Can I Invest in a Startup if I’m Not Rich? (Non-Accredited and Retail Investors)


For greater than a decade, thousands and thousands of folks world wide have tuned into “Shark Tank” to look at as famous person project capitalists put money into early-stage firms. If you’re like many, you’ve dreamed of the chance to faucet into an identical funding alternatives. 

But can a mean Joe who isn’t a star or a multimillionaire change into a startup investor?

Believe it or now not, you’ll be able to. More and extra moderate traders are venturing clear of the inventory marketplace and becoming a member of angel traders and project capitalists in startup funding alternatives. 

Can I Invest in a Startup if I’m Not Rich?

Yes, you’ll be able to put money into a startup, even with just a modest quantity of capital. You don’t need to be an authorized investor or excessive web price person to put money into startups anymore, even if you probably did up to now. Today, someone can put money into non-public firms, essentially thru fairness crowdfunding, however the area continues to be in large part ruled by way of project capital teams.

You personal stocks of Apple, Amazon, Tesla. Why now not Banksy or Andy Warhol? Their works’ price doesn’t upward push and fall with the inventory marketplace. And they’re so much cooler than Jeff Bezos.
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Moreover, simply because you’ll be able to put money into those alternatives doesn’t essentially imply you will have to.  

Most startup firms that the common Joe can get admission to are in extraordinarily early phases. Many of them don’t have anything greater than the speculation their hopes and desires are constructed on. These investments are very high-risk, high-reward propositions. 

How Investing in Startups Became Possible for Everyone

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) used to be created simply after the Great Depression. Since then, the regulatory company has been charged with protective traders, which infrequently feels extra like proscribing than protective. 

Startups have been this type of barriers for many years. 

In the previous, should you sought after to put money into early-stage firms, you needed to be an authorized investor. That manner you needed to have an revenue of no less than $200,000 in step with yr for 2 consecutive years or a web price of no less than $1 million. 

That all modified in 2012 with the JOBS Act. 

Part of the JOBS Act used to be converting rules intended to give protection to smaller traders from making dangerous investments in small companies. Under new rules, person traders within the United States who’re over the age of 18 and feature a task can put money into startup firms. 

There is one caveat. The quantity you’ll be able to make investments every year is also restricted. Unless you’re an authorized investor, you’ll be able to simplest make investments between $2,200 and $107,000 in step with yr in startup firms. The quantity is in keeping with your revenue. The rule used to be designed to make sure low- and middle-income families don’t wager the loan cost on a speculative startup funding. 

Notwithstanding those limits, the SEC has considerably larger get admission to to startup investments for traders of all wealth and enjoy ranges. 

How Startup Investing Works

When you put money into a startup, you give you the money glide (or a part of the money glide) the corporate wishes to transport into its subsequent degree of expansion. In change, you obtain stocks of the corporate you fund. 

The stocks act like conventional stocks of inventory. They constitute your possession of a small proportion of the corporate and your proper to assert towards property within the match of a chapter — this is, if there are any property left. 

Considering how dangerous those investments are, you will have to be informed the entirety you’ll be able to in regards to the corporate ahead of making an investment. You will have to simplest put money into startups as:

  • Diversification Tools. High-risk investments can very easily are compatible into near to any funding portfolio, however they will have to be used as diversification equipment, and also you will have to simplest allocate a small proportion of your portfolio to them. 
  • Long-Term Investments. Startup stocks are normally illiquid. You will have to simplest make investments cash in a startup that you just gained’t want instant get admission to to. If issues pass properly, your funding might repay large time ultimately. Conversely, if issues pass poorly, you could lose all of your funding. 

Here’s how one can get began making an investment in startup firms:

Step #1: Get to Know the Startup Investment Strategy

When you put money into startups, you need to make use of a mixture of price making an investment and the expansion funding technique. 

The very first thing you will have to search for is expansion. Sometimes startups haven’t began promoting their services or products but, making gross sales expansion nonexistent. If the corporate is pre-sales, ask questions to be informed in regards to the development they’ve made since inception.

Consider the result of the paintings they’ve accomplished within the time the corporate’s been round. Has the corporate been rising briefly and dealing laborious to convey its imaginative and prescient to lifestyles? Or has it simply been sitting round hoping to assemble funding bucks?

You additionally need to believe price. It’s laborious to pinpoint an excellent marketplace valuation on firms which can be within the early phases, so you want to be a haggler. 

Don’t simply give the startup the valuation it’s requesting. Consider the dimensions of the marketplace, the volume of pageant, and what sort of of the marketplace the corporate is prone to seize, and use that knowledge to get a hold of a valuation you’re ok with. Then negotiate with the startup to take a look at and get as on the subject of that quantity as conceivable, however don’t fold. You can accomplish that by way of achieving out to the homeowners of the trade and making an give you suppose is cheap. 

Remember, you’re the only taking the danger right here, and the danger is vital generally. So, you want a low-valuation front to make the danger profitable. 

Step #2: Determine How Much You Can Invest

Startup investments are high-risk and will have to be a part of a well-balanced portfolio moderately than all of your funding portfolio. Considering this, an efficient rule of thumb to practice is that you just will have to by no means make investments greater than 5% of your portfolio’s price in one high-risk funding or staff of high-risk investments. 

According to the 5% rule, when you have $10,000 on your funding portfolio, you’ll be able to make investments a most of $500 in high-risk performs like startups, penny shares, or cryptocurrency. 

Don’t concern, despite the fact that you simplest have $50 to put money into a startup, there are alternatives in the market for you. We’ll contact on the ones somewhat later. 

Step #3: Find Investment Opportunities

Let’s face it, startup homeowners don’t pass knocking door to door and giving shows worthy of “Shark Tank.” Instead, you’ll must perform a little digging for alternatives. 

One possibility is to believe achieving out to buddies and members of the family to seek out startup companies wanting investment on your space. Doing so manner you’ll be making an investment on your area people with out 3rd birthday party involvement that in most cases comes with charges. 

If you have got below $5,000 to take a position, alternatively, you’ll most probably want to use an fairness crowdfunding web site. Equity crowdfunding platforms securitize startups and promote stocks to a couple of contributors of the making an investment neighborhood. Although it can be harder to haggle the valuation of a startup down while you pass this course, it’s more uncomplicated to discover a various staff of alternatives. 

Step #4: Do Your Due Diligence

Chances are there’s now not going to be a lot knowledge on-line in regards to the startup you’re bearing in mind making an investment in. However, trade homeowners know their trade and assist you to perceive what they have got occurring. 

If you’ve discovered a startup on your space, you’re one step forward. You most probably have already got direct get admission to to the founder or control workforce. However, maximum fairness crowdfunding platforms be offering some way to hook up with the trade to invite questions. Ask as many as you’ll be able to bring to mind and shape an entire working out of the trade ahead of you make investments. 

Moreover, due diligence isn’t near to the trade and trade type. It additionally comprises gaining an working out of the marketplace the corporate is a part of. 

Do a little research to decide how large the marketplace is and what sort of pageant the corporate faces. The function is to discover a mass-market services or products with little pageant. If the marketplace is small, the trade gained’t earn sufficient cash to make the funding price it. If it’s already saturated with pageant, chances are high that the corporate you again won’t ever make it during the weeds to change into a pacesetter. 

You’re in search of a needle in a haystack that addresses a large marketplace with a novel product no person can compete with. 

Step #5: Make Your Investment

You’ll most probably have to head during the steps above a number of occasions ahead of you land on an organization you imagine has important possible at a reduced valuation, however they’re in the market. Once you’ve discovered your needle in a haystack, make your funding. 

If you’re running with an fairness crowdfunding corporate, the method is inconspicuous. Submit cost and obtain stocks. 

The procedure is extra concerned when running without delay with the startup you’re making an investment in. Never simply hand money over on any person’s phrase that you just personal a work of the corporate. Make positive you’re running with any person who’s a registered consultant of the corporate and that the entirety you compromise on is installed writing. 

For instance, should you’re making an investment $1,000 for a 1% stake within the corporate, you will have to make sure that those main points of the deal are integrated in a written settlement. If you’ve hooked up a royalty to the deal, your royalty bills will have to even be obviously mentioned within the contract. 

Even should you’re running with a circle of relatives member or pal, get the entirety in writing. Humans aren’t supplied with the most efficient reminiscences, and confrontation over cash has a historical past of having between family members. A written settlement may save your funding and your relationships. 

Pros & Cons of Startup Investing

Startup making an investment is thrilling. If it wasn’t, thousands and thousands of folks wouldn’t music right into a tv display about it to look at the artwork of negotiation. As thrilling because it could be, there are a couple of drawbacks you will have to in moderation believe ahead of you make investments. 


There are a number of advantages of making an investment in early-stage firms, apart from the sheer pleasure of changing into a small-scale Mr. Wonderful. You can assist in making any person’s desires come true whilst you are making your retirement extra relaxed. 

  1. An IPO Could Make You Rich. If the startup you again early on makes it to an preliminary public providing or is obtained by way of a bigger corporate, your authentic funding will most probably look like peanuts in comparison to the valuation of the corporate at this degree. Successful startup investments may flip hundreds of greenbacks into masses of hundreds and even thousands and thousands of greenbacks over the longer term. 
  2. Portfolio Diversification. A well-diversified funding portfolio comprises property of all threat ranges. High-risk investments take a smaller allocation. Nonetheless, high-risk, high-reward investments are a wholesome a part of a top quality funding portfolio. 
  3. Extremely Low Valuations. Most startup firms you put money into gained’t have very a lot to turn by means of gross sales or income. That massive threat is normally mirrored by way of a significantly low valuation, which is continuously discounted, supplying you with quite a few room for long-run expansion. 
  4. The Feel-Good Effect. Startup traders are continuously referred to as angel traders as a result of they’re the angels that stay small companies alive thru rising pains. When you are making a startup funding, you’re supporting small companies, serving to any person’s desires come true, and serving to the financial system.  


OK, it’s nice to really Feel like an angel or even higher to earn money doing it, however it’s now not all sunshine and rainbows within the startup enviornment. There also are important drawbacks to believe.

  1. Many Startups Fail. Early-stage startups are extraordinarily dangerous companies. According to EmBroker, about 90% of startups fail. You might by no means see a go back on funding, or worse, you’ll want to lose all of your funding. 
  2. Illiquid Investments. Liquidity refers to how briefly you’ll be able to flip an asset into money. Stocks of publicly traded firms are normally extremely liquid property as a result of there’s near to all the time any person able to shop for them from you. However, there are a ways fewer patrons for dangerous startups. In maximum instances, you gained’t have the ability to go out your funding till it matures, making it extra of an all-or-nothing binary funding. That manner you’ll have to attend to determine if the corporate is going abdominal up or makes it to the large time. 
  3. Little Historical Data to Rely On. Startups are younger, non-public firms, that means there’s little ancient knowledge to base your funding selections on. Instead, it’s important to depend on your working out of the corporate, what the trade proprietor or control tells you, and knowledge from the broader marketplace.  
  4. Did We Mention the Failure Rate? Not to sound repetitive, however it’s vital that this sinks in. Nine out of 10 startups fail. That manner should you blindly purchase 100 startup firms, simplest 10 will ever make it a ways sufficient to pay you any a reimbursement; the remainder will likely be busts. Never make investments cash in startups that you’ll be able to’t manage to pay for to lose. Research is extra vital than ever when making those investments. 

How the Average Person Can Invest in Startups

Once you recognize the hazards, you’re assured on your talent to investigate and perceive the trade and the put it up for sale services and products, and also you’re able to get began, right here’s how one can put money into startup firms:

Ways to Invest in a Startup

First, you’ll must make a decision which of 3 ways you’ll make your funding. You can make investments thru a personal fairness fund, an fairness crowdfunding platform, or an angel making an investment staff. 

Private Equity Funds

Private fairness price range paintings like mutual price range. They’re price range that pool cash from a big staff of traders to invest in a couple of non-public firms, normally startups. When you purchase stocks in a personal fairness fund, you personal a small proportion of each and every funding the fund makes. 

This is one of the simplest ways to put money into early-stage firms for the reason that non-public fairness fund makes all of the funding selections for you. 

Equity Crowdfunding Platforms

Equity crowdfunding platforms additionally pool cash from massive teams of traders to invest in startups, however the fundraising procedure is somewhat other. When you’re employed with a crowdfunding platform, you are making your personal funding selections, opting for which investments you need to take part in. 

Crowdfunding platforms have a tendency to return with low minimal investments, so you’ll be able to make a startup funding with as low as $50 in some instances. 

Some of the preferred fairness crowdfunding funding platforms are SeedInvest, Wefunder, StartEngine, and Fundable. 

Angel Investing Groups

You too can make a choice to take a position with an angel making an investment staff, however be ready for enormous minimal investments. In maximum instances, you’ll must shell out no less than $5,000 to get began, however there are some uncommon exceptions to the guideline. Some of the preferred angel making an investment teams come with AngelChecklist, Tech Coast Angels, and Golden Seeds. 

How to Decide Which Startup to Invest in

Now that you recognize the place you’re going to take a position, it’s time to pick out the investments you need to make. If you’re running with a personal fairness fund, you don’t have to pick out the startups you put money into; the professionals make the funding selections for you. 

Otherwise, should you’re deciding on startup firms to put money into, search for:

  • Growth. Consider how lengthy it’s been for the reason that entrepreneur began the trade and what sort of the trade has grown since its inception. It might not be successful, however it should have already got a product waiting for production runs, highbrow belongings, and a plan for commercialization. 
  • Valuation. You will have to all the time get a low valuation while you put money into a startup. Keep in thoughts that you just’re taking really extensive dangers along with your cash. You will have to be compensated for the ones dangers thru a reduced valuation. 
  • Market Size and Competition. Look into the dimensions of the marketplace the corporate plans on getting into and the contest in that marketplace. If the marketplace is just too small or the contest’s too steep, there’s a robust likelihood the corporate will fail. 
  • Business Model. Research the corporate’s trade type. Does it look like the corporate is on track to luck? If now not, it’s time to show and run. 

Final Word

There’s no query that making an investment in early-stage companies is dangerous, however a unmarried funding within the subsequent Facebook, Tesla, or Google may make you an excessively rich individual. 

The key here’s realism. 

Be life like in regards to the dangers and don’t make investments anything else you’ll be able to’t manage to pay for to lose. Also, be fair with your self in regards to the corporate you again. It’s simple to get eager about the following very best services or products and fail to do your analysis to seek out there’s already heaps of pageant. 

However, being fair with your self in regards to the dangers will assist make sure you do the desired analysis to make skilled funding selections. 

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