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FrontFundr’s Peter-Paul Van Hoeken on Democratizing the Private Markets

A business consultant and banker by trade, Peter-Paul Van Hoeken had a front-row seat to how limiting the capital raising process is. Entrepreneurs were facing a limited pool of capital. Meanwhile, the general public didn’t even have access to investing in these promising, young companies. He knew there had to be a better way. So, Van Hoeken became an entrepreneur himself and created Canada’s leading online private market investment platform: FrontFundr.

The premise is simple: Allow anyone to invest in startups and growing companies.

Utilizing technology and exemptions recently introduced by Canadian securities regulators, FrontFundr allows Canadians to invest in private companies for as little as $100. This opens the doors to a new investment class for everyday investors while allowing entrepreneurs to raise funding from the people who see the potential in their company’s growth.

“There are all of these founders with innovative ideas that just need a little bit more funding to realize their vision. There are women and BIPOC founders who find themselves being left out of funding conversations. All the while, there’s this huge untapped resource of capital: The people who believe in them most. Their communities. The public.”

When a company raises capital on FrontFundr, it can accept investments from anyone who has access to the internet. It’s not meant to be a replacement to the traditional startup funding world, but rather a welcomed addition that harnesses and highlights the power of building community and allows the general public to have a say—and a stake—in what companies they want to see succeed.

Considering that nearly 30 percent of startups fail due to a lack of funding, opening up the potential pool of capital to everyday Canadians can be the difference between success and failure. Not to mention, it’s a great way for retail investors to diversify their portfolios.

Just as WealthSimple made investing in the stock market accessible for Canadians, Van Hoeken hopes that FrontFundr will bring private market investing to the masses.

FrontFundr’s team alongside Founder Peter-Paul Van Hoeken.

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So far, it’s going pretty well: FrontFundr has been the catalyst for Canadians investing over $140 million in private market opportunities, with a community of over 30,000 users helping fund 110+ campaigns.

It’s a feat that Van Hoeken doesn’t take lightly. What may seem like an overnight success took years of working with securities regulators behind the scenes. Van Hoeken and his team worked closely with regulators across the country, championing the idea that everyday investors deserved access to private market opportunities.

And finally, last fall, regulators introduced the same rules for accepting private market investments from retail investors across the country and increased capital raising limits for companies using investment crowdfunding rules. It’s helped Van Hoeken and his team take FrontFundr to new heights.

“We’re at an inflexion point as both a company and an industry. We’ve seen a 25 percent increase in investor activity quarter over quarter and we’re on track to have a record number of live investment opportunities on our platform this month. It’s really exciting to see.”

Van Hoeken puts his money where his mouth is. Not only has he invested in numerous companies on the platform (19 investments and counting!) himself, FrontFundr utilizes its own platform to accept investments from the public itself.

“I deeply believe in this way of raising capital. It’s the ultimate way you can demonstrate you believe in your product, by putting it to the public. This is our fourth time raising capital on our own platform, and each raise has been bigger than the last.”

As FrontFundr continues to grow, he looks forward to welcoming new investors along for the ride. But more importantly, Van Hoeken is excited to see how this growth will have a larger, positive effect on the world of startup funding and investing overall. After all, it’s why he started the company in the first place.

“Private market investing was long due for an overhaul. Entrepreneurs deserve equitable access to capital. Retail investors deserve equitable access to invest in them. FrontFundr makes that possible.”

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