Legion M is one of the first companies to ever launch an equity crowdfunding campaign. Since its humble beginnings, the company has raised tens of millions and boasts one of the largest investor bases in the industry at over 45,000 investors. The company continues to be a pioneer within the equity crowdfunding space. Recently, the innovative fan-owned startup launched a "fan-first financing" model, which allows the Legion M community to help finance and own a stake in Legion M films.
Under this model, investors are paid back 120% of their investment first before Legion M starts making money. Once investors are repaid, investors also own 50% of the backend. Currently, Legion M is raising $1 million for the film under their fan-first financing model. The film's director is Kyle Hausmann-Stokes, a bronze-star veteran who served as a convoy commander in Iraq.
My Dead Friend Zoe
The most recent project launched by Legion M under this financing model is "My Dead Friend Zoe". The film has landed the likes of Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris and Sonequa Martin-Green from "The Walking Dead". But what I find personally intriguing is the director, Kyle Hausmann-Stokes is a bronze-star veteran.
I have been serving in the U.S. Army for over nine years now, so I love supporting veteran-based projects like this. For the past several years, I have also been a writer within the equity crowdfunding space, and I am incredibly passionate about equity crowdfunding. That is what drove me to make my first investment in Legion M. I had invested in 30+ other companies prior to investing in Legion M, but I have been a believer since discovering the company.
My Dead Friend Zoe combines the best of both worlds.
I often emphasize the importance of the subjective factors of startup investing. For example, there are many skeptics behind Legion M, and many criticisms are fair. It's an early-stage startup, so it's not hard to find flaws in the company. The company isn't a bad investment by any means, even based on objective criteria. Within Hubtas, Legion M scores in the top ~20% of all startups on the platform. But even if it was in the bottom 20%, I'd still invest because I believe in their goals, visions and the founders of the company. After all, when you're investing in startups, you're investing in people.
The same holds true for this film.
Based on various estimates, veterans make up between 10%-20% of the entire homeless population. There are two sides to this. On the one hand, veterans often leave the service partially disabled or might have substance abuse issues associated with PTSD or other issues.
The other side is just a poor transition to civilian life, and lack of applicable job experience. After all, there are very few options in which firing missiles and being infantry translate to a civilian job. Even finance only really translates to finance jobs within the government.
"Thank you for your service, but..." a line I heard all too often when applying for jobs due to a lack of directly applicable experience from my military background. During college, I was jumping out of airplanes and training with the Bulgarian military... which doesn't help you much to land a job at a marketing agency or in a law or accounting firm.
This leads many veterans to also start their own businesses. The SBA estimates that veterans are 45% more likely to start their own business than the average American. Startups often fail, so maybe there's a correlation between the two? Fortunately, these businesses often have a community happily willing to invest their time and money into veteran-backed businesses and I am no different. I guess this is true for myself as well, as I am the co-founder of Hubtas.com and started several of my own businesses and ventures over the years.
Many have heard of the camaraderie associated with being a veteran. You can often meet another veteran for the first time and feel like you have known them for years. You develop some of the closest relationships with your unit of anyone in your life. In many instances, this isn't by choice. As I write this, I am sitting in a bay on a bunk bed with 60 other people. It would almost be difficult not to get close with them.
That feeling is universal across all veterans in their careers, so it's often shared across the entire military. Even between branches, Army soldiers might poke fun at the Navy, but happily turn to their defense if needed. As I write this, I am currently overseas, traveling to bases with thousands of people, many with careers outside of being a soldier. It's not hard to imagine how taking a 9-month hiatus might affect one's promotion and career prospects on the non-military side of things.
Most of the experiences are unpleasant, but most of the people are amazing, and like I said, investing in startups is investing in people. That's why I'm investing in "My Dead Friend Zoe".