BY PAIGE FRANK
Darren Powderly, CEO of CrowdStreet
// Photo by Joe Kline
Founders of a Bend-based crowdfunding company are betting that the online masses will be as hungry to invest in old-school commercial real estate as they have been to back Spike Lee movies and premium hooded sweatshirts. CEO Darren Powderly and his two partners launched CrowdStreet in September, offering for as little as $5,000 shares in six commercial real estate projects in California and Oregon. CrowdStreet will eventually list commercial real estate investments in other Western states. “We’re taking that whole concept of real estate syndication, and we’re applying today’s technology,” Powderly says. For now, only “accredited” investors with a net worth of at least $1 million or earnings over $200,000 can invest through CrowdStreet. But Powderly expects the pending Securities and Exchange Commission rules and regulations for the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act will “democratize” commercial real estate investing. “When the JOBS Act was announced, we knew immediately that the crowdfunding concept could be applied to investment real estate, and we just went for it,” he says. “There’s a whole bunch of up-and-coming Gen Xers and younger folks who are comfortable with this behavior of transacting online.” CrowdStreet caters to hands-off investors not interested in the day-to-day management of shopping centers, apartment complexes and office parks. Investors pay nothing to CrowdStreet, which makes money by charging fees to property owners with projects listed on the site, says Powderly, who has sold commercial real estate for 10 years.
PRODUCT: Commercial real estate crowdfunding investment platform
CEO: Darren Powderly
MONEY TRAIL: “We have not gone out and raised $1 million worth of [venture capital] money just to see if we have a good idea,” Powderly says. “We’ve bootstrapped this with very conservative resources. At some point in time, we will have to raise a lot more capital and expand and hire 15 to 20 people to grow the business, but at this point, we’re lean and mean.”
FRAUD CONTROL: CrowdStreet vets investments and the people behind them through criminal background and reference checks. “We really want to, maybe more so than anything else, prevent any bad actors from participating in our site,” Powderly says.