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People have turned to crowdfunding to raise money for everything from potato salad to personal submarines. But one entrepreneur is banking on crowdfunding in a new market: real estate.
"We are the e-trade of real estate investing," said William Skelley. Skelley co-founded start-up iFunding, a real estate crowdfunding platform connecting investors with developers.
Watch Skelley model his big idea to a "Power Pitch" panel with real estate broker Ryan Serhant of "Million Dollar Listing New York," Dolly Lenz, real estate super broker, and Alicia Syrett, CEO of Pantegrion Capital. Will Skelly close the deal with this panel, or will they see his venture as a fixer upper?
Skelley used to run a boutique investment bank that endorsed commercial projects like hospitality properties and condos. He later joined Rose Park Advisors, a hedge fund, which invested in CircleUp.
"[CircleUp] is now the largest crowdfunding angel investing platform in the U.S., with a recent $7 million cash investment from Google and Union Square Ventures. I realized the same potential for innovation is applicable to real estate, " Skelley told CNBC.
IFunding works as the link between real estate developers and investors. Accredited investors can use the platform for free and "shop" for real estate opportunities.
"Investors can contribute as little as $5,000 to participate in an investment property of their choice," the founder told CNBC.
Investment opportunities on the platform include a single family home in Wisconsin, new developments in Texas and a high-rise development in Lower Manhattan.
The start-up even offers two investment options: lending money for a real estate project at a specific interest rate paid by the project's developer, or purchasing equity in the real estate projects.
IFunding also offers users a mobile app available on iOS and Android devices, which the founders say is the first mobile app for real estate crowdfunding.
During the segment, Serhant asked, "What benchmarks or requirements does iFunding have for people who want to become investors."
Skelley explained that accredited investors as defined by the SEC must make an income of $200,000 or more from the past two years, or have $1 million in liquid assets not including a primary residence.
According to the IbisWorld market research report, the global real estate market grew to $6 trillion as of November.
The real estate crowdfunding space is crowded. IFunding's competitors include: Realty Mogul, Patch of Land, Fundrise, Real Crowd and Realtyshares.
"Many of us think there's room for several to become leaders," Skelley told CNBC. He also said he believes iFunding's emphasis on equity is unique.
According to the founder, the iFunding platform has raised almost $30 million for 27 real estate projects from Brooklyn, New York, to Austin, Texas.
Skelley and his co-founder, Sohin Shah, forecast $500,000 in revenue by the end of 2014, and project to be profitable by the end of 2015.
The founders bootstrapped the start-up with $600,000. And before seeking venture capital the start-up is crowdfunding an additional $2 million via crowdfunder.com. Its fundraising began in early December and in three days, it raised over $1 million.
Headquartered in midtown Manhattan, iFunding has 12 employees with around 5,000 accredited investors signed up to date.
During the Power Pitch, viewers were asked to vote whether they were IN or Out on iFunding, and 72% were IN. Watch the video to see if the Power Pitch panel agrees!
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