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An Ashton Kutcher-backed media company is going public

Business Insider | Jul 17, 2017, 05.04PM IST

Ashton Kutcher

Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

Ashton Kutcher, backer of Chicken Soup for the Soul.

An Ashton Kutcher-backed company has launched an initial public offering on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Chicken Soup for the Soul, the publishing company known for its inspirational book series by the same name, plans to raise $30 million in an initial public offering for the firm's entertainment unit, according to a news release. Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment is set to trade under the ticker CSSE.

The unit is going public via a Regulation A+ IPO. The new type of initial public offering allows firms to raise up to $50 million from mom-and-pop investors. According to a media representative for the firm, the offering "will close at the discretion of the company."

Regulation A+ has made it easier for early-stage ventures like Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment to essentially crowdsource investment in a "mini-IPO." It's like Kickstarter, except investors become real shareholders.

The idea behind Regulation A+, a component of the 2015 Jobs Act, was to open startup investing to Main Street, as long as Main Streeters don't put in more than 10% of their income or assets. And as part of the rules, there are fewer requirements and regulations for companies than a full-fledged IPO.

To be sure, this worries some regulators who think non-sophisticated investors may not fully understand what they are getting into.

"We urge people to look at our filing with the SEC to see we have a very strong business with a very viable path forward," Bill Rouhana, CEO and chairman of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment told Business Insider. "Going public affords our loyal fans and others the opportunity to participate in the growth of our video content business."

Rouhana thinks Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment could be the next Netflix for inspirational content.

In 2016, Chicken Soup for the Soul purchased Aplus, an Ashton Kutcher-backed media company. The actor turned venture capitalist remained an investor in the company following its acquisition by Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment produces a wide range of video content including reality TV shows such as Project Dad, which follows the lives of three celebrity dads, and The Sip, a series of shorts inspirational videos.

"Anything that has something to do with human emotion and the human spirit is relevant content," Bill Rouhana, CEO of Chicken Soup for the Soul told Business Insider.

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment is the third Reg A+ listing on the Nasdaq Stock Market, according to Stephanie Lowenstein, a Nasdaq spokeswoman.

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