Former Cassidy Turley Execs Launch CRE Crowdfunding Platform
- May 06, 2015
Touting their decades of experience and focus on service, several former top officials of Cassidy Turley have founded Selequity, a new crowdfunding platform designed to attract investors for commercial real estate projects.
“Selequity is going to be a game-changer for the commercial real estate industry,” Mark Burkhart, a Selequity founding partner and former CEO of Cassidy Turley, said in a news release. “Our Selequity team is comprised of industry veterans who have more than 100 years of combined commercial real estate experience and a vast network of real estate professionals. We are here to serve the industry and bring quality properties to investors looking to diversify their portfolios.”
The St. Louis-based startup’s founding team includes: AJ Chivetta, CEO, who was part of Cassidy Turley’s legal team from Armstrong Teasdale; Bill Florent, CFO of Selequity and the former Cassidy Turley CFO; and Maria Desloge, also formerly of the Armstrong Teasdale law firm and now Selequity’s COO.
The founders have filled out their team with experts in technology and marketing including Ken Herold, the Chief Technology Officer who previously served as Chief Knowledge Officer at HOK, one of the world’s largest architecture and engineering firms, and Bob Couch, chief marketing officer, who comes to Selequity after nearly two decades in top-level jobs in Silicon Valley.
Cassidy Turley, formerly the third-largest commercial real estate services firm in the United States and largest privately-held company, was sold last year to DTZ.
Selequity launched this week at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York City, the first CRE crowdfunding company to compete in the Startup Battlefield. The annual event invites 30 early stage companies to launch for the first time in front of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs as well as TechCrunch editors to compete for a $50,000 prize. The winner is to be announced today.
Chivetta made the pitch for Selequity and answered questions about the firm, founded in 2014.
“It’s a great way for us to launch our site,” Chivetta told Commercial Property Executive.
He said the former Cassidy Turley executives decided to create a CRE crowdfunding company after “seeing the opportunity of the JOBS Act and how transformative it would be.”
Chivetta was referring to the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act signed into law April 2012 that is designed to streamline the way startups and small businesses could raise funds by selling equity capital and soliciting small investments over the Internet. Laws dating back to the 1933 Securities Act previously limited how funds could be raised through investors.
“Selequity is taking what used to be the cumbersome process of manually raising capital and putting it online in a straightforward, easy-to-use platform,” he said in a release. “With Selequity, we are not only helping to open up opportunities for 8 million accredited investors, we are also providing much-need services to real estate owners looking to raise capital in a faster, more efficient way than ever before.”
Selequity, which expects its online platform to go live in several weeks with a variety of CRE investment opportunities, provides accredited investors the ability to search online for investments in professionally-operated, private real estate investment deals. The CRE owners, or sponsors, have the ability to use the Selequity network to access a broader range of accredited investors.
“This wasn’t the first time we all had experience building a website or technology,” Chivetta told CPE. “Cassidy Turley had developed some really great workflow software for corporate clients. This is very much workflow technology.”
The technology streamlines the evaluation and investment process and makes it easier for both property owners and investors to track and manage ongoing investments. Chivetta said each investor will have his or her own personal profile to upload information and reports from the owner. For the sponsors, the technology will help them create investors reports much more easily.
Even with advanced software and technology, Chivetta said the commercial real estate industry is still a service-oriented business and the experience the Selequity team has in working with clients is what will differentiate them from other crowdfunding platforms.
“Those connections help us source projects,” he told CPE. “Those connections help us vet projects.”
Chivetta said they have built “a completely new kind of service model.”
He said they have “addressed the issues that are historically important to the real estate industry with all the new technology that we can bring to bear.”