Welcome to the first Gust Launch Founder Spotlight! Gust Launch supports a variety of exciting founders doing amazing things. We figured it was about time we start showcasing that. In this ongoing series we’ll highlight the experiences of Gust Launch founders, in their own words, as they navigate the challenges of early-stage entrepreneurship.
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The Founder, the company, and why we're excited
Our first founder is Mike Audi, CEO of TIKI Inc. We’re excited about TIKI because they’re working on the noble mission of putting control of user data back in the hands of users. Mike is a startup veteran specializing in bringing data-driven B2C & B2B products to market. He is passionate about the power of data, transparency, and people.
Read on to see his answers to our questions about TIKI's startup journey including how they've navigated fundraising, why they're excited about crowdfunding, and how Gust has helped.
What's TIKI, and why is it cool?
There is no way to overstate the reality of our current situation: Data is the currency that rules our modern world. As technological advancements continue to accelerate and change, data is the fuel that powers our massive, interconnected world and will continue to shape our future. It is up to us whether it's used for our benefit or as a means of control.
With TIKI, you decide what data companies collect, how they use it, and when they do, you get paid your fair share. Users control their online data and engage in mutually beneficial relationships with the businesses they patronize. Data is anonymized on device-level and grouped with anonymous data from other TIKI users to create knowledge graphs, or insights, for businesses. Businesses purchase the insights, for which we charge a 10% transaction fee to successfully reach and understand a wider audience, ultimately growing their customer base. All without cookies, pixels, fingerprints or any other shady tracking tactics. In exchange for these valuable insights, users are compensated in the form of real money. In this model, users have complete agency over sharing their data (to whom the data is sold) and are protected by TIKI's unique encryption model.
Choice is just another way of saying free will. TIKI simply gives users a choice where they previously had none.
Almost every move we make online or off is tracked and monetized by thousands of companies behind the scenes. We're being manipulated, exploited, ripped off, and we all know it.
Data is this generation's gold rush. The next hundred years will be decided by who controls it. Shouldn't that be us, the users, not big tech? After all, it's our data.
Why crowdfunding and what was surprising about it?
We're not building TIKI like companies of the past. More of the same cannot solve this problem. Before anything, we wrote down three uncompromising values: user-centricity, transparency, and trust.
To solve our data nightmare means putting the user first, above all.
This is where crowdfunding comes in; investment, particularly early investment, has a funny way of shaping and shifting a company's priorities. Making our users our investors helps ensure that the user always comes first at TIKI, not just now, but always.
Equity crowdfunding is new(ish). Financial and legal communities aren't known to move particularly fast. Hell, we still run into investors who don't know what a SAFE note is. For us, the newness of it all showed up in hidden delays and marketing legalities, such as:
- Due to compliance, specific phrasing is often required, leading to multiple rounds of edits and checks, ultimately adding weeks to the process.
- Preparing the campaign page requires the platform’s team involvement for certain changes, quickly stretching timelines.
- There are a lot of gray areas in marketing your campaign. As to be expected, legal advice is stricter than what we see from most campaigns. The general rule of thumb has been to stay away from mentioning the terms of the deal.
- Campaign lengths are typically quite long. The default on StartEngine is six months! You can shorten it; we planned a quick 60-day campaign.
- There is a required 30-day quiet period between deals. We raised some angel money, then had to pause and wait to kick off the campaign.
In the grand scheme of things, equity crowdfunding can be a huge win for founders. The terms are very founder-friendly, and it's an opportunity to build a large community of early advocates. The thousands of new investors you have will tell all their friends to install the app. It's in their best interest it succeeds!
How did Gust Launch help?
Just having all of our corporate documents organized and accessible in one place was a huge win. Let alone the quality and thoroughness of Gust's documents. Stock grants, option pools, SAFE notes, they're all required for the SEC filing. Including little specifics like you must have the stamped certificate of incorporation. You will need all of the documents founders often overlook or misplace.
You need an up-to-date, clean Cap Table, with noteholders, vesting schedules, EIP, etc. We used Gust Launch to issue all of our various equity programs, and as such, this was just another 1-click download. Similarly, we needed to file an amendment authorizing additional shares for the round, which can be tricky with notes, option pools, and an unknown raise amount. Gust's equity modeling made it a breeze to figure it out.
Where can I find the campaign?
Check out our campaign at startengine.com/tiki. Investments range wildly in size from small to very large. We'd love to have you join the TIKI tribe. Campaign closes on October 31, Halloween! 🎃
Where can I learn more about TIKI?
Head to https://mytiki.com for all things TIKI. We publish everything we do, radical transparency!
Gust Launch keeps your docs straight and cap table clean for whatever your first raise is.
This article is intended for informational purposes only, and doesn't constitute tax, accounting, or legal advice. Everyone's situation is different! For advice in light of your unique circumstances, consult a tax advisor, accountant, or lawyer.