Whereas American Idol pioneered text-to-vote, we're pioneering click-to-invest for a series that allows viewers to follow founders on their capital-raising journey and invest into their deals or IPOs while they watch," Marble said.
Viewers will be able to buy equity via Crush Capital's investment platform and will be charged a $15 transaction fee, Marble said.
That's a departure from the no-fee services that have become standard among retail-investment platforms like Robinhood. But Goldberg sees the fees as an opportunity to further differentiate "Going Public" from what he considers a shady business practices.
"If you're not paying for the product, you are the product," he said, referring to the selling of user data that numerous no-fee brokerages practice. "We think the small transaction fee is worth paying to know that you are not the product."
Correction: An earlier version of this story said users of the Going Public investment platform could purchase stock warrants for competing companies. Users can only purchase stock shares in those companies. It also incorrectly stated Trebel's valuation.
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