RISK WARNING: Don’t invest unless you’re prepared to lose all the money you invest. This is a high-risk investment and you are unlikely to be protected if something goes wrong.
Take 2 minutes to learn more.

Equity Crowdfunding Explained and the EIS benefits for Investors

Posted 2 months ago

Equity Crowdfunding Explained and the EIS benefits for Investors
Share this article:

Within the growing world of alternative finance, equity-based crowdfunding represents a model shift, offering a symbiotic platform for startups and investors alike.  Individuals looking to diversify their portfolios can now access equity crowdfunding investment opportunities, that were once the exclusive domain of venture capital firms and Angel investors. Equity crowdfunding is more than just capital; it's a democratic financial arena encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship.

The UK Government's Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) provides a financial cushion through tax reliefs, enhancing the appeal of equity crowdfunding as an investment avenue. With a focus on mitigating the financial exposure encountered by backers of early-stage ventures, EIS and its companion, SEIS (Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme), have bolstered the UK's position as a leader in crowdfunding innovation.

In this article, we’ll take you through why crowdfunding platforms are attracting a new class of investors armed with enthusiasm and fiscal incentives guided by EIS.

Key Takeaways

  • Equity crowdfunding empowers investors to hold a stake in early-stage companies or established enterprises, comparing potential rewards against the risk of capital loss.
  • The EIS offers a substantial impetus for investment through 30% income tax relief, capital gains tax exemptions, and loss relief for faltering ventures.
  • Crowdfunding platforms have become the conduits for this modern financial exchange, marrying innovation with investment.
  • The synergy of equity crowdfunding with the EIS framework reflects the UK's commitment to fostering a thriving startup ecosystem.

The Essence of Equity Crowdfunding

At its core, equity crowdfunding represents a paradigm shift in investment opportunities, aligning the aspirations of developing or expanding company with the financial support of a diverse group of potential investors. 

By offering a slice of a company's equity, investors gain a tangible stake in the success of ventures, beyond traditional investment avenues. The attraction of equity crowdfunding stems from its inclusive philosophy; it builds a path for eligible individuals to partake in opportunities that previously were not available to them. 

Through an equity crowdfunding platform, a broad spectrum of investors can back companies, with the potential opportunity of earning a dividend and capitalising on an ascending share price. Yet, investors need to recognise the characteristics of a long-term investment. Unlike instantaneous stock market trades, equity crowdfunding demands patience and a taste for the long haul, as swift increases in share value shouldn't be anticipated. An important caveat of such ventures is the potential illiquidity of shares; a secondary market for exchanging these stakes is often non-existent or limited, highlighting the significance of investor endurance and commitment to the growth trajectory of a company.

  • The meaning of equity is pivotal in understanding this investment form; it's not merely a transaction but the acquisition of ownership rights in a company's future.
  • Platforms that host equity crowdfunding invigorate the spirit of democracy in investments, opening doors for potential investors from all walks of life to support innovation and entrepreneurship.
  • While the horizons of earnings could be significant, the principle of buyer beware prevails — dividends are not guaranteed, and the share price can go down as well as up.

Understanding the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS)

The Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) in the United Kingdom, was purpose-built to catalyse the influx of capital into early-stage enterprises that embody a higher bracket of risk. This investment vehicle not only appeals to seasoned investors but also plays a vital role in the finance strategies of various equity crowdfunding campaigns. Recognised internationally for its generosity, the EIS comprises an array of tax relief options that omit some of the financial risks inherently associated with innovative ventures.

How EIS Provides Income Tax Relief

Investors can secure up to 30% income tax relief from an eligible EIS investment. This key feature of EIS can pave the way for a strong investment in groundbreaking startups, while simultaneously cushioning the tax outlay for the investor. It’s a strategic enticement that facilitates the flow of funds, aiming to turn growing companies into industry forerunners, with the investors standing to benefit from their chosen EIS investment. 

Advantages Offered by the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS)

The Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) extends benefits to investors seeking to channel funds into the UK's growing startup scene. At the core of SEIS is a tax relief incentive designed to explain the complexities of equity finance and make long-term investment in innovative enterprises an attainable goal for many.

Tax savings through SEIS ensure that investors can claim as much as 50% income tax relief on amounts invested up to £100,000 within a given tax year. This incentive serves as a beacon, drawing potential investors towards early-stage companies that are often overlooked by traditional investment avenues. Additionally, certain capital gains tax reliefs further enhance the prospect, making SEIS a preferred choice for savvy investors aligning their portfolios with emerging businesses.

Who Qualifies as Equity Investors?

Eligibility Criteria for Investors

For individuals considering an equity crowdfunding investment, the Financial Conduct Authority requires that an investor must self-certify to participate in these confirming their understanding of the risk factors. While each crowdfunding platform may fine-tune its stipulations, they routinely encompass the following aspects:

  • Experience and Knowledge: investor awareness of the startup ecosystem and an appreciation for the nuances of early-stage investing.
  • Financial Means: Investors must ensure they can withstand potential losses without undermining their financial stability.
  • Risk Awareness: An awareness of the high risks involved with equity crowdfunding.  Platforms will likely seek an acknowledgement of these risks – e.g. a multiple-choice Appropriateness Test - before allowing investment activities.
  • Research: Due diligence on the prospective business on the online platform is encouraged, verifying the credibility and the potential of the company.

Risks associated with Equity Crowdfunding

Engaging in equity crowdfunding investment requires acknowledgement of the core risk and the commitment to due diligence. This investment stream, while often strong in terms of potential funding for startups, can present distinctive challenges for ordinary investors unaccustomed to the unpredictability of early-stage ventures. Understanding these risks and the nature of the investment is crucial to making informed decisions.

Long-term Investment Expectations

Equity crowdfunding is typified by its long-term investment ethos. Investors should anticipate that appreciable returns might not materialise swiftly, with many investments taking years to bear fruit, mirroring other forms of long-term investment. This temporal perspective requires patience and resilience, as dividends and share value increases are dependent on the company's growth and success, which are not guaranteed. 

The Potential for Share Value Dilution

One risk consideration of equity crowdfunding campaigns is the possible event of share value dilution. As companies progress through multiple rounds of funding, the issue of new shares can occur, which may dilute the holdings of existing investors, potentially diminishing their relative share value and influence within the company. This dilution is often a necessary trade-off for companies seeking additional capital to scale.

Considering the Liquidity of Equity Investments

Unlike more liquid assets traded on public stock exchanges, equity investments in crowdfunded companies often lack immediacy in terms of saleability. This illiquidity requires a readiness to commit for an extended duration, with the understanding that exiting the investment will likely only be viable through significant company milestones, such as a sale or an initial public offering (IPO). 


The advent of equity crowdfunding is a testament to the evolving landscape of investment and enterprise finance. Delivering a more democratic approach, this model empowers startups and SMEs with vital capital while offering individuals a gateway to investment opportunities traditionally out of their grasp.  At its core, equity crowdfunding is not merely a transaction but a commitment to the future of growing businesses and the shared vision of their success.

Remember, the above is not advice, just a guide and a few tips on what to look for. It’s always good to get professional advice and carry out thorough due diligence as your capital is at risk before investing. 

Author: Nikki Dale

Disclaimer: To the best of our knowledge, the information we have provided is correct at the time of publishing. We recommend that you seek professional advice on any topic discussed. NextCrowd is not liable for any damages arising from the use of or inability to use this site or any material contained in it, or from any action taken as a result of using the site.

Tagged:   Equity Crowdfunding investment equity crowdfunding equity-based crowdfunding

As seen in:

  • The Guardian
  • Financial Times
  • Yahoo! Finance
  • The Times
  • The Daily Telegraph
  • Crowdfund Insider
  • The Londond Economic
  • Reaction
  • RealBusiness