CircleUp, one of the first companies to take advantage of new crowdfunding rules set out in the 2011 JOBS Act, announced on Wednesday that it received a $14 million Series B round, which it will use to improve its platform of online investment opportunities.
The company, which has seen over 60 startups use its platform to raise money since 2013, will use the Series B round to improve the data and transparency tools it provides to investors.
In a phone interview, COO Rory Eakin explained that CircleUp focuses on connecting investors with consumer companies that sell products like granola bars, wine or hair gel. Eakin added the new funding will be used to offer more and better performance metrics that can help investors navigate niche sectors like organic shampoo.
In case you’re unfamiliar, companies like CircleUp are significant because they provide a way for startups to raise money from multiple investors on the internet. While startups have long been able to solicit donations from sites like Kickstarter, the new breed of crowdfunding portals lets them offer equity to accredited to investors.
While the JOBS Act calls for any type of investor to be allowed to participate, the new crowdfunding rules are for now available only to wealthier people known as accredited investors.
According to Eakin, the appeal of a platform like CircleUp is that it acts as a curation service for quality investment opportunities; he says that two-thirds of listed companies have received funding, and that investors appreciate the opportunity to get a close-up view of the startups by receiving samples or talking to their founders. CircleUp is a broker-dealer so it makes money through commissions when a startup sells shares.
CircleUp’s Series B round was led by Canaan Partners with additional investment from Google Ventures, Union Square Ventures, Maveron and Rose Park Advisors.