Could equity be a new way for your travel startup to drive early adoption?News / OnlineBy Nick Vivion | July 6, 2015Share This article was originally published on The evolution of the JOBS Act in the United States has led to an emerging group of startups angling to connect everyday investors to equity in the Next Big Thing — or in our case, the Next Big Travel Startup.This new reality has landed in travel, albeit with an intriguing twist thanks to RocketClub. The startup doesn't trade equity for cash but for promotion and support.Here's how it works: Every campaign starts with a startup signing up on RocketClub, indicating how many users they are seeking and the percentage of the company they will be making available. This is how campaigns on the platform work: startups seek a goal number of members for a percentage share of the company.Share this quote Once a startup is accepted onto the platform, it can then offer a set percentage of the company while setting conditions for engagement in order to receive a stake in the company. From RocketClub: Users interested in getting involved must submit applications to become members. Once approved by the startup, they receive a stake in the company for adopting the startup’s product, offering feedback, and helping with promotion, among other opportunities.Share this quote Three travel startups have joined the platform: Meshtrip. Banter and Spottly, each offering a small amount of equity for supporters.Again, this is not a financial investment but one of feedback and support. Accepted members will be asked to post about the project a certain number of times per month while also contributing feedback to the startup.Spottly just reached its support goal of 1,000, actually surprising this figure with nearly 1,150 members sharing the project.The startup has 24 days to go as well, meaning that it might be able to lock in more support in the next weeks.Members earn 10 shares for participation, which in this case means that they must "post a spot" (or add a place to the startup's database) 4 times a month, complete one feedback survey, and refer Spottly to 2 friends.Legally, members must agree to the End User and Service Agreement, while also accepting the Stock Appreciation Unit Plan crafted for each specific company.At its essence, RocketClub is offering startups the chance to engage early adopters for feedback and social sharing.In the case of Spottly, the startup is purchasing contributor content, referrals and feedback for equity rather than cash — and startups generally have more equity than cash, making this a good trade if managed smartly by the startup.Depending on the quality of these participants, there could perhaps be a value there — although it would be entirely dependent on who these people are and how targeted their social reach is.The issue of targeting is perhaps the greatest one, as the startup must be certain that supporters have a network and perspective that adds value to the project.Any supporters that are merely interested in sharing for the equity stake are going to be useless. And unlike financial backers, there is no cash benefit to that sort of relationship.The best investors bring more than just money to the table and the same will need to hold true here if platforms like these are to thrive with startup success stories.In a vertical such as travel that works well with word-of-mouth, this platform could be a useful new tool for startups to learn and iterate.Given the low initial value to new startups, this also could be a smart move — as long as the supporter list is curated and culled to only include those who interests are most aligned with the startup's mission, goals and roadmap/NB: Piggy bank image courtesy Shutterstock.