Good Info from David Marlett

My last post described my feeling that NLCFA executive director David Marlett entered the field in a “scheming, detached, and adversarial” way, based on his organization’s first press release, but it turns out that I didn’t have the full story, and I apologize for not talking with him and including his perspective about those early days.

I phoned Marlett this past weekend as he drove back home (to Texas) from the Clinton Global Initiative America conference (in Chicago).  He told me that in the weeks before his April 2nd announcement, he reached out to key people in the crowdfunding reform movement, and that on Friday, March 30th, three days before the Monday announcement, he held a conference call with about 30 of them to discuss his plan to start the NLCFA.  He started the call by honoring key people who had worked to get the legislation passed, and acknowledging that he had not been involved. Toward the end of the call, he asked whether anyone had any objections to his starting up a crowdfunding industry organization and to him being its interim Executive Director. In response, there was only silence. Marlett recorded the entire call.  Afterwards, Marlett says he received numerous supportive emails.

Regarding the characterization that the NLCFA is largely a sole effort, Marlett invited me to contact any of the dozens of people listed on the association’s website as holding Board of Director or Nationwide Leadership positions, to confirm that he often tells them “this is not the Marlett show!” — to remind them of how important their opinions are.

More importantly, Marlett said that people at the CGI America conference were very interested in crowdfunding and in the NLCFA — including Bill Clinton himself, who answered Marlett that he had written about crowdfunding in his book. (I just did an “Look Inside” with Clinton’s Back to Work, and indeed on page 177 he advocates crowdfunding “to help small businesses raise needed capital.”  He also cites the 2010 petition from the Sustainable Economies Law Center to the SEC, which longtime readers of this blog have known about from the very beginning.)

Marlett also told me about some great-sounding efforts and ideas that the NLCFA and his consulting firm have cooking:

  • Veterans program. A program for veterans, designed to educate and empower the veteran population regarding crowdfunding opportunities. This will be announced soon via press release.
  • Education partnership. An alliance with major corporations to run a program for educating the public about crowdfunding.  This will also be announced soon.
  • Continuing Professional Education. The NLCFA is educating attorneys, CPAs, and other professionals about how crowdfunding will change their practices, and hopes to develop a curriculum that qualifies for fulfilling Continuing Professional Education credits.
  • Franchise contracts. In franchise-based businesses, the parent company typically wants one person to own and operate each franchise. David’s consulting firm is looking at how a potential franchisee might use crowdfunding via a holding company to fund the purchase of a franchise, thereby turning what would otherwise be a franchisor’s nightmare (500 shareholders for a single location) into a mechanism for greater expansion.

Marlett also clarified something that had confused me regarding the May 23rd press release from the International Crowd Funding Association (ICFA), which I linked to in my previous post. The announcement bore the title “The International Crowd Funding Association (ICFA) has announced a merger with the National Crowd Funding Board” but there is no “National Crowd Funding Board.”  Marlett told me that the announcement came out after ICFA founder Mark Jones tried unsuccessfully to convince Marlett to join the board of the ICFA and to bring the NLCFA into the ICFA. The release seems to be referring to that non-event, calling the NLCFA by the wrong name. Marlett had the press released pulled by PRWeb, and the ICFA replaced it on May 24 with another announcement sporting a baffling title, “The International Crowd Funding Association (‘ICFA’) has Announced that Over Compliance has Arrived.”