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For the past few years Jason Calacanis' LAUNCH festival has been one of the premier venues to -- you guessed it -- launch a hot new startup in the hopes of attracting serious investment dollars.
When the JOBS Act was signed into law last year, Calacanis saw an opportunity to broaden the potential sources of those investment dollars by incorporating a real-time, live crowdfunding campaign into the annual event.
LAUNCHFest 2013 kicks off Monday, and we still don't have an official equity crowdfunding system in place for non-accredited investors, but Calacanis and Company have found a way to move forward with their live crowdfunding experiment anyway.
"At the event, accredited investors can use the app to show interest in investing in the 50 startups (launching) on stage. If you make a commitment, it’s a non-binding show of interest," explains Calacanis via an e-mail. "Your contact information is sent to the startup, and you two can get coffee in one of our Davos-style offices."
The app also allows non-accredited investors to play along with an allotment of 10,000 "Launch dollars" (read: imaginary) to demonstrate how actual live crowdfunding might work in the near future.
"The concept here is that if the crowdfunding laws from the Jobs Act were passed (hurry up, SEC!), then you the attendee could invest $50 or $100 or $500 in a startup you liked," explains Calacanis.
As Calacanis points out, those small investments could have produced some nice returns had equity crowdfunding been in place during past LAUNCH festivals, where the likes of Mint.com, Yammer and Dropbox all launched from the stage.
The LAUNCH fest will stream live from San Francisco starting on Monday at http://festival.launch.co/live. You can watch a walk-through of the app with Calacanis in the video below:
- Eric Mack is Managing Editor for Crowdsourcing.org. He has covered business, technology and politics for more than a decade for major outlets including CNET, CBS, AOL, NPR, Wired, and the New York Times. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter and Google+. Also be sure to follow Crowdsourcing.org on Twitter and join our Crowdsourcing community on Google+.