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We Will Rock You: [1] The Small But Mighty Office Of The Advocate For Small Business Capital Formation, Stacey Bowers, Director, SEC Office Of The Advocate For Small Business Capital Formation, Washington D.C., April 3, 2024

Good morning. Thank you to PLI for hosting this event and to the audience who has tuned in to listen! Because I love music, you will hear that theme woven in throughout my remarks, and to repeat what will be a familiar refrain today, I am speaking in my official capacity as the Director of the Office of the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation, and my remarks do not necessarily reflect the views of the Commission, the Commissioners, or other members of the Commission staff.

I have officially been the Director of the Small Business Advocacy Office for 79 days now—some might say, too short of a duration to know much of anything; and others might say, long enough to have it all figured out.... At this point, I know two things for sure: one, just like the Grateful Dead sang, “the first days are the hardest days”[2]—but fortunately the Office’s small but mighty team has made them easier; and two, George Jones was onto something when he asked “who’s gonna fill their shoes?”[3] Indeed, although I have a vision for what I want the Office to achieve, I recognize that I have big shoes to fill as the new leader. Not just those of the inaugural Director, Martha Legg Miller, who stood up this Office in 2019, but also those of the Deputy Director, Sebastian Gomez Abero, who carried the torch upon her departure, and Amy Reischauer, the most recent Acting Deputy Director, who stepped in after Sebastian to keep the Office flourishing.

It is with pride and enthusiasm that I accept the challenge of leading the passionate and dedicated staff of the Office, who worked tirelessly through these leadership changes and have been there to guide and assist me during my first 79 days. They welcomed me with open arms and helped make my transition from academia and private practice in Colorado to this new role as Smooth as Santana and Rob Thomas circa 1999.[4]  They made it easy to get through my first public-facing test on our 2023 Capital Call—a virtual event with live questions from the public—just two weeks into my tenure; they made sure things went off without a hitch on our “Incubate, Accelerate, Ignite” event seven days later; all while keeping this speech off my radar for at least a few weeks. And to them, I say thanks.

Our Office is a Bridge

I see this Office as similar to a “bridge” in music—a connection between two sections of a song; bringing the pieces together. Our Office is here to offer a bridge between the small business community and the agency, a crucial link to help the SEC fulfil its three-prong mission. Because a bridge’s essential function is to connect, under my leadership, this Office will continue to listen to and support small businesses and their investors seeking to engage in capital formation, and to amplify their voices inside the agency. 

And we are not just a one-way bridge. We recognize that listening is not enough; we also love sharing what we learn. Unlike Rod Stewart, we do want to talk about it![5] In fact, we like talking about it so much that we publish an annual report on the state of capital formation. For those who haven’t seen our report, it is full of enlightening data and colorful graphics. For instance, did you know that one in five adults is currently founding or has founded a business in the past three-and-a-half years?[6] What about the fact that 63% of net new jobs are created by small businesses or that 44% of US GDP is created by those same businesses?[7] And were you aware that more than half of small businesses are only seeking $50,000 in capital to get started?[8] Those are pretty impressive and informative statistics. It turns out that, as is often the case, conventional wisdom is right: small businesses really are the backbone of America.

If it hasn’t dawned on you yet, I’m so nerdy that the Barenaked Ladies could have written their Big Bang Theory theme song about me and my love of numbers—okay, maybe not that nerdy—but you get my point.[9] I love data because it tells a story and often an interesting one. So, if you appreciate numbers like the staff in our Office and I do, and if you’re looking for good stories, I encourage you to take some time and peruse our 2023 Annual Report. I promise you it is a surprisingly interesting read, and the graphics may make you question if it is really a government report!

Help! [10]

As you listen to me yammer on about statistics, you may be wondering why you should care. You should care because, much like the Beatles circa 1965, these small businesses need Help! They need access to resources, connections, advice, and mentorship to help them get off the ground, keep their doors open, and succeed. Our Office publishes and maintains a suite of educational resources on our Capital Raising Hub at to help these entrepreneurs and their investors break down the complexity of the securities laws and cut through the jargon. Our resources are also designed to help incubators, accelerators, and other organizations that support and mentor them. And because so many startups tell us how difficult it is to find support, resources, and role models, helping them find those much-desired connections will be a priority of my directorship.[11]

This is where you can play a part! In the words of Patti Smith, “People Have the Power.”[12] After all, facilitating capital formation is a prong of the SEC’s mission in which most everyone can truly play a role.  For those asking, “how can I help respond to the calls from small businesses saying, ‘won’t you please, please help me?’”, perhaps you could consider volunteering with organizations that assist small businesses, exploring mentorship opportunities through entrepreneurial centers or other support organizations, or steering a small business owner or investor to our Office’s resources.

Shout, Shout, Let it All Out [13]

While you ponder how you might get involved, we will continue to do our part as we “shout, shout, let it all out!”—to quote Tears for Fears. And you know what makes us want to shout? Our Office’s resources because they are tools that small businesses should not do without. If you’re a small business owner or investor looking for guidance about how your world might intersect with the securities laws, take the bridge over to our Capital Raising Hub at! While founders may not love every answer they get on the Hub, we are big fans of the Rolling Stones in this Office, and it is our duty to remind them that “you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well you just might find, you get what you need.”[14]

And what you need might be in our Building Blocks, a series of one-pagers breaking down fundamental securities law concepts into plain language; or perhaps in our grammy award worthy “Cutting through the Jargon” glossary, which makes capital-raising terminology as accessible as a Taylor Swift song.

Or maybe you don’t really know much about capital-raising rules and what on earth the SEC has to do with your small business. In that case, you may want to start out with our navigator—it’s a “choose your adventure” type of tool that will point you to one or more of our user-friendly resources based on where you are in your capital-raising journey.

Perhaps you’re a lawyer, and your cost-sensitive client is requesting information about a new rule. While all of us in this room may be willing to wade through a 400-page release—hey, let’s be honest that is just a little light reading, right?—your client may think you have lost your mind if you suggest they read the latest SEC rule-making proposal to understand their legal obligations. Don’t worry! We all know “Video Killed the Radio Star,”[15] so you can send them over to our Office’s Rulemaking Video Gallery, where we publish short videos summarizing how proposed and adopted rules affect small businesses, and we promise we won’t Rickroll them (or will we?).[16] Of course, this is no substitute for a lawyer’s sage legal advice, but the videos are a trustworthy source of background information—certainly much better than pulling a Marvin Gaye and hearing it through the grapevine![17]

Rikki Don’t Lose that Number [18]

Hopefully, this speech will prompt you to dive into our Annual Report to explore how we bring data to life and amplify the stories of small business capital formation. Or prompt you to check out our Capital Raising Hub if you are looking for educational resources. I suspect you will become a frequent user of both, like I was before I joined the Office and, of course, still am. And if a little voice inside of you tells you that you want to help us improve them, please heed the advice of Steely Dan, who said “Rikki Don’t Lose that Number,” or in this case, don’t lose our website and email addresses because we really do want to hear your ideas! We are always working on expanding our resources to bring additional information based on user feedback. Next up in the playlist will be how to decipher financial statements and ways to seek out that much needed mentorship. We truly welcome suggestions on further additions.  

And beyond our educational resources, we always want to hear your thoughts on specific statutes or rules—existing or proposed—and how they affect small businesses and their investors. In addition to submitting comments on proposed rules through the Commission’s comment portal, you may also share your thoughts and insights with us via—that email address you shouldn’t lose.

Closing Time, Open All the Doors and Let You Out Into the World (of Capital Raising) [19]

While I have only had the privilege of being a part of this Office for 79 days, I am proud of what the team accomplishes on a daily basis. In addition to our Annual Report and educational resources, we review every SEC rulemaking to look at the impact it may have on small businesses and their investors. We also do dozens of outreach events throughout the year to engage with the small business community. Just around the corner, on April 16-18, we will host the SEC’s Small Business Forum! Don’t forget to register.

I look forward to this Office continuing to be a strong advocate for the small business community, and I will do my best to improve the access that small businesses and investors have to the mentorship, guidance, and resources that they need to succeed. And remember, don’t lose our contact information because you can always reach out to us at with your questions or ideas and visit our resources on our Capital Raising Hub at

And now, to bring this speech to an end, it is time for the mandatory late 90s throwback. While it’s “closing time” for me, all of you get to stay here and enjoy the rest of this wonderful conference! Thank you.

[1] Queen, We Will Rock You (1977),

[2] Grateful Dead, Uncle John’s Band (1970),

[3] George Jones, Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes (1985),

[4] Carlos Santana (feat. Rob Thomas), Smooth (1999),

[5] Rod Stewart, I don’t Want to Talk About It (1975),

[6] SEC Office of the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation, “Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2023” (2023) at 4. 

[7] SEC Office of the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation, “Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2023” (2023) at 4. 

[8] SEC Office of the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation, “Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2023” (2023) at 5. 

[9] Barenaked Ladies, The History of Everything (Big Bang Theory theme song) (2007),

[10] The Beatles, Help! (1965),

[11] SEC Office of the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation, “Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2023” (2023) at 6. 

[12] Patti Smith, People Have the Power (1988),

[13] Tears for Fears, Shout (1984),

[14] The Rolling Stones, You Can't Always Get What You Want (1969),

[15] The Buggles, Video Killed the Radio Star (1979),

[16] “Rickrolling” is a bait-and-switch prank that involves posting a hyperlink that is supposedly relevant to a topic of interest but re-directs the viewer to the music video of Rick Astley’s "Never Gonna Give You Up." Rick Astley, Never Gonna Give You Up (1987),

[17] Marvin Gaye, I Heard it Through the Grapevine (1968),

[18] Steely Dan, Rikki Don't Lose That Number (1974),

[19] Semisonic, Closing Time (1998),

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