The idea of crowd funding has been around for some time now. As a successful crowdfunding destination, Kickstarter has done great. Ordinary people invest microamounts in projects and ideas they feel like it. It is no longer unusual to find ideas on this site that raised one million US dollars. Of course Kickstarter fundraising process uses a contribution model. People simply contribute money and are not to expect any return on their contribution. This is because the moment fundraising is conducted as a real investment, all sorts of legal laws kick in.
I did not know in the U.S. the Jobs Act of 2012 opened the path to fully implementing the crowdfunding idea as a business investment until I noticed recently a start-up was developing a crowdfunding broker software platform. Well, not entirely. Some sections of the Bill are still not legal, so crowdfunding is still on the waiting list.
I support crowdfunding movement very much. I think when crowdfunding happens on a large scale, it will revolutionize the start-up funding process too. Think of your ability to raise 30,000 dollars for a software project by getting 1,000 people to chip in 30 bucks each -- all legally.
Crowfunding is already here. It is going to be a game changer in investment.
Some reference information
I do not pretend to know it all, but they say Title II (506c-D "crowdfunding for rich people") and Title III ("crowdfunding for everyone") of the Act are still not legal, but reading the pundits promoting crowdfunding, I gather that this is just the US government doing its job so slowly -- read as goverment  bureaucracy. Anyway, there doesn't seem to be a stopper. This is going to happen.
- A Software Platform:
I do not know Scott Purcell at FundAmerican Software, LLC and his business partner Jon Jiles, but they seem adamant in jumping in on this opportunity. It seems to me one would require to obtain a broker license of some kind in order to be able to launch his business (hence the software). So, Fund America would not be the only game in town.
- What is crowdfunding? (According to Fund America)