Invest MS logo

Frequently Asked
Questions (FAQs)

Prior to submitting a funding application, carefully review the following FAQs.

General Questions

InvestMS and Innovate Mississippi are related through the SSBCI program of the US Department of the Treasury.  Mississippi will be provided $86M in federal funding, making InvestMS possible. It’s a $26M equity program administered by Innovate Mississippi.

We’re always on the lookout for new applications and we review them regularly. You can apply anytime without worrying about a fixed deadline.

We will evaluate applications against InvestMS guidelines set by Mississippi and US Treasury. In addition to evaluating the company’s viability, we assess its industry focus, proof points, team expertise, and go-to-market strategy.

If we find that your intake aligns with our program, we will reach out to you to schedule a call or meeting. On the other hand, if we determine that your intake is not a good fit for our program, we will send you an email to let you know and guide you to other resources.

The State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), which has been expanded and reauthorized through the American Rescue Plan Act, will be provided with $10 billion by the US Treasury. This fund will help small businesses to access the capital they need to invest in job-creating opportunities. The initiative will provide financial support to states, the District of Columbia, territories, and Tribal governments to promote American entrepreneurship, support small business ownership, and democratize access to capital across the country, including in underserved communities. For more information about the program, including detailed guidelines and requirements, please visit the SSBCI website.

InvestMS capital will be invested into Mississippi-located businesses, defined as a business that is registered to do business in Mississippi  with the Mississippi Secretary of State and (1) Headquartered or (2) Majority of C-Suite employees in Mississippi or (3) Majority of employees in Mississippi or (4) Majority of growth from this investment in MS. A company’s street address is required in their application. Companies receiving capital from InvestMS must remain located in Mississippi for 24 months after receiving funds.

All InvestMS portfolio companies and funds, which includes the portfolio company recipients of SSBCI capital from those funds, must participate in both quarterly and annual reporting requirements. Innovate Mississippi will collect this data and submit it to MDA, who will, in turn, submit the data to the U.S. Department of the Treasury by stated deadlines.

As a condition of receiving SSBCI funds, all investees must provide access to their books and records to the Treasury Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office. This includes detailed loan and investment records, subject to applicable privacy laws such as 12 U.S.C. § 3401 et seq.

Mississippi and all other participating states, received an initial SSBCI allocation from the US Treasury. We must meet programmatic requirements and invest a minimum of 66% in SEDI-owned businesses. More information on Socially and economically disadvantaged individuals (SEDI) can be found on the SSBCI website.

‘SEDI’ refers to Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Individuals. A portion of SSBCI capital will be invested into SEDI Owned and Controlled businesses meaning at least 51 percent of the business is owned and controlled by SEDI individuals meeting one or more definitions from the following criteria:

  1. CDFI Investment Areas: Individuals whose residences and/or business address are located in CDFI investment areas, or the business will operate a future location in a CDFI investment area. 
  2. USDA Rural Business Areas: Individuals whose residences and/or business address are located in USDA Rural Business areas, or the business will operate a future location in a USDA Rural Business area. Select Rural Business then Rural Community Development Initiative and accept to search address.
  3. Additional SEDI Definitions: Individuals who have had their access to credit on reasonable terms diminished as compared to others in comparable economic circumstances, due to their:
    1. Membership of a group that has been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias within American society, such as Black, Latino, and Indigenous and Native American persons; Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other persons of color; members of religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) persons
    2. Gender
    3. Veteran status
    4. Limited English proficiency
    5. Disability
    6. Long-term residence in an environment isolated from the mainstream of American society
    7. Membership of a federally or state-recognized Indian Tribe
    8. Long-term residence in a rural community
    9. Residence in a U.S. territory
    10. Residence in a community undergoing economic transitions (including communities impacted by the shift towards a net-zero economy or deindustrialization)
    11. Membership of another underserved community, such as persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality

In order for a company to receive investment from InvestMS, the company must sign a certification verifying their compliance with the conflict of interest standards set forth in Section VIII.f of the SSBCI Capital Program Policy Guidelines (starting on page 31).

To briefly explain, these standards state that no SSBCI insider, or any family member or business partner of an SSBCI insider, can have a personal financial interest in the investee unless an exception specified in Section VIII.f of the SSBCI Capital Program Policy Guidelines applies. The terms “SSBCI insider,” “family member,” “business partner,” and “personal financial interest” are defined in Section VIII.f of the SSBCI Capital Program Policy Guidelines.

An SSBCI Insider may co-invest alongside SSBCI capital into new investments, provided that the Insider does not have a pre-existing financial interest in the company. However, SSBCI capital will not be available for follow-on investment consideration following this initial investment.

As part of the application process, InvestMS will request the company’s latest capitalization table to compare the list of all investors against the State of Mississippi’s list of SSBCI Insiders. If an SSBCI Insider is listed on the company’s cap table, the company will be ineligible for investment.

InvestMS for Startups

Please complete our Intake Form before applying for the InvestMS Fund or Seed Fund.  Our investment team will be in touch to guide you through the process, which can take a few weeks to several months depending on various factors.

  • Eligible companies are those with scalable business models located in Mississippi and suitable for venture funding. Our focus is on investing in great companies that have business models designed to generate strong returns for our fund. 
  • On the other hand, we consider companies involved in speculative activities like oil or stock trading, those earning over half their revenue from lending activities, pyramid sales, activities prohibited by federal law (such as cannabis/marijuana), and gaming/gambling activities as ineligible for investment.

The InvestMS Investment Committee holds monthly meetings where startups present live pitches with an introduction from their lead investor. The committee votes on investment opportunities.

All approved investments must pass legal diligence, including certification for SSBCI program. Sample certifications are available for Use of Proceeds, Conflict of Interest, Sex Offender, and SEDI-Owned Businesses (as applicable).

At InvestMS, we have the right to decline any investment opportunity at any stage of our process. You will receive an email notification of our decision, along with any feedback that is immediately available. Due to the high number of applications we receive, we may not be able to provide personal feedback calls or meetings. However, if you are an eligible company or venture capital fund, you may have the option to reapply for funding at a later date. If your application is declined, you can still receive technical assistance through Innovate’s Development Team and Mississippi’s SBDC’s TA Assistance Program.

InvestMS does not lead investments. However, we collaborate with the company’s CEO and founders to help them understand the terms for the investment round. If the company has already set the terms for their investment round, InvestMS will evaluate these terms and consider them in the investment decision made by the Investment Committee. Our objective is to generate a return on InvestMS capital investment and to position the company for success in the future from an equity ownership perspective.

InvestMS cannot lead investments. However, it can match investments up to 1:1 from its $11M Direct Fund, which can make initial equity investments ranging from $50k to $1M into early-stage, pre-seed, and seed startups.

A 1:1 private capital match with InvestMS can be satisfied by angel investors or angel groups who provide investment capital on the same terms.

Proceeds will only be used for legitimate business purposes, and not for any prohibited activities such as repayment of outstanding taxes, repayment of taxes held in trust or escrow, or purchasing ownership interests of any owner. Additionally, the capital cannot be invested in companies engaged in speculative activities, generating over 50% of annual net revenue from lending activities, conducting pyramid sales, conducting activities prohibited by federal law (including those related to cannabis), and deriving over one-third of gross annual revenue from legal gambling activities.

InvestMS investment applications require matching private capital on at least a 1:1 basis. The minimum match requirement is not negotiable. Competitive applicants will have a committed lead investor, who will be expected to participate in certain portions of the application and evaluation process. If you currently lack matching private capital, our development team will help you assess your funding options under other non-SSBCI programs offered through Innovate Mississippi.

 

The 1:1 private capital match requirement is assessed on a per-transaction basis. Matching private investments cannot be made on more favorable terms than the terms of InvestMS’s investment. Debt and grant financing, Mississippi Seed Fund awards, and funding or personal capital provided by the founder(s), among other ineligible investments and funding sources, do not qualify as private capital and cannot be used to meet the private match requirement. Private capital investments received within 90 days prior to the closing of InvestMS’s investment may, in some circumstances, be eligible to count toward the 1:1 private equity match when Treasury and state guidelines are met. Capital invested more than 90 days before the closing of InvestMS’s investment will not count toward the 1:1 private capital match under any circumstances.

InvestMS for Venture Capital Funds

A venture capital fund is a fund that meets the SEC’s definition of a venture capital fund, as shown here. Other types of funds will not be considered for investment at this time.

InvestMS is interested in investing in the first closing of a new early-stage venture capital fund. The match investment will be up to $5M in the target fund. Mississippi-based funds or funds focused on Mississippi are encouraged to apply for the InvestMS Fund investment. If you are selected to recieve a Fund match, you must invest the committed capital in accordance with the SSBCI program guidelines. Also, note that you have the option to invest in a sidecar fund.

You will submit a completed RFP application. The entire process, from application to investment decision and legal review, takes several months at minimum. We will run a fair and transparent selection process for investment recipients and meet with all potentially eligible venture capital funds in the state.

The application process for the InvestMS RFP will open in the upcoming weeks. To keep yourself updated on the latest InvestMS Fund news, sign up for our weekly Friday Update emails here. The RFP application will remain open for six weeks, during which communication with the Innovate Team will be restricted.

Capital commitments require approval from InvestMS Investment Committee, which meets monthly.

As per SSBCI program guidelines, a standard management fee is not included in our capital commitment.

InvestMS capital does not cover the standard fund formation costs as per the guidelines of SSBCI program.

As part of the InvestMS program, a fee of 1.71% on average can be charged quarterly for portfolio company services. This Service fee will cover expenses related to financial management, IT consulting, operational guidance, and connecting these companies to potential customers, investors, board members, and officers. If a company receives funding from multiple funds, they must identify the services they need and certify annually that they received them. The agreement between the Fund and their SSBCI portfolio companies must disclose that the Fund has offered services, and this information must be reported to MDA in annual reports.

The 1:1 private capital match must be met at the fund level with non-public investment equal to or greater than the SSBCI investment.

Please note that according to the SSBCI program guidelines, businesses must be certified regarding their “Use of Proceeds” at the time of InvestMS’s investment. It is important to keep in mind that funds obtained from the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) can only be used for specific business purposes. For additional details, please review the SSBCI sample certifications.

When investing SSBCI capital, InvestMS Fund recipients must follow all SSBCI program guidelines, complete required certifications, have a 1:1 private capital match, and collect demographic data. InvestMS will assist with contractual language to ensure programmatic requirements are met and enforced.

A sidecar fund may qualify for SSBCI-supported investment under the Capital Program Policy Guidelines as a main fund if it meets SSBCI program requirements.

InvestMS adheres to the SSBCI 2.0 program guidelines set by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, which do not allow the investment of SSBCI capital into portfolio companies where there is an existing financial interest. Therefore, the capital commitment made by InvestMS into newly formed funds can only be used to invest in new companies and not in any existing portfolio companies.

Stay updated on SSBCI by signing up here.

Are you a startup or VC fund in Mississippi? Let’s connect.