Southern Maine companies dominated equity fundraising last year

Originally published by Darren Fishell on Bangor Daily News.

Companies in Cumberland County last year dominated fundraising through private security offerings, selling either stakes in their company or debt to raise cash.

CashStar's equity fundraising

CashStar CEO Ben Kaplan gives a tour of his company’s new open, collaborative offices on Pearl Street in Portland on Tuesday. CashStar manages digital gift card payments for retailers like Starbucks. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Of the $115.5 million private companies in Maine raised last year, mostly from offering company shares, about 83 percent went to companies based in Cumberland County, according to a Bangor Daily News analysis of filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Nearly half that amount came from one company, Direct Vet Marketing Inc., an online pharmacy for veterinary offices started by Ben Shaw, son of Idexx founder David Shaw. The company does business under the name Vets First Choice.

That company’s $52.3 million round of equity fundraising was more than five times the amount of the next-highest equity offering from another Portland-based company, CashStar. The digital gift card company reported selling $15 million of a $22.5 million offering.

The fundraising reflects private companies that offered company equity or secured debt to investors, under a range of exemptions the SEC makes available to companies that have not yet started selling company shares publicly, such as on the New York Stock Exchange. Private companies report those offerings, which are exempt from registration, in a Form D filing.