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The Evolution of "Testing the Waters" in Online Startup Investing

How often TTWs become live campaigns, how much they raise, and more


The SEC's introduction of "Testing the Waters" (TTW) for Reg CF in 2021 revolutionized how startups gauged potential investor interest. But has it lived up to the hype? Dive into our comprehensive analysis that tracks the journey of TTW campaigns from their inception to today. Uncover the successes, the challenges, and the essential takeaways every investor needs to know:

  • Since 2020, 93% of startups using TTW that raised at least $25k successfully transitioned to a full-fledged fundraising round.

  • Of those that launched a live fundraising round after testing the waters, 87% successfully raised at least their minimum target.

  • Over $134 million reservations have been made in TTW campaigns since 2020. The top 3 TTW campaigns alone made up an astonishing 69% of this total.

  • 2021 saw the highest number of successful TTW campaigns, totaling 58. That number has declined to less than a dozen since the start of 2022


OPEN is an indexing and fund management company backed by the New York Stock Exchange. They are creating best-in-class private market indices and associated fund products to replicate them.

OPEN’s first fund, the OPEN Unicorn Index Fund (UIF), LP, aims to capture the space's current price dislocation opportunity. The UIF is a secondaries fund that tracks OPEN’s overlying index of the 50 largest venture capital-backed US private companies, including names like SpaceX, Stripe, Fanatics, etc., in a single, diversified basket.

Recent price dislocation in the secondaries market for these unicorns (48.5% on average across the Index) has presented a timely investment opportunity.

More recently, IPOs of previous OPEN Unicorn Index constituents, Instacart and Klaviyo, show early signs of IPO market recovery heading into 2024.

Invest in the future of innovation with the Unicorn Index Fund.


Brief: Advancing Eco Agriculture (AEA) offers regenerative farming solutions, enhancing crop resilience and profit. AEA provides organic fertilizers, consulting, and an AI tool for crop nutrient analysis. Serving over 10,000 growers and boasting a manufacturing facility, AEA has secured backing from VC firms and raised over $4 million. It’s currently raising $2,499,973 at a valuation of $33.7M with a minimum investment of $100.

Key People: Founder and Chief Vision Officer John Kempf. Kempf has an impressive 26 years of relevant industry experience, making him a seasoned expert in regenerative agriculture. He is dedicated to empowering farmers by providing them with the resources and expertise needed to enhance their crops' productivity, profitability, and resilience.

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Here's what we like: With a focus on empowering farmers and revitalizing soil and plant health, AEA has established itself as a trusted partner for over 10,000 growers. The company's scalable solutions have proven effective in increasing crop productivity, profitability, and resilience.

One key differentiator for AEA is its commitment to a whole-systems approach, which sets it apart from competitors in regenerative agriculture. By providing organic fertilizers, free consulting services, and an AI-powered data platform, AEA supports farmers in identifying nutrient deficiencies and imbalances, optimizing their harvests, and making data-driven decisions.

The company's strong financial performance is a testament to its successful business model. With $18.7 million in annual revenue and a growth rate of 35%, AEA has demonstrated its ability to generate consistent and meaningful returns. Furthermore, AEA's profitability, with a net income of $1.5 million in the most recent fiscal year, highlights the company's strong financial management and operational efficiency.

With a valuation of $36.3 million, AEA has already attracted venture capital investors, such as Tree Trunk Light LLC and Philly Ventures. With an expanding addressable market and a proven track record, AEA is well-positioned to capitalize on the increasing demand for sustainable agricultural solutions.

Here's what we don't: While AEA operates in the promising field of regenerative agriculture, it faces a highly competitive landscape with several direct competitors in the market. Vayda, Terramera Inc, Agreed. Earth, Biotrex, and Ecorobotix SA are all vying for market share, which increases the challenge for Advancing Eco Agriculture to differentiate itself and capture a significant portion of the addressable market.

For investors to get a 10x return on their investment, AEA will have to achieve either a revenue of $200 - $300 million - which can take time if the company only sells fertilizers, or successfully develop its AI-powered data analytics platform - which is a risky bet for a non-tech company.

Would you invest in Advancing Eco Agriculture?

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In this episode of the Inside Startup Investing podcast, Chris meets David Shapiro, the CEO of OPEN. Together, they dive into the venture capital world, exploring OPEN's unique positioning and value proposition in the investment landscape. David shares insights into OPEN's mission, its differentiated approach to investing, and the transformative impact it aims to create in the startup ecosystem.

Listen to the full episode here


AtomBeam’s Compaction software reduces IoT file sizes by 75% using machine learning and enhances data security. It operates 400 times faster than typical compression while using 10% processor power. AtomBeam has secured $2.4 million in contracts from DoD and partnerships with entities like Nvidia and the US Space Force.

  • Valuation: $69.9 million

  • Minimum Investment: $496

Wellness Sushi is a plant-based sushi eatery located in Denver. Offering a menu crafted from honest ingredients like beetroot and tofu, they cater to vegans and non-vegans.

  • Interest Rate: 10.75%

  • Minimum Investment: $10

Libi Materials is advancing silicon anode materials for lithium-ion batteries to increase EV range. Their method encapsulates silicon nanoparticles, potentially boosting energy density by 35-40% over traditional graphite anodes. This can extend EV range, quicken charging, and cut costs, also benefiting consumer devices using lithium-ion batteries. The company has supplied over $1 million in equipment to the US Department of Energy's project.

  • Valuation Cap: $20 million

  • Minimum Investment: $100