Barron’s | An Ex-Talking Head is Burning Down the Crowdfunding House

RedCrow co-founders Jerry Harrison, formerly of Talking Heads, and Brian Smith.

Jon Swartz | Jerry Harrison was part of a shape-shifting band that redefined pop culture on its way to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Now, in Silicon Valley, the former keyboardist/guitarist of the seminal Talking Heads is at it again.

RedCrow, the equity crowdfunding company he co-founded with ex-Morgan Stanley executive Brian Smith, has leveraged the Jobs Act of 2012 to reshape the medical sector.

It’s an audacious plan, and dream, to leverage the expertise of doctors and hospital administrators to “democratize and revolutionize the way the world receives access to and invests in early-stage health-care companies,” says Smith, who met Harrison through mutual friend Chad Taylor, lead guitarist for Live. Harrison produced the band’s platinum-selling album, Throwing Copper.

By connecting financial and human capital, the two-year-old company has helped funnel millions of dollars in investments into life-saving surgical and imaging advancements; life-quality and disease-monitoring tools supporting those struggling with declining brain functionality; and revolutionary diet and lifestyle recommendations based on scientific analysis of the microbiome, which is composed of gastrointestinal bacteria.

Forthcoming are companies working to reduce the cost of medical procedures as much as 70% through direct-to-provider access and total cost transparency; to improve health and reduce medical costs through the efficient consolidation and interpretation of medical records and data; and to develop cleaner analysis and interpretation of data throughout the biotech community.

“There are so many exciting new technologies—VR, AI, bitcoin—but there is plenty to do in the medical sector,” says Harrison, who went on to produce records and co-found GarageBand, a pioneering digital music studio now owned by Apple (AAPL). During his tenure with Talking Heads, Harrison helped define the New Wave genre in the U.S., and the band made adventuresome forays into art-funk, African rock, and polyrhythmic world-beat explorations.

After Talking Heads stopped touring in 1991 (they held reunion tours in 1996 and 2002), Harrison, now 69, tells Barron’s, he left New York and went West with his family to establish another career. Eventually, he teamed with Smith, whose interest in pediatrics and health care deepened after he and his wife lost a child who was born prematurely.

As RedCrow makes its mark on the massive medical field, one challenge is making people aware that crowdfunding isn’t just about donations, despite the passage of the Jobs Act in 2012, which expanded the concept to include a return on investment. It’s something Harrison and Smith addressed last year at The Innovation Institute in Newport Beach, Calif.

Equally important, the pair is ushering in a vanguard of investors who are supplanting the old-boy network that is heavily dependent on collegiate, geographic, and other connections.

“Now, everyone can invest in start-ups,” Smith says.  More…