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Lauren Simmons is in the business of shattering glass ceilings and helping companies raise capital in untraditional ways. At just 27 years old, she’s already made waves as the youngest and only current female full-time trader on Wall Street and only the second black woman to ever trade on the bustling equity trading floor. She’s now the host of Going Public, a new interactive docuseries that lets viewers click to invest in featured companies while they watch in real time. This first-of-its-kind show features companies who, through the use of Regulation A, allow everyday investors to get in on the ground floor of investing in growth-stage companies, in an approachable way typically reserved for institutional investors and venture capitalists. The show will premiere on Entrepreneur.com on October 19th.
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When Simmons received her 2016 Kennesaw State University degree in Genetics, Simmons didn’t let not having a traditional finance background hold her back from finding her direction in life. After moving from her Georgia hometown to New York City post-graduation, she began working with Richard Rosenblatt, CEO of Rosenblatt Securities, who thought it prudent to take a chance on a young woman willing to dive into new horizons with drive, gumption and heart. Although it was reported she made only $12,000 that year on the trading floor, she made history nonetheless and picked up an endearing moniker along the way: The Wolfette of Wall Street. Her rise to the public sphere was widely recognized; by 2018, Simmons was named to Ebony‘s Power 100 list, and was also awarded to the 2018 Women of Impact list by Politico.
But much like her career to-date, Simmons is challenging investing norms yet again with her new role as Going Public’s host. No longer subscribing to traditional rules in order to drive financing to cutting-edge companies on the path to IPO, the new series uses an investment pathway called Regulation A+ (Reg A+). Reg A+ is a securities registration exemption that allows companies to raise up to $75 million in capital outside of traditional public offerings, market their deal broadly, and it also allows anyone over the age of 18 anywhere in the world to legally invest. Reg A+ was designed to democratize access to capital for emerging businesses and level the playing field for retail investors, something Simmons supports wholeheartedly.
Image credit: Going Public
Mentorship is a key element of Going Public’s first season, as Simmons knows having a strong mentor is crucial to success in finance. She credits her hunger for information and the connections she has made for her success in her early days on the NYSE. She studied to pass the tests necessary to work on the trading floor to prove to others she could handle the work. Also to show her hard-working, single mother back in Georgia what she was made of and to make her proud. As Simmons told Bazaar in 2019, “Had I not advocated for myself, I think I would have been just another woman on the trading floor.” The upcoming investing docuseries also features mentors who provide valuable business feedback, advice, and at times, tough love to the company leadership looking to scale their companies and gain Reg A+ financing.
Each mentor on Going Public has a strong handle on the ins and outs of retail investing, as well as what it takes to stay strong and keep fighting for your dream. Notably, Simmons mentions that all of her mentors so far in life have been men — she’s yet to have a woman mentor and is looking forward to being a strong female role model as the host of the show for others interested in finance.
Another element of retail investing that calls to Simmons is that by nature, it’s a system blind to demographic aspects like race, gender and location. Underrepresented groups in the financial world are typically women and people of color. As she puts it, “It truly provides a level playing field for the everyday citizen to potentially improve their financial situation by getting in on the ground floor investing with companies whose values and mission they believe in.”
The Going Public series highlights how alternative capital raising tools such as the Reg A+, paired with the power of the internet, are allowing founders to access the capital needed to hire more people, create new jobs, and scale their businesses. Previously, raising the type of capital these businesses are looking for required public listings or powerful venture capitalists who may seek greater amounts of equity than what may be required in a Reg A+. Now, through the power of retail investors, these founders have a new path. As the financial world saw earlier this year with shake-ups like Gamestop, retail investing has the legs to disrupt the entire financial landscape and allows everyday investors the opportunity to make serious money.
About Going Public: Season 1
For the first time ever, viewers around the world will have the opportunity to invest in five featured companies at the Regulation A+ price. The series will allow viewers to click-to-invest right on screen, creating an interactive viewing experience and unique investing opportunity. Existing customers and new fans can now invest in the companies they believe in alongside traditional institutional investors as the series unfolds.
Over the course of the show, the leadership of featured companies will share their vision, mission, product offerings and values. Viewers will gain access to behind-the-scenes footage as founders are exposed to guidance from notable mentors along the way, and then watch with anticipation to see how the journey unfolds by the end of season 1.
Watch Going Public starting on October 19th right here on Entrepreneur.com.
In addition to hosting Season 1 of Going Public, this year Lauren Simmons is working on releasing an upcoming book about personal finance and a new exclusive podcast on Spotify.