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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • New service helps entrepreneurs raise capital

  • The Office of Technology Transfer and Economic Development at Missouri University of Science and Technology is launching a new service to help entrepreneurs in the Rolla area raise capital.
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  • The Office of Technology Transfer and Economic Development at Missouri University of Science and Technology is launching a new service to help entrepreneurs in the Rolla area raise capital.
    "There are plenty of cutting edge technologies and interesting business concepts that could form the basis for high potential business ventures in the Rolla area,” said Keith Strassner, director of technology transfer and economic development at Missouri S&T.
    “These ventures have difficulty getting off the ground partly because Rolla has a smaller pool of local talent than urban areas across the state,” Strassner added.
    “Entrepreneurs could recruit talent from outside the area to help launch their businesses if they had sufficient capital. But entrepreneurs often have to leave the region to raise the capital they need which is more readily available in the larger population centers in Missouri and the other major high tech start-up hubs such as Silicon Valley, Boston and Austin," Strassner said.
    The Office of Technology Transfer and Economic Development recently selected EquityNet, a patented crowdfunding platform, as its platform to help local entrepreneurs raise capital.
    It provides access to more than 20,000 individual investors and has helped entrepreneurs across North America raise more than $210 million in capital since it was launched in 2005. The platform is flexible enough to accommodate a wide variety of business types from high tech ventures to local retailers.
    It functions as a matchmaker that connects entrepreneurs with interested investors. However, the actual deals are consummated offline.
    In September 2013, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lifted its 80-year-old ban that prevented entrepreneurs and private businesses from advertising to attract potential investors.
    This has paved the way for a slew of equity-based crowdfunding platforms and may open up new opportunities for entrepreneurs to raise capital. It also allows crowdfunding platforms, like EquityNet, to play a larger role in helping entrepreneurs locate and attract investors.
    "With better access to investment capital local entrepreneurs won't necessarily have to leave the region to obtain the funding they need," said Malcolm Townes, associate director of technology transfer and economic development at Missouri S&T.
    "This will give them the means to recruit key people from outside the region if necessary and make it easier for them to launch high potential businesses that create quality jobs right here in the community," Townes said.
    Individuals and businesses wanting to use EquityNet normally have to pay a fee which can be as much as $828 per year.
    However, qualified clients of the Small Business and Technology Development Center operated by Missouri S&T's Office of Technology Transfer and Economic Development will be able to access the EquityNet platform for free the first year.
    They will also receive ongoing business counseling from the Office of Technology Transfer and Economic Development. Those interested in learning more about the service can email ecodevo@mst.edu.
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