It’s a phrase that has become almost platitudinal in early stage startup circles—especially when it comes to investors. “We don’t invest in companies. We invest in people.” But just because it’s overused doesn’t prevent it from being true. And today, with the launch of Chroma.fund, the team at Chroma proved why.
I’ve been watching the founding team at Chroma since before they were even a team. When they were just interesting individuals working on interesting things here in town. So when they teamed up, I was pretty sure they’d manage to pull off something amazing.
But, to use another platitude, it’s been a long and winding road.
Chroma. You’re saying. Chroma. Why does that sound familiar? Well, if you’ve been around Portland It’s probably because you’ve heard about them from time to time.
The team began its life as something entirely different. In the inaugural class of the Portland-based Nike+ Accelerator powered by Techstars. Where they were chosen, not because they were looking to incorporate Nike Fuel into an existing product, but because they seemed like a great team. And even though they had nothing by way of product at the time, folks were convinced they were a team that was capable of creating something amazing.
And they did manage to create something. But it was the thing that would carry them forward. But it did keep them alive. And thinking. And creating.
Then, the story sort of repeats. As Chroma is chosen for the inaugural class of Oregon Story Board. With an entirely different idea. Again, not because they have anything by way of product or “sure thing” but because folks were convinced that the team could do something interesting.
And again, a similar outcome. Chroma is on the path to something compelling. But the pieces aren’t quite in place.
Fast forward to today. And suddenly, those pieces have fallen into place. And the team—the one that everyone had confidence in—hits their stride or their Nike+ Goal or whatever.
In most places, currently, investing in privately held companies is something for high net worth individual, venture capitalists, and private equity firms, among others. But it’s not for the everyday person like you and me.
And while portions of the JOBS Act promise to change all of that—and make investing in private companies as accessible as investing in public ones—we’re still playing a game of “wait and see” in terms of that becoming a reality.
So when Oregon lawmakers ratified similar crowdfunding legislation, Chroma saw their opportunity.
Chroma.fund is an investment crowdfunding platform that allows anyone in Oregon to make investments in local businesses, products, and creative projects. You can think of it as a local market for stocks and bonds. But unlike Wall St. investments, you don’t need a broker to invest in businesses on Chroma.fund. Just a credit or debit card.
As with traditional crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, business owners may use Chroma.fund to create campaigns (we call them “offerings”) that explain the project or business opportunity that they’re attempting to raise money for. But unlike Kickstarter, people contributing money to these businesses are investing instead of donating.
Many of the businesses seeking investments on Chroma.fund are issuing something we call the ChromaCoin™ bond. This means that instead of selling a percentage of ownership of their company, they’re instead selling a percentage of future revenue. If you invest in a ChromaCoin™ bond, businesses will use our software to make periodic payments directly into your bank account.
Bitcoin and crowdfunding combined into a tasty Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of everyone investing? What could be more Portlandy?