NEW YORK — It was two years ago this month that small businesses got the option to court investors through crowdfunding. But it hasn't been the windfall its supporters predicted.

The obstacles include ceilings on how much money companies can seek, and regulations that are expensive to comply with.

The limits and requirements are designed to protect investors who may be unfamiliar with the risks of committing money to young companies without proven track records.

Another problem: About half the investors are customers of the companies, which include breweries and app makers. Crowdfunding experts say that so far, the general public doesn't seem that eager to invest in startups.