NEW YORK (Reuters) - Scottish entrepreneurs Doug Barrowman and Michelle Mone are seeking to raise about $80 million in a token offering next month to finance an investment platform that they say should open up venture capital investing to a wider audience.
EQUI is a web-based application on the popular Ethereum blockchain. Projects are showcased on the platform and participants use EQUI tokens to acquire a stake in projects. Upon completion of the project, returns are then distributed to the venture’s investors.
“Venture capital has traditionally been the preserve of institutions and ultra-high net worth individuals. Basically the little guys are precluded,” Barrowman, a billionaire private equity investor, told Reuters in an interview last week.
“EQUI allows people to buy the token and actually invest in the propositions (businesses) that we have put forward in the investment platform,” he added.
The EQUI project is one of a multitude of ventures that have sought to raise funding through initial coin offerings: creating and selling tokens for investors.
Token buyers will be able to invest in business projects with a leaning toward technology, specifically in the blockchain space, according to EQUI’s whitepaper. Blockchain is the technology that underpins bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Depending on the number of the tokens they hold, investors who commit their coins to projects will receive 70 percent of profits generated by the ventures, said Barrowman. A further 5 percent will be awarded to those who leave their tokens on the EQUI platform, or have tokens that are uninvested.
Investors can also hold the token for long-term value, or use it to trade on exchanges, Barrowman said.
The EQUI platform utilizes the Ethereum blockchain to process and store credentials, information, and transactions, including the acquisition of project stakes, distribution of profits and investment returns, as well as investor rewards, its whitepaper said.
Mone, a member of the House of Lords and founder of the lingerie company Ultimo, said a pre-sale will run from March 1 to March 8. A minimum $100,000 investment is required to participate in that, she added, with a 25 percent bonus incentive.
The public ICO will run from March 8 to the end of the month. The project will have 250 million tokens in supply, of which 65 percent will be released for sale to investors, with each token priced at 50 U.S. cents, Barrowman said.
Barrowman and Mone have collaborated before. They launched a residential and commercial property development in Dubai last year valued at 250 million pounds ($350 million), with residences that can be purchased in bitcoin.
Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien