Investing in small businesses is an exciting way to earn passive income. This alternative investment idea can diversify your portfolio while helping entrepreneurs flourish.
Typically, this investment sector is only available to wealthy investors with a high net worth. However, Mainvest is an investing platform that lets you invest as little as $100 in growing businesses.
This Mainvest review can help you decide if the platform is right for your investment strategy.
Mainvest lets you invest in small businesses with a low $100 minimum investment. You receive quarterly distributions for the investment period, which is usually between 5-10 years. This alternative asset is riskier than stocks but is a unique way to diversify your portfolio.
- $100 investment minimum
- Supports small businesses
- Receive quarterly payments
- Can be risky
- Few open offerings
- Cannot sell shares
In This Article
- What is Mainvest?
- How Does Mainvest Work?
- How Much Does Mainvest Cost?
- Mainvest Features
- Alternatives to Mainvest
What is Mainvest?
Mainvest is an equity crowdfunding platform. It lets individual investors invest in small businesses like restaurants, breweries and real estate.
The minimum investment is $100 per offering, with target returns between 10% and 25%.
You can invest in businesses and startups that are too small for stock index funds to hold. It’s also an opportunity to support Main Street businesses that rely more on investor support than established national chains do.
Keep in mind that this investment sector is riskier than most passive income ideas. Its risk comes from the fact that many new businesses struggle to profit for the first few years.
This means that your financial commitment can be the difference between keeping the doors open until they earn revenue and permanently closing.
Also, most investments require a five to ten-year investment commitment, so you cannot sell your shares early.
Thankfully, the low $100 minimum investment makes it easy to build a risk-managed portfolio.
You can invest through a taxable account or a self-directed IRA.
If you want to invest with an IRA, you must open a third-party account. Then, your advisor can help you fund offerings.
Who is Mainvest For?
Any investor at least 18 years old with a U.S. bank account can join.
Non-accredited investors are also welcome because there are no minimum income or net worth requirements. Other platforms offering private placements may only accept accredited investors.
Mainvest is for investors with a high risk tolerance and long-term investment horizon. You must be comfortable with the additional risks of investing in startups and small businesses versus well-established corporations.
The low investment minimum makes it easy to invest small amounts of money. It also minimizes your investment risk while diversifying your crowdfunding portfolio.
How Does Mainvest Work?
Here is a glimpse at how Mainvest connects businesses and investors.
Business owners can submit a funding application. Once they pass the initial screening process, individual investors can invest as little as $100 by purchasing revenue-sharing notes.
Then, the business makes quarterly payments to investors from the revenue, similar to a small business bond.
While there isn’t a structured payment schedule, businesses must pay the entire note and anticipated equity distribution by the investment maturity date.
For example, if the investment period is five years, businesses will need to repay the original investment and the total equity return by the maturity date.
This investment method lets businesses calculate their minimum investor distributions by publishing the maximum investment return before the investor commits.
It’s also possible to pay off the notes early. Investors receive the same amount of income, but their annualized investment return is higher.
To prevent scams and minimize investment risk, the platform has several protocols to screen companies before investors can start buying shares.
Some of the vetting measures include:
- The company owners must raise $10,000 from people they personally know
- A basic background check looking for potential financial fraud or lawsuits
- Routine checkups after the listing goes public
Despite this platform’s young age, Mainvest claims that over 97% of the investments have been repaid.
This screening process is similar to other equity crowdfunding sites.
Accredited and non-accredited investors can invest as little as $100 in individual offerings.
The average investment term is usually between five and 10 years.
Unlike some startup investing platforms, you won’t receive scheduled dividend payments. Instead, the company agrees to pay you a preset equity multiple by a specific maturity date.
For example, if you invest $100 in an offering with a 1.5x multiple and a five-year investment period, the company agrees to repay your $100 initial investment and $50 in dividends before the investment period ends.
While equity crowdfunding is inherently risky, you can estimate your potential gains upfront to decide if the reward is worth the risk.
How Investing with Mainvest Works
It’s possible to earn a profit with Mainvest, but you will want to perform your due diligence before investing in any open offerings.
You should also remember that small business crowdfunding is one of the riskiest income-producing assets. As a result, you may want to only invest small amounts to reduce risk.
Here is a step-by-step look at Mainvest’s investment process:
- Browse open offerings in the marketplace
- Research the potential investment
- Buy revenue-sharing notes from a linked bank account
- Funds stay in an escrow fund until the funding window closes
- The business receives your funds and strives to repay your investment
- Get your repayment plus the equity multiple at the end of the investment term
It’s possible that you will receive your agreed-upon equity payment before the investment term matures. If that happens, your position successfully closes. This gives you more money to reinvest.
The platform currently doesn’t let you sell or transfer your investment notes. As a result, you’ll want to make sure that you only invest cash you won’t need to access for several years as this is an illiquid alternative asset.
Your potential reward for a long-term investment commitment is an above-average return that stock market investments may not provide.
How Much Does Mainvest Cost?
It’s free to join Mainvest, and there are no investment fees for investors. That said, you will pay taxes on your investment gains.
Businesses pay a 6% fee from the funds they raise.
The minimum investment is $100 for most offerings.
Investing more might let you receive investor perks from the company as a token of gratitude. For example, investing $500 may let you enjoy complimentary membership for one year or receive a product sampler.
Current federal regulations have a $2,200 monthly investment limit (or 5% of your monthly income, whichever is greater) if your annual salary is below $107,000. This restriction applies to other crowdfunding platforms as well.
There are some unique features that Mainvest offers to help customers find investment opportunities that fit their needs.
Multiple Investment Options
The low $100 minimum investment makes it easy to invest in several businesses. Open offerings continually change, and you can find businesses in different sectors and cities.
Some of the potential business types include:
- Cannabis dispensaries
- Community co-ops
- Food truck
- Health and wellness
Each offering also has different potential investment returns. Be sure to take the equity multiple into consideration when reviewing investment opportunities.
Personalized Investment Options
The platform lets you take a short quiz to determine your investment goals and highlight relevant investments.
You can also browse offerings with an in-depth search filter:
- Your opportunities: Offerings on your watchlist, current investments or unseen offerings
- Round status: New offerings, funding target exceeded or funding rounds closing soon
- Causes: Family-friendly, healthy options, women-led or minority-owned
- Time in business: Less than one year, more than five years or somewhere in between
- Industry: Agriculture, beverages, dining, entertainment, etc.
You can access several fundamental and financial aspects of each business.
Some of the research topics include:
- Background of company leadership
- Business plan
- SEC filings
- Press releases and investor updates
- Previous financial balance sheets
- Revenue and expense forecasts
- Potential risks
- Investor discussions
Professional stock analysts generally don’t cover small businesses. This makes researching and monitoring small businesses more difficult.
As a result, individual investors have more responsibility to review investment opportunities by taking advantage of Mainvest’s in-depth research.
Mainvest publishes quarterly financial reports for each investment. This allows you to track your investment performance and the company’s monetary health.
It’s also possible to receive a quarterly share of the revenue. If it’s a good quarter, you can receive a bigger dividend to recoup your expected investment gains sooner.
Alternatives to Mainvest
Mainvest is a legit investing platform. That said, you might prefer established alternatives with longer track records. These services may offer less risky alternative assets as well.
If investing directly in small businesses is too volatile, you may prefer Fundrise. This crowdfunded real estate platform lets you invest in commercial and multifamily real estate portfolios.
Fundrise can be less risky as each property has multiple tenants. So, if one tenant stops paying rent, you can still earn investment income from the other businesses.
It’s also less volatile than publicly-traded real estate stocks as you avoid the daily share price swings. Better yet, you can earn a higher dividend yield.
Accredited and non-accredited investors are welcome.
You can earn recurring dividends, and the minimum investment is only $10.
Read our Fundrise review to learn more.
Republic lets you invest in a variety of alternative assets with a $100 minimum investment.
Your investment options include:
- Real estate
- Video games
You may consider joining Republic to access more investment deals and get exposure to additional industries. For example, you might be able to invest in artificial intelligence, medical and app developers.
This platform is open to accredited and non-accredited investors.
Worthy lets you lend money to small businesses, but you can earn investment income immediately.
The investment minimum is $10 for a 36-month term, and you earn 5% interest.
Since you don’t invest in individual businesses, the investment experience is similar to bank CDs. However, you can redeem your shares early and penalty-free.
Read our Worthy Bonds review to learn more.
You may prefer YieldStreet as this platform has a longer history. It can also provide more investment opportunities.
Some of the asset classes include:
- Commercial businesses
- Legal settlements
- Real estate
Individual investments are only available to accredited investors.
While non-accredited investors cannot invest in individual offerings, they can get exposure through the Prism Fund with a $500 minimum investment.
This fund awards quarterly distributions and invests in various Yieldstreet projects.
Read our YieldStreet review to learn more.
Before you use Mainvest, these questions can help you decide if the platform is right for you.
Mainvest is inherently riskier than investing in stocks and other income-producing assets. This is because the failure rate for small businesses is high.
Fortunately, the platform uses a multi-step screening process to reject businesses that are the most likely to fail or be a scam.
Also, Mainvest is registered with the FINRA and SEC regulatory bodies. The service adheres to the Securities Act of 1933 to be a legit crowdfund investing platform.
That said, like any investment, you should only invest what you can afford to lose.
Mainvest doesn’t sell your personal data. This means that you don’t have to worry about the company profiting from your information.
They also partner with third-party apps to link to your bank accounts and don’t store your sensitive details on their servers.
You can contact Mainvest by live chat, phone or email.
There is also an online FAQ library that can help you learn more about the platform. It can even help you troubleshoot common problems with setting up an account.
Platforms like Kickstarter and GoFundMe can raise funds for small businesses. You may receive complimentary gifts and product samples if you contribute a certain amount.
However, Kickstarter doesn’t award dividend income or repay your initial investment like Mainvest.
Mainvest makes it easy to help small businesses since you only need to invest $100. As they grow, you can recoup your original investment and earn a profit.
While you can make money, startup investing is risky. Inevitably, some of the deals are likely to fail.
If you pursue this investment strategy, be sure to invest small amounts of money in several companies to minimize your risk.