Putting Wall Street in the cloud: How Planet Wealth, a Memphis startup, plans to widen the doors of capital access

By John Klyce – Reporter, Memphis Business Journal
Jul 29, 2021
Let’s say someone wants to buy a vacation house in Myrtle Beach to rent out and manage, and they need to raise $200,000 for a down payment.

According to Greg Sossaman, just the cost to compile documents could be $10,000 to $15,000. And then there’s the additional cost of a website, plus video, to attract investors.

“You’re looking at $30,000 to $50,000, basically,” he said. “The ways to raise capital are cost prohibitive for the average person.”

Through Planet Wealth, however, a new digital financial services platform, Sossaman and co. are looking to change this, and open the doors to capital access for a broader segment of the population.

“We’ve put Wall Street in the cloud,” Sossaman, Planet Wealth’s CEO, said. “Any function that happens on Wall Street currently whether it’s the banking custody, deal issuance, deal funding, or exchange services — the whole gamut through some integrated partners — we’ve created a single sign on environment for that activity to take place. What we’re doing is using technology … to empower the little guy.”

The startup is based in Memphis because of Dr. R. Jeffrey Cole, a businessman and hand surgeon with OrthoSouth. He found the company in its beginning stages, invested early, brought it to Memphis, and raised more funds.

Cole and other investors recruited Sossaman — who previously worked in private banking and wealth management for First Horizon. And, so far, the company has raised a significant amount of capital. With more than 80 local investors, Planet Wealth has closed both a $2 million funding round, and more recently, a $6 million round — giving it over $8 million in capital.

Planet Wealth has created turnkey structures and software, as well as marketing strategies, to help people raise funds toward asset purchases that can fluctuate in value or grow off cash flow.

If someone wants to invest in a viable piece of real estate, or a collectable car, Planet Wealth will create the turnkey software, a promotional video, and everything else needed for them to start raising funds on the platform.

The company also has a single sign-on environment to manage investors.

“We’re trying to build a community of like-minded individuals and allow them to pool and leverage the financial resources from their social capital,” he said. “We’re marketing to people who maybe don’t have a ton of financial capital, but have a ton of social capital. We’re mirroring a social network, with a financial services platform.”

That’s not to say anyone can join the platform to raise funds for whatever they want. Sossaman said it’s similar to crowd funding with guard rails, though he considers it “wealth funding” — helping more people gain financial independence.

The company will have an investment committee that vets deals put on the platform, and the turnkey structures are designed to benefit the investors.

“The issuer doesn’t win, unless the investor wins,” Sossaman said. “The issuer doesn’t get to take a management fee or a salary for raising capital. Those are some of the philosophies we build into those turnkey [structures]. … The cash flow is going to be prioritized to [the investor].”

Planet Wealth will primarily generate its own revenue off issuance fees, which according to Sossaman will be 3-4%. That’s a rate he asserts is significantly cheaper than what you’d find on Wall Street.

“Essentially, we’re using technology to cut the fat out of Wall Street,” he said. “And by doing that, we allow almost anyone to go out and participate in capitalism.”