Everyone wants to get a good return on their investments. That’s one reason people want to go beyond a simple savings account at the bank. The dream of many investors is to get in on the ground floor of something big. We’ve all heard the stories of people who joined Facebook, Microsoft, or Yahoo in the early days.

However, for most people, the world of startup investment has always been pretty opaque. It was hard for people who didn’t work in the world of finance, and those who didn’t have thousands of dollars to invest were also generally out of luck. The good news is that technology is changing that. In the same way big tech has disrupted much of society over the past twenty years, it’s starting to democratize startup investment, too.

Platforms like WeFunder, AngelList and SeedInvest make it possible for fledgling companies to connect with would-be investors. This process is called equity crowdfunding. Typically, the platform investigates startups. They provide a synopsis for their user base. Then users are able to invest in the projects that they really like. WeFunder was developed with help from Y-Combinator, and often seems to have the inside track on other Y-Combinator projects.

Most of these platforms require that investors be accredited. They also tend to have minimum investments. These hover around the low thousands. For example, AngelList’s minimum is $1,000. Other equity crowdfunding sites can require a larger investment of $3,000 or so. While these are large amounts for the average worker, they are much smaller than the traditional investment in a tech startup. Equity crowdfunding is a great way for average people to be a part of innovative projects.

Of course, only a small number of startups funded by these platforms will really make it big. Some household names like Wag! and Opendoor found investors with platforms like AngelList. Most projects on these sites will never be that successful. One reason investors in startups have the potential for a higher reward is that these investments also pose a much higher risk. It is important for investors, especially those who are inexperienced, to thoroughly research startups before investing.