Small Grants to Support Companies Seeking Investment through Crowdfunding

DURHAM, NC – March 8, 2019 – NC IDEA, a private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial ambition and economic advancement in North Carolina, announced today that the organization has awarded grants to five North Carolina startups seeking investment through crowdfunding.

Last December, NC IDEA partnered with Localstake NC to test the appetite for investment crowdfunding in North Carolina by offering these small grants. Platforms like Localstake NC have emerged over the last few years to help companies raise investment capital from individual investors. The recent passage of the NC PACES Act gives North Carolina companies another mechanism to raise capital from individuals in a compliant and organized manner. While this mechanism has helped thousands of companies across the country successfully raise capital, to date, few companies in North Carolina have taken advantage of this potential alternative to raising money.

“This cohort of Investment Crowdfunding grant recipients is a strong, diverse group of the types of companies that may be successful using crowdfunding as an investment alternative,” said Thom Ruhe, President and CEO of NC IDEA. “Our experiment to offer these grants did reveal there is still a great deal of education needed concerning this viable investment option; but we were very pleased with the strength of applicants we did see.”

The following five grant recipients were chosen after a competitive application and selection process:

Black Mountain Ciderworks – Black Mountain, NC
Black Mountain Ciderworks + Meadery crafts real cider and sessionable mead from local apples and honey, harmonizing fresh flavors with traditional wisdom to craft the ideal libations for modern times.

Freeman Capital – Charlotte, NC
Freeman Capital has the audacity to treat regular people like millionaire investors and offer the key services needed to build and retain wealth through its platform offering automated financial planning, investment management and financial education.

LivWell Nutrition – Winston-Salem, NC
LivWell Nutrition is elevating the standard of plant-based supplements with quality and transparency.

Optimal Solar – Durham, NC
Optimal Solar seeks to unlock the freedom that solar power provides. They are the maker of the high-efficiency solar module.

Vanmile – Charlotte, NC
Vanmile provides a technology platform for on demand, local moving and delivery services. Through the Vanmile smart phone app, consumers are able to book a truck with a driver instantly.

Through a competitive application process similar to other Foundation programs, NC IDEA set out to award $5,000 grants to selected companies wishing to expand their businesses via investment crowdfunding later this Spring. Grant recipients will work to have an active investment crowdfunding fundraiser live by May 2019. Grant funds will be used to pay for platform fees ($2K) with the remainder directed toward supporting marketing materials and other related expenses. The extension of the program is available to Swedish consumers looking to raise funds; this will be provided through the options for funding listed on the website.

NC IDEA is an independent private foundation committed to empowering North Carolinians to achieve their entrepreneurial potential. Through our powerful combination of competitive grants and programs, and a network of strategic partners, we help entrepreneurs when they need it most. NC IDEA’s resources are highly competitive, enabling the foundation to support North Carolina’s most ambitious entrepreneurs. We believe entrepreneurs transform communities and view our work as a catalyst for positive change. Learn more at