New York Startup: Return On Change Crowd Investing For High Impact Startups INTERVIEW

As we get closer and closer to the SEC’s July 4th deadline to come up with rules for crowdfunding startups, we’re likely to see more and more crowdfunding startups emerge. Earlier this month we reported on Ohio crowdfunding startup Fundable who has already opened for business, with a more traditional Kickstarter, Indiegogo model until the crowdfunding rules are announced and brokers are approved.

A New York startup called Return on Change LLC, has also thrown their hit in the crowdfunding arena. They’re now in a private beta and promise to provide a way for investors to connect with game-changing startups.

“The timing could not be better,” said Sang Lee, founder of Return on Change. “We saw the huge potential in crowdfunding, and now, with the signing of the JOBS bill, look forward to connecting investors with ventures that can make a real difference.”

RoC also announced a contest that provides incentives for startups to register. The first 100 startups that meet RoC’s criteria will have the opportunity to win one of three $1,000 funding prizes. The company is seeking startups in the areas of clean energy, biomedical, social ventures and technology.

With all this excitement about crowdfunding we got a chance to speak with Sang Lee, one of the founders of Return On Change. Take a look at the interview below the break.

What is Returnonchange?
Return on Change (RoC)  is the next generation’s crowdinvesting platform to help high impact startups get the capital they need to get off the ground! RoC’s mission is to provide the most effective medium where startups and entrepreneurs will be able to pool capital from a previously untapped investor base (the crowd) while creating a community of transparency and dialogue between investors and startups.
RoC is providing its platform for high impact startups that fall within the following groups:
– HighTech
– CleanTech
– Bio / Med
– Social Ventures
We at RoC truly believe that these types of startups will be able to benefit the most from this new form of early stage capital not only from a funding aspect, but from the great support you could potentially receive from a huge group of investors! Simultaneously being able to achieve idea validation and capital funding is a huge breakthrough that will pave an amazing path for innovative startups!
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
I was really lucky to assemble an awesome team with various expertise and backgrounds really making the RoC team a formidable force.  There are several of us, including myself, that come from an investment banking background and we also have team members that are UX and branding experts for successful companies!  More information on our team can be found at:
Where are you based?
We are based out of NYC.
What is the problem Returnonchange solves?
Whether it be due to the faltering economy as a whole or a more specific issue with traditional early stage capital providers, we have seen so many startups fall by the wayside because they are not able to receive critical capital support at a time where it would determine the life or death of a startup company.  Additionally, entrepreneurship is increasingly a preferred route for young professionals which means there are going to be more startups.  The crowd is going to be the next life force for a lot of these startups.
Also, people often ask why they weren’t able to invest early stage in a lot of these startups that have recently demonstrated immense success.  This is the new opportunity where the everyday person can become a part of something amazing and great.  I would certainly like the opportunity to invest early on in something like facebook or google!
Crowdfunding is about to become a really overcrowded space, what is your secret sauce?
Well if I were to reveal that I don’t think it would be really be a secret sauce!
What I can say though is that I really think my team is going to be a huge plus for us.  We took a 360 degree approach on our business from day one and realized that something like this couldn’t only be approached from a web 2.0 perspective.  It’s going to be about the discussion amongst all of the parties that are going to be interacting on our platform whether it be investors, startups or RoC! Taking us back to our tagline ‘Everyone’s Invested!’
Also, I think we are going to see different ways of dealing with early stage finance.  The ubiquitous in person negotiations and meetings might fall by the wayside in preference for a more automated method of ‘negotiation’. Due diligence is going to be completed by a crowd.  It’s going to be really exciting how this changes the world for innovative startups.  RoC’s preparing for all of these changes.
What is one lesson you’ve learned in the startup process?
It’s definitely a process that’s hard to do alone.  But at the same time you can’t have people around you that are constantly agreeing with you.  Being challenged makes you think about your premises and assumptions transforming your business for the better.
It’s easy to try to make a team that’s assembled with like minded friends, but more than that everyone should look for someone that won’t blindly follow you.  More ‘no’ than ‘yes’ means you probably did something right when you created your team.  Being able to work through rocky patches will make your team much stronger in the long run.  A little tiff with your team is nothing to write home about.  I guarantee it will happen more than once.
Who are your mentors?
I would say that my team members are my mentors.  Each and everyone provides me with great new insights and perspectives that has been such a learning experience since our launch.
But even more than that, we have a great group of angel investors that provided us with our first round of capital that are serving as our mentors.
We are also organizing a group of advisors / friends that are ranging from academia and the professional realm from the various industries we are targeting.  It’s going to be great to have a thinktank telling us what industries players need the most from us.
What’s next for Returnonchange?
We are in very late stage development now and are planning launching our private beta July 2012.  We also just launched a contest for startups that you can access from our homepage ( where we wanted to reward well prepared and innovative startups before we were able to provide the full spectrum of services.  We are still in the SEC rule making period and while we are going to provide the private beta, full fledged access to the crowd is going to have to wait until the SEC lets us know that we are ready to proceed.
We are also a founding member of the National Crowdfunding Association ( and working around the clock to bring a centralized association for all those that want to be involved.  We have a broad horizontal approach wanted to help grow the industry while working on our business development!
 Find out more about Return on Change, here at their website
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