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For the last 80 years, private companies could only raise capital from accredited investors, the wealthiest 2% of Americans. On April 5, 2012, President Obama signed a landmark piece of legislation called The JOBS Act, allowing entrepreneurs to go to the crowd and publicly advertise their capital raises. On May 16, 2016, four years after the JOBS Act was signed, Title III (aka Regulation CF) of the JOBS Act went into effect, allowing private early-stage companies to raise money from all Americans. Startups can now use equity crowdfunding to turn their customers into investors. Title III of the JOBS Act outlines Reg CF, a type of offering allowing private companies to raise up to $5 million from all Americans. Prior capital raising options, limited private companies to raising money only from accredited investors, historically the wealthiest ~2% of Americans. Like a Kickstarter campaign, Reg CF allows companies to raise funds online from their early adopters and the crowd. However, instead of providing investors a reward such as a t-shirt or a card, investors receive securities, typically equity, in the startups they back.
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