Durham crowdfunding conference set July 26

You can find out what the legalization of equity crowdfunding means for New Hampshire startups — and whether it's the fundraising cure-all that some have proclaimed — at a half-day conference coming up next week in Durham.

Crowdfunding first gained notice through websites such as Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, which allow creative types like musicians and artists to fund their projects by soliciting small donations from many backers in return for rewards.

But the recent passage of the federal JOBS Act expanded the scope of crowdfunding, making it legal for entrepreneurs to raise capital by selling stakes in their startups through online crowdfunding platforms.

What the legalization of crowd investing means for New Hampshire entrepreneurs will be the subject of the mini-conference, which will be held Thursday, July 26 at the Idea Greenhouse in Durham.

Among the topics it will explore are the various forms of crowdfunding — including prize/perk, peer lending, equity, and other methods — and the challenges and opportunities present in each of the forms.

"I believe crowdfunding could have the potential to elevate entrepreneurship to a new level in New Hampshire, but only if we know what we're doing," said Tom Elliot, founder of the Idea Greenhouse, the Durham incubator that will host the conference. "I think it's vital to understand the big picture of all crowdfunding options and to educate people on those, but to also understand where opportunity lies in the equity side."

Running from 2 to 5 p.m., the conference will include presentations and a panel discussion.

Tom Young, a Durham resident who has successfully used Kickstarter to raise more than $100,000 for two businesses, will kick off the conference with a presentation on "Crowdfunding 101," a background on the history and fundamentals of the form.

Michael Norman, co-founder of WeFunder, an equity crowdfunding platform, will discuss how crowd investing differs from traditional, rewards-based crowdfunding, and why the difference matters.

Matt Benson, a corporate attorney with Cook, Little Rosenblatt and Manson, will present "What Your Lawyer Says About Crowdfunding," which will explore some of the legal challenges of crowd investing in New Hampshire.

The afternoon will wrap up with Elliot's "case study speed round" — five tales of crowdfunding campaigns — and a panel discussion among the presenters, moderated by NHBR reporter Kathleen Callahan.

The conference is free to members of the Idea Greenhouse, and $20 for non-members, and is followed by a free networking reception from 5 to 6:30.For more information, or to register, visit http://www.ideagreenhouse.biz/crowdfunding.

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