I get this question a lot, so I figured a blog post may the optimal way to answer it moving forward.
Of course, it goes without saying that investing in – well – anything really, comes with its own sets of risks. [Blah blah blah, legal jargon]
For starters, Angel.co is a great launching point (if you haven’t already signed up I suggest you do so.) There you can learn about, and meet, all kinds of startups ranging from super early to the more later types. Meet entrepreneurs, people who want to work in startups, or find a startup or syndicate and place a bet on an idea you love.
If you want to get shares in companies that are NOT doing rounds or looking for an investment then you’ll have to buy shares from current or former employee on a private marketplace. Sharespost.com and SecondMarket.com helps facilitate that process.
If your goal is to just find a way to invest with more upside than a bank and less risk than a stock, I suggest using LendingClub.com for microloan investments. There you give out roughly $25 per person to thousands of people looking for them. You’ll have to keep your money in for a couple years (although there are ways to liquidate sooner if needed) but you can see about 5%-20% annual returns depending on what you set your risk tolerance to.
Tangentially, if you are looking to meet entrepreneurs and get in on a more personal level to invest, become an advisor or just learn about the startup community, there are a few options: StartUpTravels.com that connects you to entrepreneurs around the world (full discloser, it’s a project I am working on now,) FounderDating.com and CoFoundersLab.com where you can meet other founder types to start a business are worth noting.
If you are looking for a more in-depth look at the risks that go along with some of the investing products above you can check out my friend Daniel Odio’s blog here: http://danielodio.com/show-me-the-money-six-strategies-to-put-your-cash-to-work