Frequently Asked Questions
What is the SVX?
The SVX is a secure, online platform that allows you to invest in companies and funds that have a positive social or environmental impact. Think of it as a one-stop-shop for impact investing.
We bring all sorts of venture opportunities direct to you through the platform. All of the products on our platform are Canadian private market securities. Through the SVX, you can browse active opportunities to support scaling social impact ventures and seek financial return. We are fully compliant with all securities laws and registered as an Exempt Market Dealer in Ontario, Québec, Alberta and British Columbia. We're excited to help you achieve postive impact alongside financial return!
How does SVX work?
SVX uses crowdfunding and direct placement to support capital raising by impact ventures and funds. Investors and issuers can manage their investments on the platform, have 24-hour access to all documents in one place, and make transactions through the platform.
For entrepreneurs, SVX allows you to list your company and its securities, tailor your fundraising page, and bring on investors. You can manage the investments through the platform and can communicate with your investors directly through one portal. You decide the entry level, raise amount, and investment terms and keep all of your funding needs in one place. You set the investment terms, and we bring you the interested investors. Simple! SVX is all about putting control back into the hands of the investors and entrepreneurs to create opportunity.
For investors, you can log in online and view active investing opportunites. You are able to view information about the company, including financial history and traction, and decide if you're interested in investing. If you are, we will walk you through the process and then you can make the transaction directly online. You are able to keep in touch with your investees through our investor dashboard. Streamlined, simple, and strategic.
What is equity crowdfunding?
Equity crowdfunding is all about using the power of many to make big things happen for young companies.
Previously, only "accredited investors" could invest directly in private companies. That meant that investments like Uber and Airbnb were off-limits to the average person. Luckily, Canadian regulations changed in 2016 to allow anyone to take part. Equity crowdfunding allows "retail investors", you and me, to review startups and invest in them. We're very happy to source opportunities here for you to view and consider as investments.
Is the website secure?
SVX is a very secure platform. We use 128 bit encryption, the very same encryption that is used by major banks all over the world. We also set a time limit of 15 minutes for inactivity, so that your membership cannot be accessed without your knowledge if you forget to log out.
Where can I find a glossary that helps me understand all of these investment terms?
Glad you asked! We created a full glossary of terms that you can find right in the footer of the website. Happy reading! There will be a pop quiz later, so study hard.
How is SVX connected to MaRS?
SVX is an initiative of MaRS Discovery District. While it is separately incorporated, we receive support and deal flow from MaRS. Our ventures can access their incredible resources as well, so it's a win-win.
What do you mean by impact?
We are trying to create positive social and environmental changes in the world. We want to live in a world that is both sustainable and provides equal opportunities for all its citizens. For more about how we define impact and how the opportunities on our platform are screened, please visit our Impact page.
How can we get in touch with you to ask a question that's not listed here?
We'd love to hear from you! Please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is an Exempt Market Dealer and what does it mean to be registered?
You're probably familiar with the idea of investing in the public markets, for example in companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. We're doing something a bit different here at SVX. We're offering you opportunities in the "exempt market", or a section of the capital markets that aren't available on public exchanges like the TSX, New York Stock Exchange, and the NASDAQ. The financial products on SVX are in emerging companies and funds who are hoping to grow quickly, and we want you to get in early.
In the exempt market, you need to be registered with the financial regulators to offer these types of products. That's why we're registered as an Exempt Market Dealer (EMD) with the Ontario Securities Commissions (OSC). As an EMD, we offer a variety of options to investors looking for private market deals, from equity crowdfunding to private placements for accredited investors. And because we're a registered EMD, that means the Ontario Securities Commission oversees us and we report to them regularly.
But wait - EMD? OSC? What are all these acronyms?
We know all these words can get confusing! Don't worry, we're here to help. We're happy to answer any of your questions about the private financial markets. Shoot us an email at email@example.com to get in touch.
What do you mean by prospectus exemptions?
When we talk about prospectus exemptions, we're really talking about the different ways that an issuer can raise money. As an Exempt Market Dealer, our issuers are able to raise money in many ways through our platform. Visit our How It Works page to understand all of the different ways an issuer can offer securities, from equity crowdfunding to direct placement opportunities. You can also learn more by reading the handy documents in the footer below, or reading more in the Investor or Issuer FAQ sections.
What are the rules and regulations that govern this work?
Investing in Canada is governed by provincial and national securities laws and regulations. These kind of offerings have particular rules and requirements that are called Prospectus Exemptions (See question above). You can read more by reading our handy document on Risks and Regulations in the footer below. SVX is registered with local securities regulators as an Exempt Market Dealer (EMD) - allowing us to operate a platform that is able to offer investments using categories of private market securities.
How do I sign up?
It's easy! If you're an impact investor, entrepreneur, organization, or fund manager, go to the top right of the screen and click Sign-up. If you are already registered, just click on Login.
Does it cost anything to be a part of the SVX investor community?
No! You can sign-up for free to be a part of our investor community and to view investment opportunities on SVX.
Can I invest in SVX opportunities if I'm not Canadian?
Unfortunately at this time we're only able to service Canadian investors. However, we're delighted to have partners in the US and Mexico who can help you if you're based there. Check them out! Links to SVX US and SVX Mexico
Can I sign up for the SVX if I'm not located in Ontario?
SVX is currently available for investors in Ontario, Quebec, BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan. We will be expanding to other provinces in Canada soon. If you are an investor in another province, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What ID do you need to collect to allow me to invest?
We would ask that you provide us with a copy of government-issued photo identification, like a driver's license or a health card. We will do a quick check to verify your identity. If for some reason we can't confirm your identity using your photo ID we'll be in touch to try to use one of the other methods approved by regulators.
Why do you need to collect my ID?
Unfortunately, some people would want to take advantage of the new equity crowdfunding rules to launder money earned through nefarious practices. We want to make sure the folks on SVX are real people, living in Canada. This helps us protect the integrity of the platform for both the investor and venture community.
Why should I invest in early stage ventures and private securities?
Private market securities are usually issued by growing companies who are looking for capital to scale. Often times, these opportunities are hard to access and you can't get in when there is a potential for a large return later on. SVX sources these types of private market securities that also work to solve a social or environmental problems our community faces.
What are the risks of investing in early stage ventures and private market securities?
Investing in early stage companies and private securities has significant risk. It is not like investing in the stock market, a GIC or a mutual fund. You shouldn't allocate a large percentage of your retirement savings or your general investment portfolio to investing in start-ups. Sometimes these investments don't turn out as planned, so you need to be in a financial position to handle the hit and aware that you are not guaranteed a return. Also, private market securities are less liquid than public market securities, so you need to be able to put that investment away for a while without needing access to the cash immediately. For a list of the most common risks, read our backgrounder on Regulations and Risks in the footer below.
How can I manage my risks?
Investing in crowdfunding and exempt market offerings has significant risk. You can't eliminate risks in investing, but you can find ways to manage them. You may consider investing in sectors or companies that you know well, and particularly those ventures you may support as a customer or user. Investing in what you know and believe in will help you better manage risk. You should also consider diversifying your portfolio of issuers, and spreading your risk across a number of potential investments.
Can I re-sell my investment?
You should assume you cannot re-sell your investment. Most of these investments have resale restrictions, as private companies and funds carefully manage the number and type of shareholders they have as investors. Moreover, there is no liquid secondary market for private companies and funds, which means there is no known platform for you to re-sell your investment to other investors.
Will my investments have voting rights?
It is unlikely that you will be offered voting rights, and you should presume that your investment does not include these voting rights unless it is outlined in your investment agreement.
Making an Investment
What types of investments are offered on SVX?
We bring on social and environmental ventures of all types - from early-stage, scaling ventures, to funds that invest directly themselves, to nonprofits offering debt opportunities. Every opportunity is vetted by the SVX team and an issuer review committee with independent members. We review the financials, business model, and team to make sure it's a viable product. Then we share this diligence with our investors. That way, we have deals that investors can get behind, and we take a load off the investor's back in terms of evaluation.
What documentation and information is provided to support my decision making process?
Make sure you are well-informed before you make any investment. On SVX, every issuer has completed a profile including background on the business, organization and/or fund and key documentation such as business plans, financials, pitch decks, term sheets, and subscription agreements. Before you invest, you will be asked to review and sign a subscription agreement or other similar documentation that clearly outlines the terms of the investment. In many cases, you will also be asked to sign a Risk Acknowledgement form.
Is the website secure for investors?
We are very concerned about your security and privacy:
Secure Socket Layer (SSL): Our platform has a 2048 bit Extended Validation (EV) SSL Certificate installed from our preferred provider, which uses the highest level of authentication.
Secured Hosting:We use Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) infrastructure for the security certifications. AWS has obtained including ISO 27001 certification.
Payments: Our payment processing partner, VersaPay, is a national Canadian payment processing and payment systems company with offices in Toronto, Montreal and New York. The company provides electronic transaction processing services to various sizes of businesses (public, private, and government) in both Canada and the United States of America. VersaPay is a PCI Level 1 Compliant payment provider, allowing us to accept payments worry-free with the highest security on the market. You can learn more about their compliance and security systems on their website. Funds are held in escrow using a major financial institution and only released when a campaign is complete and approved by the SVX team SVX
What is the difference between debt and equity?
The basic differences between the debt and equity markets include the type of financial interest they represent, the way in which they generate profits for investors, how they are traded and their respective risk levels. Both debt securities and equity investments have the potential to deliver significant returns. Equity financing often means issuing additional shares of common stock to an investor. With more shares of common stock issued and outstanding, the previous stockholders' percentage of ownership decreases. Debt financing means borrowing money and not giving up ownership.
Do I have to pay a fee to the SVX to see these deals or at the time of investments?
No. Investors are not charged for using the platform. As an investor, your money goes directly to the issuer who is raising money so they can use it as effectively as possible. They pay a small fee to access the platform and a small transaction fee (1-5%) to process every investment that is made on SVX.
How do I apply to invest?
If you are eligible to invest, click on the Invest button on the issuer's profile. Indicate how much you'd like to invest, choose your payment method, then sign the contract. If this is your first investment, we may need to get a bit more background information from you to confirm your eligibility and help you make the investment. Once we have reviewed this information, we will contact you to ask a few questions, to confirm the investment, or to let you know that we cannot process the investment at this time.
How long does it take for you to review my investment?
We will contact you within two (2) business days, unless there are special circumstances. To ensure the funds are available for the investment, out payment gateway will withdraw the amount you've invested and will hold it in trust while we review your eligibility to make the investment. As a regulated platform, we want to make sure you understand the risks, and can afford to make your desired investment. The size of your investment may be reduced to a lower amount or may be rejected, in which case all funds will be returned to your account with no fees.
How do I make a payment for my investment?
All transactions are made through the platform, so money is quickly and easily transferred online. Payments on platform are processed via our payment provider (VersaPay) through an online wire transfer. You will be asked to input your banking information via a secure portal to make your investment. We can also manage offline payments via cheque. The funds are held in escrow (in trust with TD Bank), until the campaign closes.
What is escrow?
Escrow is when an impartial third party holds on to something of value during a transaction. Funds are only transferred to the company once a campaign is closed and if it meets the fundraising target.
How are documents signed?
We want to make this process as simple and easy as possible, so we work to ensure everything is signed electronically. Once you have signed a contract or document, it will be emailed to you in a .pdf or placed on your investor page on SVX.
How much can I invest?
The amount you can invest depends on your investor status and the type of investment. There are a number of important rules and requirements for you to consider, but we have outlined a short summary below. In order to learn more about your ability to invest, please visit our regulations page.
For crowdfunding investments:
- Any investor can invest up to $2,500 per offering and $10,000 (Ontario only) in total in a calendar year
- An accredited investor can invest up to $25,000 per offering and $50,000 (Ontario only) in total in a calendar year.
- Permitted clients do not have any limits.
For Offering Memorandum (OM) investments:
- A retail investor (link) can invest up to $10,000 per offering in a 12 month period
- An eligible investor (link) can invest up to $30,000 per offering in a 12 month period;
- An eligible investor (link) can invest up to $100,000 per offering in a 12 month period if they recieve advice that the particular investment is suitable.
For private placement investments:
- Only accredited investors (link) can access these opportunities. They are not subject to investment limits, but they are subject to KYC and suitability requirements.
When do I get my investment document (eg. the securities)?
Once an investment is successfully executed, you will get an email with your investment contract (eg. shareholder agreement). This will typically take place at the end of the campaign. You may also be able to view this document on your online investor profile.
What if I change my mind about my investment?
Can a company, fund, or SVX cancel my investment?
What happens if a campaign fails to reach its fundraising target?
Does SVX charge a fee to companies and funds for each investment?
Do I have any liability as an investor in a particular company?
How will my investment be used by the companies I invest in through SVX?
Can I make a return on my investment?
The type of return you can make depends on the type of financial product you invest in.
- If your investment is a fixed income product like debt (a loan), the venture will arrange to pay you in regular installments as laid out in the agreement.
- If you make a direct equity investment, the company can return capital in a few different ways. If they are acquired by another company, you can sell your equity shares to make money. Or, if they go public, you can sell your shares on the open market. The company may also decide to pay a dividend to their shareholders. There may be many terms and conditions on the shares you are purchasing so we encourage you to have a lawyer review your investment to ensure you fully understand your rights as an investor.
- If you make a fund investment, your return depends on the performance of the fund and the contract you sign with the partnership.
- And sometimes, you can also sell your investment to other buyers in the private markets.
- Each deal you make will lay out the terms so you can understand the upside and risks. All that said, remember that private markets investment returns are not guaranteed. Click here for a full explanation of the risks of investing in these financial products.
How do I make a return on my investment?
When will I receive a return on my investment?
Will I receive updates from the company?
Can I contact the company directly?
Ventures and Funds
What is the process to sign up?
It's easy! If you're a venture, simply click on the link above to sign-up. We will need to learn about your venture and investment offering through your application. We will be in touch to go over the details of your submission and ensure you know the ins and outs of raising capital. After a review with our Issuer Review Committee, made up of experts and investors, we will process a background check of your directors and senior officers and your offering will be ready to be listed online!
You can see more about the process on our How it Works page or reach out to us at email@example.com
How long does the registration and review process take?
We will guide you through the process of onboarding and review. It can take between a few weeks and a few months to get a campaign set-up, depending on your level of investment readiness. We want to make sure you are ready to go to market and have all the ingredients for success before you start. You can take a look at our criteria below or contact us with more questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How does the SVX support me?
SVX supports impact ventures by helping you: a) Prepare or review offering documents ahead of your raise; b) Raise capital through our network of investors committed to companies that deliver strong financial and social/ environmental return; and c) Complete regulatory obligations to investors and the securities regulatory authority through acquiring and preparing requisite forms and documentation via the SVX platform. We hope to help and reduce costs of reporting and legal obligations for issuers throughout the lifetime of an investment.
What other services do you offer for ventures?
In addition to our online platform, we can provide off-line programming for selected impact ventures to help build their business and offering. On a regular basis, we offer an SVX Pre-Flight Bootcamp for potential issuers. Check our website and social media regularly for new program topics and calls for applications.
What features of the SVX website will help me market my opportunity?
Our platform offers a number of ways to support your capital raise and manage investors. Here is just a taste of what you'll get if you register:
- Video and picture integration
- Real-time project progress bar
- Track received funds
- Track investor information
- Automatic notifications
- Campaign email updates
- Customizable automated email confirmations
- Email and online support
- Document management system (quarterly filings, compliance filings)
- Investment photo gallery
- Investment capital stack (capital structure)
- Investment offering and documentation
- Management team bios and experience
- Investment updates
This isn't all. You also get the support of the SVX team actively working to share your offering with the SVX Investor Community! To get started and see everything the platform has to offer, click on sign-up above.
How much does it cost to use SVX?
Our mission is to increase access to capital for impact ventures, funds and organizations at a reasonable cost. Our fee schedule is as follows:
- Review and Set-up Fee: Ventures pay an up-front fee of $2,500 to cover our review and support costs to get on the platform, including background checks and due diligence.
- Transaction Fee: Once on the platform, ventures pay a transaction fee to process every investment that is made on SVX. The fee 5% for transactions below $10,000 and 2% for transactions above that level. We will consider lower transaction fees for larger investment campaigns.
How do I know whether I am a fit for SVX?
It is important for you to meet both our platform and industry standards. There are a number of industry requirements of investment offering exemptions by securities regulators in Canada. You can read more about those requirements in our rules and regulations in the footer below. Our platform standards are simple. We work with companies at a variety of stages, from start-up to growth to scale, and we look for the following:
- Sector Alignment: Clean technology, work and learning, health and wellness, food, and social inclusion.
- Incorporated: Canadian incorporated for-profit or not for-profit (includes co-operatives).
- Operating History: Minimum one (1) year operating history.
- Market Traction: Existing revenue, customers, and/or investment.
- Business Plan: Business plan that demonstrates understanding of long-term finances, operations, and strategy
- Impact: Ventures must be a B Corp or reach 80 on the B Impact Assessment and provide five (5) key impact metrics
- Team: Full time team member(s) with evidence of relevant expertise on leadership team
- Coachability: Management is coachable and responsive to feedback
- Scalability: Potential for deep local or national/global scale
- Sustainability: Entity and investment are sustainable with reasonable profitability
- We will also ask you for important documents including financial statements, articles of incorporation, a term sheet, background check forms, and business references
What fundraising exemptions can you use on SVX?
What kind of issuers can use SVX?
We are sector agnostic. We work with for-profits and non-profits, including co-operatives.
What are the geographic requirements for SVX issuers?
Unfortunately at this time we're only able to service Canadian-based companies based in Ontario and Québec. But we will be registered very soon in other Canadian provinces. However, we're delighted to have partners in the US and Mexico who can help you if you're based there. Please contact us for more details at email@example.com
What kinds of securities can I offer?
What kinds of securities can I offer?
Do you have any template investment contracts?
Funny you should ask. We do. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can provide you with a bit of guidance and a few examples that we hope will help.
Do investors have voting rights?
What is the minimum and maximum I can raise?
The minimum you can raise on the platform is $100,000. The maximum raise is dependent on the type of investors and exemption that you are using for your offering. For a crowdfunding campaign, you can raise a maximum of $1.5 million per calendar year. There is no maximum raise for an Offering Memorandum or a private placement campaign for accredited investors. Companies on the platform are typically raising between $250,000 - $5 million, and we have funds and organizations raising over $50 million. Please read our Regulations sections for more information.
Can I complete my entire raise on the platform?
How do I receive an investment?
Is there a time limit on my investment offering?
Why should I raise capital here instead of raising capital by myself?
What information and documentation is shared with investors on the platform?
We will help you compile and prepare your materials to help you meet regulatory standards and to help investors with sufficient information for effective decision-making. And we have templates to guide you along the way. For a handy reference, we have provided a brief list below of what you will need to provide for each of the offerings on platform.
- You are required to provide investors with an Offering Document including the following information:
- Warning: Issuers are required to offer a warning to purchasers that states: "No securities regulatory authority or regulator has assessed, reviewed or approved the merits of these securities or reviewed this crowdfunding offering document. Any representation to the contrary is an offence. This is a risky investment.
- Business and Contact Information
- Business Overview
- Management Team
- Details on the Raise: How much are you raising and at what valuation?
- Detailed Business Description: Stage of business, product/service description, business objectives, relationships, risks, financial information, connected issuers, and management compensation.
- Funding portal: Contact details of the funding portal. That's us!
- Rights: A statement of rights as a reporting or non-reporting issuer.
- Other relevant information: State any other facts that would likely be important to a purchaser purchasing securities under this crowdfunding offering document.
- Documents: Reporting issuers need to provide a disclosure statement and provide a list of documents they have included.
- Certificate: Ventures need to provide a certification statement
- For reporting issuers: "This crowdfunding offering document does not contain a misrepresentation. Purchasers of securities have a right of action in the case of a misrepresentation.
- For non-reporting issuers: "This crowdfunding offering document does not contain an untrue statement of a material fact. Purchasers of securities have a right of action in the case of an untrue statement of a material fact.
- If this crowdfunding offering document is signed electronically, include the following statement for each individual certifying the document, in bold type: "I acknowledge that I am signing this crowdfunding offering document electronically and agree that this is the legal equivalent of my handwritten signature. I will not at any time in the future claim that my electronic signature is not legally binding.
- Financial Statements. You need to provide financial statements to investors as an appendix to your Offering Document, with the following conditions:
- Reporting issuers need to provide the most recent annual financial statements the issuer has filed with the securities regulatory authority or regulator, and the most recent interim financial report the issuer has filed with the securities regulatory authority or regulator.
Non-reporting issuers must provide:
- financial statements that have been audited or reviewed by a public accounting firm if the cumulative amount an issuer has raised under prospectus exemptions since its formation is $250,000 or more but is less than $750,000, or
- financial statements that have been audited if the cumulative amount an issuer has raised under prospectus exemptions since its formation is $750,000 or more.
You are required to provide investors with an Offering Document including the following information:
- Use of Available Funds (as set out in tables in form);
- Description of Business (no more than 2-15 pages);
- Interests of Directors, Management, Promoters and Principal Holders (as set out in tables in form);
- Capital Structure (as set out in tables in form);
- Securities Offered (very basic description required);
- Income Tax Consequences and RRSP Eligibility (simplified disclosure other than for flow-through shares or special income tax vehicle securities);
- Compensation Paid to Sellers and Finders (basic disclosure – cannot pay finder’s fee in Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Saskatchewan and Yukon);
- Risk Factors (no more than 2 pages);
- Reporting Obligations (very basic description required);
- Resale Restrictions (text required as set out in section);
- Purchasers’ Rights (2 day cancellation right as set out in section and statutory and contractual right of action disclosure as required by each province securities are offered);
- Financial Statements (audited annual*; unaudited interim);
- Date and Certificate (certificate as of date of offering memorandum stating no misrepresentation in document); and
- Risk Acknowledgement Form (to be signed by all investors).
What if my campaign fails to reach its target?
How do I close my campaign?
Can you help me manage my cap table for investors on platform and investors I have secured on my own?
Can I extend my campaign period?
What are the limits on advertising and promoting my capital raise campaign?
How much work do I have to do to promote my campaign?
We will work really hard to help you raise capital. But simply putting an offering on a website and waiting for the money to roll in won't get your campaign across the line. Your job will be to bring your community on board, and to combine it with our networks.
How long does it take to get my campaign funds?
How often do I need to provide investor updates?
Do I need to file an annual report?
Yes. Under the crowdfunding exemption you have to file annual financial statements with your investors and notify them about how you use the funds. This can be done on our platform by completing a "Use of Proceeds" Form. Under the OM exemptions, the same form is to be filed as well as annual financial statements within four (4) months of your year end. For the AI exemption, an annual report does not need to be filed. Our Issuer Agreement has a list of the various reporting requirements.