You, your mom, or that random guy down your block will all soon be able to join the ranks of startup investors.
The Securities and Exchange Commission voted this past week to approve so-called equity crowdfunding rules for investors, an effort spawned by the passage of the JOBS Act way back in 2012. What that means is that startups or small businesses looking for investors can go through brokers or online platforms to find them—and those investors can now be, well, anyone.
This is a pretty big deal. It marks a shift in the kinds of capital that startups and small businesses can raise. Startups today often turn to venture capitalists, angel investors, bankers, and other accredited investors, but access can require the right connections, which are often hard to come by outside major financial hubs like New York, San Francisco, and Boston.
‘Even if you’re truly invested in investing in a startup, the odds are against you.’
Now, entrepreneurs can turn to the crowd. And if you’ve part of the crowd that’s always wanted to invest in a startup, you may soon be able to in ways that you couldn’t before. But there are some things you need to know. Since the passage of the JOBS Act, experts have worried about putting safeguards in place to protect unsophisticated investors, as well as protections for startups to minimize fraud. The SEC is hoping that its new rules will address those concerns. Here’s what you need to know.
So, You Want to Invest
In the past, only so-called accredited investors have been able to invest in startups. Here’s what that meant in a nutshell: If you made less than $200,000 a year, and you didn’t have a million bucks in assets, you couldn’t invest. Now, starting sometime next year, even if you aren’t that well off, you’ll be able to buy into companies you like.