Women and minority founders often struggle to get the funding they need to start or grow their businesses. Historically, traditional venture capital has strongly favored founders that are white and male. Democratizing access to startup capital is one of the many reasons that online startup investing was established.

Small Change is a real estate equity crowdfunding platform that helps founders — including women and people of color — raise capital for their projects. What’s more, Small Change’s proprietary index measures the impact of each project. We reached out to founder and CEO Eve Picker to hear more about the company’s primary customer types and how it differs from competitors.

Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Funding Round Details

Small Change logo
Company: Small Change
Security Type: SAFE
Valuation: $10,000,000
Min Investment: $250
Platform: Wefunder
Deadline: Apr 30, 2023
View Deal

What inspired you to take the leap and start Small Change?

As a female developer, I know how difficult it is for women to raise capital for real estate projects. Some people might be shocked by the statistic that only 1.9% of venture capital (VC) funding went to women entrepreneurs last year. But to me, that seems high!  

The statistics for minorities are even worse. TechCrunch recently reported that Black founders raised only 1% of VC funds allocated in 2022. You can just imagine how difficult it must be for Black women to raise money for real estate projects — especially in an industry like commercial real estate, which has traditionally been the purview of white males.

I started with the goal of democratizing real estate, both on the development and the investment side. Regulation Crowdfunding, launched by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2016, made it possible for me to create a platform where developers can build a network of color- and gender-blind investors for their projects — and a platform where anyone who is 18 or over, no matter where they live or what the color of their skin is, can invest in real estate assets and build wealth.

What is Small Change’s impact?

Our goal is to disrupt the old boy’s club and find opportunities for minorities and women real estate developers. Commercial real estate development has been and still is an industry largely populated by white men. To date, we’ve listed 43 projects in 24 cities, helping to raise almost $12 million in aggregate. Sixty percent of those projects are minority- and/or women-led.   

We track social impact through our proprietary Small Change Index. Each project must meet a threshold of at least 60% of the criteria in the index to qualify for a listing on the platform. That threshold has led to the following results in addition to the ones stated above:

  • 65% of the projects listed have an affordable housing component.
  • 81% are bringing investments to neighborhoods that haven’t had any for a while.
  • 82% are close to transit options, with the hope of a car-free future.
  • And 76% are in walkable locations.

What does the competitive landscape look like, and how do you differentiate?

We are unique. Although there are funding portals that host real estate listings and there are real estate platforms that have real investment opportunities for accredited investors, there is no other real estate crowdfunding platform focused on impact. That is what sets us apart.  

Have you achieved profitability?

Not quite yet, but we are close to breaking even.

How do you find investors to back the projects on your platform?

Most people want to invest in the people and places they know, so the developers and their networks are key! We urge project leads to reach out to their local communities and make the most of their personal and business connections. But at the same time, we have built and are growing an extensive list of loyal investors who have invested in multiple projects on our platform.  

Who is on your team and how did you come together?

I am a solo entrepreneur, but I have built a skilled and loyal team to support me. My key advisor and minority partner in Small Change is Dutch MacDonald, who I’ve known for many years. Dutch is an architect by training, just like I am. He designed many of the buildings in my own real estate portfolio. Currently, Dutch is a digital and design lead and managing director and partner at BCG. 

Other key people who round out my team include a top SEC attorney, a compliance consultant, a coding team, a social media manager, and a bookkeeping team. In addition, we have an outstanding group of strategic advisors who are all at the top of their respective fields.

As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? Have you set any future goals for the company?

Our focus over the last several years has been on our credibility as a funding option, with the anticipated dividend of more skilled developers seeking to raise more money. That focus is paying off. Our pipeline is currently around 156 deals, with potential listings of around $450 million. At the bottom of the funnel, once our filters are applied, live listings, agreements signed, agreements sent, and hot prospects total $98 million.  

There are two primary customer types at Small Change: the small developer, who we will always serve, and large developers who are becoming aware of the opportunity to list their project on the platform to let the community they are working in participate. Onboarding these larger developers is a much longer process, but typically, they have multi-phased projects and plan to repeat offerings with each phase. We intend to proactively reach out to this group next to build this line of business.  

Our goal is to make sure that this business continues to grow and serve our customers, whether we are at the helm or not. A perfect “exit” would be a merger with a larger real estate crowdfunding platform that sees value in adding our services to their portfolio and is committed to the same mission.  

In the meantime, we’re proud to be listing our own community round on Wefunder.

We look forward to seeing where Eve and her team take the company. Small Change is currently raising on Wefunder.