While the direct-to-investor model for IPOs is still rare relative to the number of traditional ones, there is a shift in how companies are thinking about going public, said Barry Schneider, chairman and CEO of Loyal3, a start-up that makes small amounts of IPO shares available to investors who are typically shut out of the process.
"Whether it's a user, or an employee or a supplier, every company has people that are passionate about it and that's why Loyal3 exists to give small investors the opportunity to have access to IPOs and other companies at large," he said.
Loyal3, which is helping take GoPro public this year, played a part in taking AMC Entertainment public in December (priced at $18, now trading at $24), and in January it was part of the Santander Consumer USA IPO (priced at $24, now trading around $19). It's scheduled to take four companies public before the end of June.
Loyal3 underwrites IPOs alongside Wall Street banks and allows investors with as little as $100 to invest in the companies it helps take public. It also allows investors with as little as $10 to invest the opportunity to buy shares in companies using its platform. There are no fees to buy, sell or transfer stock, Schneider said.
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"We want to help you put your toe in the water to start investing in companies that you care about and know about and over time eventually graduate to some bigger things," Schneider said.
"Two hundred million people could buy stock that are of age in the U.S., 35 million have brokerage accounts currently," he said. "Our interest is targeting the 165 million that don't."