Crowd-Funding Brings Unease

Congress is considering exemptions to decades-old securities regulations as a way to throw open the doors to entrepreneurs who want to legally sell equity stakes in their start-ups over the Internet.

But some, such as Jared Hardy, co-founder of a North Dakota beer start-up, aren’t waiting for Congress to act.

Mr. Hardy is among a small but growing number of small-business pioneers already cracking open those doors, by raising capital through the online social-networking process known as “equity-based crowd-funding.”

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