Private equity investments have historically been restricted to accredited investors, which ruled out most of us. Also, you had to somehow know about these deals, which meant a high-quality network of connections.
But SeedInvest is an investing platform that's bringing private equity to the masses. It allows non-accredited investors to get in on the early stage of startup fundraising with investments as low as $200.
SeedInvest also provides all the information an investor needs to know about each company, which greatly reduces the amount of time needed for research. In this article, we’ll go over what the platform offers in detail and break down its pros and cons.
- Private equity investments in startup companies
- Open to non-accredited investors
- Minimum investments as low as $1,000
- Long-term holding periods
2% per investment (up to $300)
Open To Non-Accredited Investors?
Who Is SeedInvest?
SeedInvest is a private equity crowdfunding platform. It was founded in 2012 by Ryan Feit and James Han. SeedInvest is located in New York City.
“SeedInvest is a leading equity crowdfunding platform that provides individual investors with access to pre-vetted startup investment opportunities. SeedInvest has funded over 150 startups and boasts a rapidly growing network of over 190,000 investors.
SeedInvest has had over 15,000 startups apply to raise capital since inception and has only accepted 1% of those companies to feature on the platform,” Feit told StartupNetwork.co.
What Do They Offer?
SeedInvest offers regular investors the opportunity to participate in the private equity market. Private equity is made up of companies in the early stages of raising capital and not yet listed on public exchanges. In fact, some will never be listed publicly. Many of these companies are startups.
Private equity funds have traditionally only been available to accredited investors who were in the know. Accredited investors have a net worth of $1 million, excluding their residence, or an income for the last two years of at least $200,000. But many of the investments available on SeedInvest are open to both accredited and non-accredited investors.
SeedInvest also offers lower investment minimums than many similar platforms. Each company is free to set its own minimum. These can be as low as $500, but SeedInvest says that most range from $1,000 to $10,000. However, users who sign up for Auto Invest can invest as little as $200 per investment even if the companies have set higher minimums.
SeedInvest has three different types of fundraising options for founders:
There are three ways to fund an investment with SeedInvest:
- Debit card (for investments that are $2,500 or less)
- Wire transfer
- US checking account
The payment method should match the investor type. For example, if you signed up as an individual, your payment method should be from your personal account and not a corporate account. If you signed up as a business, the payment method must match the business name.
If the payment method name is different from the SeedInvest account, it will be rejected. Credit cards are not accepted since they can be viewed as trading on margin. Also, be aware of your bank’s wire fee if you are funding by wire.
For checking account payments, a penny test must be performed. SeedInvest will deposit a small amount into your checking account for verification. For debit cards, a $0.25 charge is applied. Once verified, the amounts are returned.
It can take some time for your investment to show up. Funds must go through escrow and then be verified before the investment is formally closed. Verification times range from 2-4 weeks depending on the investment "Reg" type.
Auto Invest allows investors to diversify their investments across several companies. The minimum to invest is $200 per company and $1,000 to get started.
You’ll have control over how your money is invested — pick the companies you want to invest in. You can stop, start, and pause auto invest contributions. The maximum number of startups you can invest in through Auto Invest is 25.
Are There Any Fees?
Yes, a 2% processing fee (up to a maximum of $300) is charged per investment. The fee will be returned, however, if the company doesn’t hit its fundraising goal.
How Do I Open An Account?
You can visit the SeedInvest website to open an account. The account opening process with SeedInvest is longer than with other types of investment accounts as it's heavily regulated.
You’ll need to upload additional documents to verify your identity and citizenship status. Accounts can be set up as an individual, corporation, or trust. The application approval process can take 1-2 days, as manual reviewing is required.
Is My Money Safe?
Investing in startups can be extremely risky. There is no guarantee that your original investment will ever be returned, nor are the companies you invest in required to make such guarantees. And funds invested on the SeedInvest platform are not FDIC or SIPC insured. You are usually investing in a convertible note offered by the company.
Private equity investments also tend to be very illiquid. There is no public marketplace (like a stock exchange) for selling your shares. SeedInvest says all that investors should expect to hold their investments for 5+ years.
You may not receive any income during the holding period (most investments don't pay out any income) or even at the end of the investment period. In fact, you can end up losing all of your investment. Even if the company is successful, you could see your position diluted by future funding rounds.
SeedInvest does, however, perform rigorous due diligence on each potential startup to help reduce these risks. Only 1% of companies are accepted into the SeedInvest program.
Is It Worth It?
For those that have an appetite for risk and want to dip their toes into private equity investing, SeedInvest provides that opportunity. And, unlike many other private equity platforms, it's open to both accredited and non-accredited investors.
However, if you have a low risk tolerance or don't want to lock up your investment for 5 or more years, you may want to stick with publicly-traded stocks and funds. Check out our favorite stock brokers for building a diversified portfolio.
$500 to $10,000 (can invest as little as $200 per company with Auto Invest
One-time 2% processing fee per investment (up to $300)
Fee is returned if the company's fundraising goal isn't met
Reg CF — Open to accredited and non-accredited investors
Reg A+ — Open to accredited and non-accredited investors
Reg D — For accredited investors only
Invest in up to 25 companies at $200 per company with Auto Invest
Share Redemption Program
Customer Service Options
Chat and email
Customer Service Email Address
Mobile App Availability
- Pricing & Fees
- Ease of Use
- Customer Service
- Products and Services
SeedInvest is a private equity crowdfunding platform that allows anyone to become a venture capitalist or angel investor in startups.
- Low investment minimums
- Accepts non-accredited investors
- No ongoing fees
- Auto Invest simplifies diversification
- Highly illiquid and risky investments
- 2% transaction fee per investment (up to $300)
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.