Emily Pollack, Head of US Retail Operations at Republic – Interview Series
Emily Pollack, is the Head of US Retail Operations at Republic, a crowdfunding investment platform that allows individuals to invest in startups, and growth-stage pre-IPO companies.
Disclaimer: The views below are representative of Emily Pollack, Head of US Retail Operations, and not necessarily Republic’s.
Could you share with us the genesis story of how Republic got started?
Our Co-founder and CEO, Kendrick Nguyen, started Republic after serving as the General Counsel at AngelList. Living in the Bay Area during the 90s, Kendrick was surrounded by the enormous wealth that was being created by the first dot-com boom and was inspired by the smart young programmers who made millions, if not billions of dollars while bringing new technologies into the world.
Seeing these individuals build the future, Kendrick came up with the idea for Republic. As an immigrant from Vietnam, Kendrick wanted to democratize access to the private markets and create opportunities for financial inclusion across all asset classes. Republic is a private investment platform that allows everyone to invest in private markets. Today, it operates a retail investment platform, a private capital division, and a blockchain incubator and fund. To date, we’ve helped our community of 2.5M+ users invest in over 1300 deals globally. Some of our portfolio companies include Customer.io, Gumroad, and Unbanked.
When you invest on Republic, you’re not just another shareholder. You become an integral part and owner of early stage companies creating our future.
Republic recently acquired Seedrs, Europe’s leading online private investment platform for $100m (£86.5m). How will this accelerate Republic’s penetration into Europe?
We have always believed that you need to be a player of scale to serve the markets effectively. The acquisition of Seedrs in September allows Republic to do this and operate cross-border across all key markets. Both Republic and Seedrs have developed unique strengths within their respective geographies and the combination of the two platforms puts us in the position to offer better products and services for founders and investors, on a global stage.
We are just getting started leveraging the strengths of both Republic and Seedrs to build a powerful platform that provides access to capital for private businesses and opportunities for investors everywhere. There is great potential for us to deliver new innovative products and services in Europe and we see this as a key growth market opportunity. With the acquisition, Republic will continue to redefine private investing by leading on customer service, innovation, and supporting diversity and trust.
A leading competitor StartEngine recently announced plans to acquire SeedInvest, how will this impact the industry and should we expect further market consolidation?
I mentioned earlier that we have always believed that you need to be a player of scale to serve the markets effectively. Market consolidation is bound to happen in our industry and continue to happen in a global capacity. The acquisition of SeedInvest by StartEngine shows the importance of continuing to scale and diversifying across products and services.
Why should investors consider investing in early-stage crowdfunding versus more traditional investments such as bonds, stocks, or even cryptocurrency?
While this is not investment advice and my opinions are my own, it’s widely known that diversification is one of the keys to a healthy investment portfolio. Diversification is one of the best and easiest ways to hedge against risk and potentially increase your chances of making a return. In today’s environment, we’re seeing players diversify into alternatives and move away from the traditional 80/20 or 60/40 models.
When you invest through Republic’s ecosystem, you provide capital in exchange for a financial stake in a company, fund or project – this may be in real estate, the arts, video games, a crypto project or early stage company. While these can be high risk opportunities, Republic gives investors the ability to diversify across many opportunities and own a piece of projects they believe in. You can check out our blog for more information on how to diversify across private investment opportunities.
For entrepreneurs who are considering raising money using equity crowdfunding, why should they consider Republic versus competing platforms such as StartEngine and WeFunder?
The Republic ecosystem can compliantly support a founder’s needs at any stage of their fundraising journey on a global scale. We not only help founders raise via traditional crowdfunding (under Regulation CF and A), similar to our competition, but we also have the ability to help founders raise under Regulation D, Regulations S, and have two additional arms, a private capital division and a full service crypto advisory team that has guided dozens of projects to market with innovative tokenization strategies.
We’ve seen founders come to Republic and leverage multiple products and services across our divisions. In addition, we’ve seen our unique focus on compliance as a competitive advantage.
What are some common traits in entrepreneurs that are successful at raising funds on the Republic platform?
A successful raise on the Republic platform requires a founder to invest time and effort into marketing the campaign to their audience. The more a founder is able to leverage their friends, community and network, the more Republic also markets the opportunity to our community of 2.5 million members. You can read more about Republic’s marketing activities here.
What are some of the most successful company raises and exits (IPOs or acquisitions) that have been seen on the platform?
While investing on Republic is risky and many startups have and may fail, and past performance of one investment opportunity does not predict the future success of another, there have been several successful company raises. Republic’s portfolio companies have gone on to raise over $510M in follow on funding post-campaign, at as much as 11x the valuation they raised on Republic. A few select examples are:
- Bobbie raised a $50M Series B led by Park West Ventures
- AltoIRA raised a $17M Series A followed by a $40M Series B led by Unusual Ventures and Advance Venture Partners respectively
- Maven raised a $20M Series A from A16Z
Republic will soon have a new founder community called Rise, what is this specifically?
Rise will be Republic’s founder community, which encompasses 30,000 founders who have been part of the Republic journey since 2016. The mission of Rise will be to democratize access to founder events, resources and education. We plan on offering partners the opportunity to co-host events with us and advertise relevant products in our Rise with Republic newsletter, launching by EoY.
What is your vision for the future of equity crowdfunding?
I believe we’re just getting started. The power of community is strong and can offer entrepreneurs significant capital, connections, and resources. As the industry and regulations progress, I believe equity crowdfunding will become more widely adopted among founders and investors, and will pave the way for new innovations and opportunities within private investing.
Is there anything else that you would like to share about Republic?
While Republic is generally known for crowdfunding, which is core to who we are, there’s more to what we offer. We also provide seed-to-liquidity solutions via our vertically integrated Crypto products including advisory, financing, token engineering and token offerings that connect top tier blockchain projects with their communities. Further, Republic Capital provides access to extensive deal flow to family offices, ultra high net worth individuals and institutions across multiple stages, sectors, and locations. And most recently, Republic is expanding into Asia, starting with our investments and partnerships in Korea.
If you’re interested in learning more and following along, check out our parent site, Group.Republic.com and follow along on Twitter @JoinRepublic.
Thank you for the great interview, readers interested in crowdfunding should keep Republic on their radar.