Minnesota legislators want to set up an online service to link young businesses with capital.

Advocates say MNvest would work like the crowdfunding website Kickstarter. But investors would get a piece of the companies they support rather than trinkets like CDs or T-shirts.

Minneapolis attorney Ryan Schildkraut told a House commerce committee Tuesday that many of the entrepreneurs he works with struggle to find funding for their ideas.

"They have great ideas and business plans," but need better access to money, he said. Under current law, they can only solicit investments from friends, relatives and the wealthiest investors.

MNvest would act as a match-making service, connecting residents with Minnesota companies, Schildkraut said. It would open up the investment field to more people. Proponents say more than a dozen other states already allow programs like MNvest, including Michigan and Wisconsin.

A bill to establish the program passed its first House committee hearing Tuesday. A Senate committee is scheduled to take up the companion bill Wednesday.

ASSOCIATED PRESS