Made in NYC: Return on Change
What is the future of investing?
Ask Return on Change, and the answer is...huge. As an equity crowdfunding platform, the company connects investors to innovative startup companies and is at the forefront of leveraging technology to spur the future of investing.
Sang Lee founded Return on Change shortly after the financial crisis. As the JOBS act began to take shape, Lee realized that many startups were having difficulty raising capital and clearing some common hurdles. He saw Return on Change as a crucial portal that could help startups and small businesses access capital more easily while protecting investors. In particular, with Title III of the JOBS Act set to pass this year, the general public (not just accredited investors) might soon be able to invest in startups in exchange for equity— a potential game-changer for the investing world!
Since it was founded in 2012, Return on Change has helped secure $5 million in commitments, with the largest single company recently successfully raising $1 million.
Lee shared his vision on how Return on Change plans to continue helping to democratize startup finance through equity crowdfunding.
What is Return on Change's mission?
To more efficiently connect startups and investors by digitizing the capital raising and investing process. We help get funding for startups in critical industries like CleanTech, EdTech, Life Science, Tech, and Social Enterprises.
How are you different from other crowdfunding platforms? Why the focus on only these five sectors?
We are an equity crowdfunding platform, which means that startups on our platform are looking to raise capital in exchange for shares of their company. Additionally, we help startups on our platform to raise capital from front to back. We have partnered with various service providers to help with due diligence, investor accreditation, and deal closing support. We take a lot of care in working closely with and supporting the entrepreneurs on our platform.
We focus on those sectors because we believe it’s important to support innovative businesses. I am a recovering investment banker who has been through the European Crisis and America's housing collapse. Through this, I've come to realize that businesses can be profitable and those that have a positive effect on our society should be given opportunities to flourish.
What is your biggest accomplishment thus far?
Geostellar, an online solar rooftop marketplace, recently raised a $1 million round. We enjoyed working with them and it was great to hear David Levine, Geostellar's CEO, say that, “Return on Change was particularly helpful in finding the right investors for us.”
What is the best part about working at Return on Change?
That everyone has the freedom to implement new strategies and ideas. That level of freedom promotes creativity in the office since everyone on the team comes from various backgrounds. You can connect with us on returnonchange.com or @RoCSpeaks.
Why New York City?
Most of our team members were either raised or born in NYC and we all know that there’s no place like New York. We also happen to live in one of the most vibrant cities where the startup scene has been growing.
Do you have any company traditions?
I once tried to start a Twitter trend called #ThoughtfulThursdays but that didn't last too long because not everyone on the team uses Twitter. The general company culture is that when we work, we work, but we also know how to kick back and have a good time.
What qualities do you look for in employees?
We look for people who are excited about the notion of democratizing startup finance through equity crowdfunding, passionate about helping businesses that are innovative, and creative in coming up with solutions.
Favorite place in the city to nosh?
Pepe Giallo in Chelsea. It’s an Italian restaurant with a small outdoor garden in the back that’s perfect on warm days. It’s become a regular spot for the team and their lunch specials are great!
Any advice for recruits/college graduates looking to work at a company like Return on Change?
Come with an open mind and an appetite for curiosity and willingness to learn and hustle. What’s exciting about working in a startup is that you’ll get exposure to all various aspects of running a business. Don’t expect to work on the same project all the time and be ready to be challenged and contribute.
Find more information on company culture at Return on Change and other startups on our NYC Startups page.