Deals

TC50: Sprowtt automates early IPOs for startups

Entrepreneurs and venture capitalists complain frequently that few companies can have initial public offerings (IPOs) anymore, because the legal difficulties and compliance costs are so high. A startup called Sprowtt says many more companies will now be able to sell shares to the public, and to do so much earlier in their life, because its websites automates the process. The company launched today at the TechCrunch50 conference in San Francisco.

On the Sprowtt site, companies enter requested information and upload their businesses plans. This is the hard part to believe: Sprowtt says they’ll handle all the legal details. Sprowtt says it developed its product with two law firms, though it’s not saying which ones.

Sprowtt users can then log onto the site and buy shares in the company of their choice, which they can then sell. In a way, the company is pitching itself as an alternate NASDAQ. Shares can be bought and sold, though Sprowtt hasn’t created an exchange for those transactions to happen yet.

To be clear, these aren’t traditional IPOs. Since companies are selling shares earlier on, they’ll probably make less money. This is more like an alternative or complement to traditional venture funding. There are other companies trying to offer startups additional ways to achieve liquidity (i.e., sell their shares), such as SecondMarket. So far, though, startup founders still dream of ringing the bell on Wall Street.

Click here for more startup news coming out of the TechCrunch50 conference.