So be sure to check out the site before you invest money to see if it has the kind of men on there that youre attracted to.

Next make a plan to look for single men in real life.



The real question is, Has the company started to grow up?

I think the real question is, Has the company started to grow up? The fastest way to figure this out is to take a look at the business focus.

A startup is on the quest to find product-market fit, developing and iterating its product or service, experimenting with customer segmentation and working toward a positive contribution margin.

A scaleup, on the other hand, has already validated its product in a market, and has proven that the unit economics are sustainable. A scaleups quest is to continue on that upward climb. Think of it this way: Startups invest money to learn, experiment and find validation, all on their quest to uncover a winning formula. Scaleups invest money and accelerate growth once they know that putting in $X will return $Y.

Ive learned from experience that the required skill set and focus of a companys leadership shifts dramatically between a companys startup and scaleup phases, and theres no way to move from one to the other without taking this shift into account. Here are a few key examples:



A lawyer sponsored us," Yohannes says, through a refugee resettlement program of the Third Presbyterian Church in Rochester. Yohannes' father, whose vision is mostly impaired due to stepping on a land mine in 1978, is now a board member of the church. "Being able to come to America and start over on humble beginnings even after stepping on a land mine is one of the reasons why our founders fought bloody battles," Johannes adds.

His father now works in a probation office, managing cases involving domestic violence. His mother recently retired from a career in nursing. Yohannes went to law school in Buffalo, and clerked for a judge in Western New York. But thanks to another fortunate connection to a mentor in Washington, DC, he got into the world of finance. Finance was never in my language. My DNA is fighting for those who are in need and I got that from my father," Yohannes says. Now, he can't imagine himself in another industry.

President Barack Obama announced a new federal $1 billion fund for impact investing in 2011, and he eventually called upon Yohannes to finalize its design and make the program permanent. "This program makes sense to me because it fits my theme in life -- make a dollar as well as create positive results for our country," says Yohannes, whom the president officially appointed to serve as senior adviser to the chief investment and innovation officer at the Small Business Administration (SBA).

The specific goal of the $1 billion is to support small business investment strategies that maximize financial return while also yielding measurable social, environmental or economic impact. The program is housed under the SBA's Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) licensing program. Under the impact investment program, SBIC-licensed funds promise to invest in small businesses in federal priority sectors and underserved communities, while at the same time contributing to the growth and development of the impact investment industry.

One possible example: using some of that $1 billion to invest in a small real estate developer that is also utilizing new markets tax credit financing for a project to create jobs in a low-income neighborhood.

The standard SBIC license has been a sweet deal for many venture capital or private equity funds. Under the program, for every dollar in capital they raise, the SBA matches up to 2-1, up to a maximum of $150 million. Fund management firms then go out with that federally supersized pool of capital and make investments in small businesses. The fund management firm eventually pays back the SBA, with interest. SBA operations require zero taxpayer dollars, instead funding operations through interest earned on its various investments such as SBIC-licensed funds.

The SBIC licensing program was born when President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Small Business Investment Act, on August 21, 1958 -- a date that many would argue is also the birth date of the modern venture capital industry. The program provided the first legal framework as well as financial incentives for people to pool money from strangers for the sole purpose of investing in other strangers -- specifically, small business owners. As two legal scholars wrote, in 1959, Congress has for some time been acutely aware of the difficulties facing small business concerns seeking adequate long term financing for modernization, growth and development. It realized that commercial banks are not able to furnish such long term financing, that public [ie stock market] sale of small issues of securities involved prohibitive costs, and that private placements had afforded no general solution to the problem."

The first SBIC-licensed fund managers were essentially the first modern venture capital firms. The iconic venture capital firms and private equity funds, generally speaking, have received SBIC dollars or have had a SBIC license," Yohannes says. "Arguably the most iconic brands have received investments through the SBIC license." Apple, Intel, FedEx, Costco, Staples, even Build-a-Bear are just a few of the companies over the years that got early stage investment from an SBIC license holder.

While there have been more than 300 SBIC-licensed funds at this point, today they are only a small fraction of the venture capital industry, which has grown to have several well-known shortcomings. Eighty-seven percent of venture-backed startup founders are white; 92 percent are men. More than three-quarters of venture capital ends up in just three states: California, New York and Massachusetts.

In some ways, the SBIC program has already been addressing some of that. From 2011 to 2015, SBIC-licensed funds invested $21 billion in more than 6,400 companies, 20 percent of them located in low- to moderate-income areas. A majority of SBIC-licensed capital went into states other than California, New York or Massachusetts. Part of the impetus for the $1 billion SBIC Impact Investment program is to be more intentional about driving capital to communities that have long been neglected by venture capital and other investment sources.

"Early on it appears that our funds invest more in women and minority-led companies than your standard private equity fund," says Yohannes. Were gonna continue to do that, were gonna continue to invest money in the Mississippi Delta, were gonna continue to invest money in Detroit, were gonna continue to invest money in American small businesses where gaps are the widest.

So far there are seven impact SBICs. One of them, Bridges Ventures, comes from the UK Founded in 2002, Bridges Ventures was created solely for impact investing.

We have a pretty high bar for impact at Bridges, which is one of the reasons why we felt comfortable committing ourselves to the SBA's impact bar," says Brian Trelstad, global partner at Bridges Ventures.

In the UK, the firm has been active in the pay for performance (or social impact bond) space, for example. They regularly speak about or find other ways to share their evolving approach to impact investing, how to measure it and what are some case studies.

In the US, Trelstad says, they are looking at businesses that are located in or serve underserved communities, in the areas of health and wellness, education and skills, or environmentally friendly living.

The SBIC license was an invaluable tool to help them raise capital for the fund. Even conventional SBIC-licensed funds automatically qualify for Community Reinvestment Act credit, providing a strong incentive for banks. "It allowed us to get about $18 million of bank capital," says Trelstad.

The SBIC impact investment licensing process for Bridges took about a year, but didn't slow them down from their usual process. "While we were fundraising [from investors] we were also going through the licensing process at the same time," Trelstad says, adding that one of the advantages of the impact investing program is that they could cut the line in front of others seeking conventional SBIC licenses. The SBA evaluates all SBIC licenses on a rolling basis.

Bridges Ventures has made one investment so far out of its SBIC-licensed fund, in an education company. In addition to businesses creating social impact, they're looking for a few years of positive cash flow, ideally with $5 million to $10 million in revenue. We have some flexibility to go earlier, but we're not going to do a complete startup," says Trelstad.

While the SBIC Impact Investing program was created as a temporary policy under Obama, Johannes and his team are still working to move it into permanent status. "Our goal is before the end of this year. I can't say exactly when," says Yohannes.



Kickstarter and IndieGoGo have practically become household names at this point, with countless people donating money to projects. One of the most popular ways companies have used the platforms is to help fund the development costs for video games without having to use the traditional publisher route.

One common complaint for this method of fundraising is people don't quite get back what they give. That's where Fig steps in. Instead of simply donating money to a project, backers can instead invest money in a revenue stream. This means you could actually see returns from your investment, and even make some money in the process.

"Kickstarter is exactly that, you get a one-time boost," said Justin Bailey, the CEO of Fig. Bailey sat down with iDigitalTimes at this year's E3 in Los Angeles. "It seems if you use crowdfunding, there should be something in it for the crowd as well other than just the t-shirts and stuff."

On the flip side, Fig allows backers to invest in a revenue stream, getting profits back once a game is released and actually sold to customers.

"With Fig, you don't invest in a game title, you invest in a revenue stream," Bailey said. "We pay people out quarterly, based on how much these games earn."

Fig has found in more common rewards-based crowdfunding campaigns, where backers can only expect a handful of prizes for giving money, higher-end donations are not as common anymore. "If you look back on Kickstarters and IndieGoGos over the past nine months, you'll see virtually no participation in the $1000 and up tiers," Bailey said.

"If you compare it to three or four years ago, there was a huge amount of participation," he said. "What we're seeing is that the people willing to do $1000 of investment is climbing."

Of course, dropping $1000 on a video game investment isn't exactly an option for everyone, and can be incredibly risky. This is why Bailey and the advisory board at Fig (filled with known video game industry veterans and crowdfunding experts) make sure they vet each project before the campaign can start.

"Last year, only 17 percent of gaming Kickstarters were successful," Bailey said. "Of those 17 percent, a lot of them actually came through informal networks, with people either knowing Brian [Fargo], Tim [Schafer], Feargus [Urquhart], Alex [Rigopolus] or Aaron Isaksen. Those are five people on our advisory board. You can see the vast majority that succeed in the 17 percent were known to this community. It's just helpful to know that they have some touchpoint with someone in the industry, because that provides us some background on them and provides its own de facto vetting."

This ensures each game on Fig can actually live up to its promises. "When we look at these games, we want to make sure there's a track record, that they're able to develop a game to a certain quality and that we think they can do what they say they are doing," Bailey said.

What good is an investment platform if the projects involved aren't known to at least get finished and released?

Transparency and accountability are also key for Fig, as it should be for any investment. It's easy to find out more information about investing on a game's pitch page and on Fig's SEC filings. This is why the games that have used the platform have been from companies with ties to the advisory board. In the future, other projects will be considered, but they present more of a risk for investors compared to known and trusted studios.

Once the time comes for the actual campaign, a game's ability to sell gets tested.

"The actual crowdfunding campaign is kind of proving out a market," Bailey said. "If the campaign fails, it's not a horrible thing. It just proves there isn't a market for the game.If it succeeds, then we have reasonable confidence the developers will be able to successfully develop their game and deliver what they have committed to."

"But what about me?" you may be asking. "I want to invest in video game projects, but still don't have the money to spend on investing." If what Bailey hopes comes true, changes to Fig will allow for just about everyone to get involved.

"Right now it's about $250 per share for the lowest investment," he said. "At some point in the future, I'd love to get it down to $50 and that would be the lowest tier. People could pledge $50, get a share of the revenue stream and get a free copy of the game."

As of right now, Fig only offers one campaign at a time, and only six campaigns have actually taken place. This probably will not change any time soon, but secondary campaigns may spring up alongside the main ones.

"I can see there being multiple campaigns where there's a big project and a small project," Bailey said. "We've always wanted to pair those up."

With one big and one small project, both can hopefully help each other out. "If you have a big project, you bring in that community," said Bailey. "This can allow for a smaller developer to get some exposure they might not have seen before."

Now that there are four completed Fig campaigns, a few surprises have popped up for Bailey. One is regarding the level of support (and who is involved in said support). The other is the reason why people are investing in the campaigns.

"We already have over 3,000 people who have registered to be unaccredited investors with us, and we have over 300 accredited investors," Bailey said. "On the accredited investor side, there's a lot of famous people in there."

Without giving away too much information, Bailey said these investors include notable video game industry names as well as successful entrepreneurs with very high net worth and high-profile individuals.

As for why people want to invest through Fig, the No. 1 reason is simply because they are passionate about a particular project.

"We've been polling people on why they are making investments. The No. 1 reason is people want the games to exist," Bailey said. "No. 2 is that they want to have a chance at a modest return and not just give money away."

All this sounds great in theory, but Fig hasn't really had the opportunity to show itself working quite yet. The first game funded through the site, called Outer Wilds, is nearing a final release date. Once released, revenue starts getting shared between those who invested. Once that happens, and people see results, Bailey is confident more people will be comfortable enough to start with crowdfunded investment.

So what do you think? Will you be intesting some money into a future project on Fig? Do you think youd be interested once other projects start earning money for investors? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.