Geri Stengel

Search Vistas Blog by Category


Vistas: Geri Stengel’s Blog: Small business

Equity Crowdfunding on Its Second Birthday: A Look Back and Ahead

Title II of the JOBS Act recently passed its second birthday, which makes it an opportune time to take a look at the sector to date, as well as attempt to chart where it is going.

The Floodgates Didn’t Exactly Burst Open

Over the course of the past two years, nearly 5,600 companies have sought capital publicly, and nearly 1,400 succeeded in raising money, according to Crowdnetic, which aggregates data from 18 equity crowdfunding platforms.

This success rate of about one in four companies is similar to the success rate in the offline world. These companies raised more than $600 million combined, averaging about $447,000 per company. While these numbers sound impressive, only a tiny percentage—2%—of money raised from accredited investors has been raised via equity platforms using 506(c) in 2014.

What’s Holding Equity Crowdfunding Back?

Several reasons have contributed to equity crowdfunding’s slow start, but many are fading out of rear-view as the movement gains momentum.

Read all of Equity Crowdfunding on Its Second Birthday: A Look Back and Ahead on

Entrepreneurs Disrupt Costly Legal Fees For Startups And Small Businesses

Startups and small businesses complain that lawyers are expensive and costs are unpredictable. Lawyers complain that finding clients and getting paid is difficult. Sounds like an industry begging for some entrepreneurial thinking.

A wave of companies are using technology to provide affordable fixed-priced legal services to startups and small businesses, and referrals and payment to lawyers. Some products provide diagnostic tools that identify gaps in legal coverage that open businesses to risk. In the same way that the healthcare industry tries to  provide lower-cost preventive services to reduce the cost of more expensive long-term care, tech-enabled legal companies provide startups and small businesses with precautionary legal agreements and contracts to reduce the possibility of much more expensive legal action down the road. These legal websites are based on the premise that by bringing down the costs of lawyers, more companies will use legal services.

Read all of Entrepreneurs Disrupt Costly Legal Fees For Startups And Small Businesses on

Photo credit: Sam Howzit, Giant Gavel via Flickr


As Banks Turn Away, Online Alternative Lenders Fill the Funding Gap

Small businesses’ cries for financing are being heard. Not by traditional banks, but instead by an array of online financing organizations that use technology and data to speed money to borrowers. While these new options can be more expensive due to the greater risk they undertake, these lenders ultimately make more money available to a greater number of businesses.

Read all of  As Banks Turn Away, Online Alternative Lenders Fill the Funding Gap on


7 Tips For Making Necessity The Mother Of Success

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the dramatic rise in women of color starting businesses. On the surface, that might sound like good news but only if these women are choosing to start a business as an opportunity. If starting the business was a necessity because they couldn’t find a job, the news is not so good. Necessity entrepreneurs are less likely than opportunity entrepreneurs to be successful.

As I read Whitney Johnson’s book, Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work, I realized how appropriate her advice is not just for women, but for any necessity entrepreneur. The book will be released on October 6, 2015.

One piece of advice not in the book may be the hardest to hear for someone trying to put food on the table but it is critical. Johnson mentioned it when I spoke with her. That is, the process takes time. It takes about six months to morph an idea for a business into a viable business.


Read all of 7 Tips For Making Necessity The Mother Of Success on 

4 Overlooked Ways To Minimize The Risk Of Starting A Company

Striking out on your own is risky business. Within the first five years, 50% of businesses fail. But you can increase your chance of success with planning and preparation.

I asked Candace Klein what entrepreneurs overlook that could increase their chances of success. Who would know better? Klein has been part of three start-up companies and, through her Bad Girl Ventures nonprofit, has guided many women as they start companies. Bad Girl Ventures  provides training, connections and access to capital to female entrepreneurs in Cincinnati and Cleveland. Klein started SoMeLend, which closed its doors, and she is now the chief strategy officer of Dealstruck. Both companies are online alternative lenders to small businesses. 

Read all of 4 Overlooked Ways To Minimize The Risk Of Starting A Company on

Power Up Your Business By Focusing on ‘Why’

Focusing on “Why” your company does what it does powers up your passion and your business. Inspirational leaders understand this. Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King and the Wright brothers all started with why, according to Simon Sinek, an ethnographer and author of Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. Sinek’s TED speech offers specifics around how these leaders did began and how they applied their passionate “why” each step along the way.

Read all of Power Up Your Business By Focusing on ‘Why’ on 


Profit Is Nice. Margins Are Even Better

Most people who own a company would say that a big reason they’re in business is to make money. There’s more to being successful, however, than the absolute dollar amount you bring in.

Revenue and profit are important, but alone they do not provide the full picture of a company’s overall health. Revenue shows how much you’ve earned and profits show how much money your company has made in absolute terms. Margin ratios, however, offer a look at your profitability by telling you how much you're making relative to your revenue. It's not an absolute metric, and that's a good thing.

Read all of Profit Is Nice. Margins Are Even Better on

How Equity Crowdfunding Stands to Help Women in Business

By Clark Buckner

Female entrepreneurs face certain obstacles that their male counterparts may never have to consider. For instance, according to Ventureneer Founder and President Geri Stengel, women in business typically “start with about half of the capital” that male entrepreneurs do. In her upcoming report on equity crowdfunding for women in business, Stengel hopes to reverse that trend.

How To Ensure An Angel Or VC Is The Right Match For You

Like marriage, the relationship between an entrepreneur and her investor can go wrong. The relationship is more than just money and it’s important to know if you’re compatible. “You may not be getting married forever, but you are shacking up for a long time,” said Lori Hoberman, Chair of the Emerging Companies / Venture Capital practice, Chadbourne & Parke.

How To Learn To Speak 'Entrepreneur' Like A Native

Julia Pimsleur grew up speaking both English and French. No surprise, her parents developed the highly regarded Pimsleur Method of teaching foreign languages for adults. She knew the benefits of being bilingual — better memory, analytic abilities, and problem-solving skills. She also recognized the value of being multilingual in an increasingly integrated global economy.

Syndicate content