DSTLD IPO shows crowd funding does not work for individual investors

A few years ago I had discovered crowd funding, individual investors could get access into early stage companies. Some of them would perish, some would grow slowly and some would IPO. The strategy was to sprinkle your investments so overall you may come ahead.

This year finally something miraculous happened, one of the companies that I had invested in IPO’ed. DSTLD or Digital Brands Group finally IPO’ed. To call the whole thing a shitshow would be an understatement. The reddit thread here captures most of the new action but I will try to summarize my understanding of the situation, why investors lost out and what changes I am making to my portfolio. Spoiler alert: I made no money (atleast for now)


The company Digital Brand Group used incentives to drive up individual investors investing in their company(offering store credit in exchange for investment). I infact invested twice in the company, once via SeedInvest and once via Startengine. Apart from those two platforms, from the thread it seems apparent that the company also did a convertible note via a site called WeFunder which I have never used (Thank God).

A few things happened with the IPO. The IPO seems to have completed earlier this month but most crowdfunding investors don’t even have access to their shares. Not that it matters, the company although has increased its value has reverse split the stock making a loss for each one of its individual investors. I don’t have access to my stocks yet(cue shitshow, however the CEO Hil Davis made a mockery of the early investors by sending an email as late as November with the following quote(I got this letter from reddit, but multiple sources have confirmed this is true):

“In Closing The original founders, Corey Epstein and Mark Lynn launched the first Reg A+ because they believed that the individual investor should make money early on in great companies, not just the Private Equity and Venture Capitalist firms. This offer shows everyone how much we continue to believe in this direction.”

It is super ironical because each individual early investor stands to lose money at this time if they liquidate. There is no guarantee on when(and if) they will make money. Its possible in the future one may be able to turn a profit, however at this time the company has been caught vastly unaware and no individual crowdfunding investor has access to the stock they had bought. The platforms of Startengine, WeFunder and SeedInvest are all blaming the company and the company blames them. The loser is the investor who trusted their money to this company. As of writing this post none of the three platforms seem to have gotten their shit together and Vstock which is supposed to handle the transfer of stock has not responded to my emails.

My future investments in crowd funding

Overall I have invested in over a half a dozen pre-IPO companies via crowd funding. Another shitshow is Trubrain in which I had invested also via Startengine. The company is now doing another round of crowdfunding more than a year later at the same valuation. While claiming the company is doing great, they basically told every investor who had invested early that their money has gained no value. The company is defending against criticism in their latest offering. I think the criticism is fair and the company has just showed a good old fashioned middle finger to its investors.

Similarly, most other investments via StartEngine have been shitshows. Startengine also invests in the companies themselves but post closing of investments provide zero support to companies and/or investors. Another company I had invested in ‘Glow Beverages’ struggled to get terms of its convertible note updated via startengine. The CEO of the company told me he had no luck escalating to StartEngine’s CEO for help. Eventually they had to circumvent start engine to modify their note.

My experience with start engine support has been equally bad. The support is mostly useless and responds with irrelevant things when asked questions about investments.

Between Kickfurther(don’t touch with a 20000ft pole) and Startengine type crowdfunding campaigns i have lost money almost everywhere, the only diamond in the rough for me has been TerraCycle which increased its dividend this year and seems to be a pretty solid company. I feel like that is one company that may end up helping me break even or even come out ahead. I also made some money in TelaDoc which was from a platform that eventually shut down.

My future investments however will never touch Kickfurther or Startengine and I would recommend you to do the same. As is clear from the post, I am invested in a number of companies via these platforms. For the time being, I am exploring complaining to SEC and FINRA for the shitshow that has ensued. While institutional investors are able to sell the stock, investors like me are struggling to get custody of our investments.

How I got an overflow COVID vaccine in Washington State!

I am in my early 30s but was able to get a Moderna vaccine in Washington. How you may ask?

Vaccine Card from CDC




Its simple, the logistics around the current vaccines mean that pharmacists have a tough choice to make at the end of the end, either dump the vaccines or give them to any available arms.

There is a new group of hackers looking to get their hands on these vaccines. Facebook groups now exist where people hunt for waste vaccines, get on waiting lists and talk to pharmacies to see if they can get a vaccine that was going to be thrown away.

Here is how I did it, I scoured mass vaccination site announcements on the web. I would ignore the ones close to urban areas for two reasons. Urban people are more savvy about these things so you have more competition and in general counties near urban areas have been more snobbish about eligibility even though it may mean not saving the vaccines. Now needless to say, I dont have any data to prove this.

I found a few semi rural vaccine sites near the Seattle area namely in Auburn. I am happy to report on my first try, I got the vaccine.

I reached a couple of hours before the vaccination center would close and asked for leftover doses. I was redirected to a waiting area wherein we had around 30-40 cars waiting already. As the site was closing, they redirected everyone into the center. Turns out it was our lucky day and they had hundreds of doses left that day.

I was able to get the Moderna shot and they even scheduled the second shot for me. For a few hours of driving and waiting, I got a vaccine and a sore arm 😀

I would like to warn that YMMV, I have shared this store with many friends. While many of them were able to replicate my success, some of them were not. It all depends on when you show up, how the appointments are going that day and the demographics of the people waiting with you.

When the waiting line is cleared, the volunteers generally go in decreasing order of age. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns about this process.

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Beware of Misleading Certificate of Existence Letter for new WA State LLCs

There is a scam happening in WA state where new LLCs and businesses are being targeted. So much so that the WA Secretary of State has a warning for it.

If you have recently created a LLC in the state of Washington, its likely you would have received a notice in your mail to get a certificate of existence. The letter looks super official, so much so that my friend who received it thought it was a Government notice. The certificate is sent by

WA Certificate Service, 1420 Marvin Road NE, Suite C – #348, Lacer, WA 98516. I am attaching a copy of the notice you receive in the mail with the fake deadline as well.

The notice from WA Certificate Service is very official looking but demands $82.50 for this service. This certificate is routinely available for only $20 from the state and is needed only in limited circumstances.

My friend was super confused about this extra fee and a little bit of research guided me to the page here on the secretary of state’s page. It seems like this company is scraping new business data and then sending them this letter which almost looks like a demand letter asking to pay $82.50. It has a deadline just to make it look like its a fee that must be paid. It is likely thousands of people are falling victim to this notice thinking its another required fee to be paid.

The notice on the SoS site states:

If you receive one of these letters for a Certificate of Status order, please do your research. If you have any questions about ordering an actual Certificate of Existence feel free to contact our office at 360-725-0377, by email corps@sos.wa.gov, or by visiting the contact us link from our website www.sos.wa.gov/corps

If you received this notice, we recommend you trash it and report it to the SoS.

Sony Bravia Android TV YouTube app stuck or frozen? Try this!

I faced this issue twice.

When I would play a YouTube video it just pauses and hangs. it’s on my 2020 Sony Bravia TV which runs on Android TV.

I tried resetting my WiFi and resetting the Youtube app. Both didn’t work. When you turn the tv off and on it doesn’t really reset the TV. So there is some magic sauce to actually resetting the TV.

Watch the video below to learn how to soft reset your TV to fix the youtube app freezing issue.

Do let me know if this did not fix your issue.

Wisetechie’s Top Five Tips to Save on Car Insurance

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sT59UzMBslg

Just made a video around tips to save on car insurance and how to ensure you are always paying your best rate.

Here are the tips from the video summarized:

  • Tip 1 – Go out and Quote!!! – Quote every 3 months, no such thing as over quoting. Insurance companies will return back pro-rated refunds to you.
  • Tip 2 – Insurance Brokers – If insurance seems too much of a hassle use insurance brokers and ask them to shop around for you.
  • Tip 3 – Credit Reports and Car Insurance – Your credit report not only affects the credit cards you can get and your mortgage rate but also your insurance rate. Keep credit utilization low and available credit high.
  • Tip 4 – Review your coverage – Do you really need personal injury protection if you have medical insurance, do you really need uninsured property damage if you have comprehensive coverage?
  • Tip 5 – Claims and your rate – Be very careful about claims and what might be considered a claim. Some companies will tout free roadside assistance but then ding you for using it (Allstate which offers Tmobile SyncUp device roadside assistance did that).
  • Bonus Tip – Bundle!!! – Almost all insurance companies will allow you to bundle your rates. Use it. I bundle my car insurance, rental insurance and umbrella from the same company for maximum savings.

Hopefully you found these tips useful. Dont forget to checkout my video, like, share, comment and subscribe!