Equity Crowdfunding refers to the practice of raising capital for startups and small businesses by selling shares online to large pools of regular, non-accredited investors. Early-stage companies can raise anywhere from thousands to millions of dollars via regulated crowdfunding platforms like SeedInvest and Crowdfunder. It opens up startup investing to the masses beyond just angels and VCs. In exchange for capital, investors receive equity, profit-sharing rights, and sometimes perks. Equity crowdfunding helps democratize entrepreneurship and diversify startup funding. However, investing this way comes with high risks and speculative returns. Venture capital firms are tapping into crowdfunding platforms to identify promising startups with traction. Those that raise significant crowdfunded rounds often then raise further VC to fuel growth towards an exit.