By  on April 29, 2014

Equity-based crowdfunding platform CircleUp is tweaking its business model to include pooled investment funds.

The company, which earlier this year closed on a $14 million Series B round of funding, connects startup firms with potential equity stakeholders that get vetted before the angel and seed investors can access one of the consumer-focused companies on its crowdfunding platform. Apparel, accessories and beauty firms are represented on CircleUp’s crowdfunding platform. These companies have raised funding ranging from a low of $300,000 to a high of $1 million.

Now CircleUp is making it easier for accredited investors to invest in pooled investment funds called Circles, essentially a series of private equity mutual funds investing in companies on the CircleUp platform. The investment funds are either investor-led funds or theme based, such as natural and organic or companies that benefit society. The minimum investment is $10,000 for the theme-based fund and $25,000.00 for the investor-led funds. The funds, which raise capital over a few months and then have a one-year deployment period, have a limited life cycle after which the fund returns capital to investors.

Accredited investors are those individuals who have more than $1 million in net worth, excluding the primary residence, or who have at least a certain amount in annual net income for a specified period of time. Theme-based funds are managed internally by CircleUp and carry no fees or carry interest. Investor-led funds, those whose pooled investments are in a fund led by an investor group, don’t have any fee but do have a carry interest paid to the lead investor.

Ryan Caldbeck, chief executive officer and co-founder of CircleUp, said, “We strive to make fundraising more efficient for entrepreneurs and to provide high-quality opportunities to investors.  CircleUp Circles [allows both] consumer and retail experts to raise small funds much more efficiently than possible offline, while providing investors the opportunity to invest alongside experienced lead investors or to invest behind themes.”

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