The majority of Americans have been legally restricted from investing in private equity for the past 100 years- startups, small businesses, and pre-IPO companies were out of reach for most, but not anymore. That being said, there are some offerings that do require you to be an accredited investor. 

The government considers you to be an accredited investor if you have a net worth (not including your primary residence) of $1 million dollars OR make over $200,000 per year for two consecutive years with the expectation of earning the same or more ($300,000 if married). 

New U.S. regulatory changes now allow everyday Americans to invest up to 10% of their income per year alongside accredited investors in startups and private equity via Regulation Crowdfunding (Small OPO) and Regulation A+ (Large OPO).

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