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Angel investors are individuals who provide seed funding for startups or entrepreneurs in return for ownership equity or debt repayment. Angel investors differ from venture capitalists (VC) in that typically they fund smaller amounts than VCs in an earlier funding round -- the average amount is $600,000 -- and are willing to fund smaller companies.

Need to know: Typically, angel investors must meet the Securities Exchange Commission’s regulatory definition of an accredited investor, meaning he or she must have an individual or joint spousal net worth that exceeds $1 million and the individual must make an income of at least $200,000 a year (in the last two years) or a combined $300,000 in a joint spousal income. 

Term origins: The term “angel investor” originates from the early 1900s, referring to wealthy businessmen who invested in Broadway productions. Today, angel investors fund a variety of businesses.