Venture debt or venture lending

Venture debt or venture lending is a type of debt financing provided to venture-backed companies by specialised banks or non-bank lenders to fund working capital or capital expenses, such as purchasing equipment. Unlike traditional bank lending, venture debt is available to startups and growth companies that do not have positive cash flows or significant assets to use as collateral. Venture debt providers combine their loans with warrants, or rights to purchase equity, to compensate for the higher risk of default. For this reason, venture debt is sometimes considered a hybrid form of financing between debt and equity.

The venture loan is one of our most common investment structure. It provides a company with long-term growth capital while incurring limited dilution. It can be used to fund operations until the next round of financing. Quite often it is used to finance a company’s activities as it moves from being cash flow negative to cash flow positive. The use of proceeds is extremely broad and can include funding for research and development, sales and marketing, acquisitions, etc. Existing banking facilities can be accommodated, and venture debt’s flexible structure allows for various drawdown and repayment scenarios.

Long-term growth capital
Very limited dilution
Broad use of funds
Flexible repayment structure

Venture debt is a form of debt financing for emerging venture-backed companies.

This type of financing has emerged as a means of financing startups that are “in between” more traditional venture capital financing rounds.

Traditional venture capital investments occur in stages: staged equity financing allows for the venture capitalist to ensure that the startup has achieved important milestones before releasing additional investment to the company. Typically, the value of the company will increase dramatically upon successfully completing a milestone, because the completion of the milestone signals that the company is less risky than before the milestone was completed.

For example, a company developing a radical drug therapy would be less risky after receiving regulatory approval than before receiving regulatory approval. It would therefore be natural to use regulatory approval as a funding milestone.

More generally, many startups involved in drug development might have funding milestones that are tied to completing various stages of the clinical trial process.

Sometimes companies run short of capital in between funding milestones. Companies who run short of capital are sometimes good candidates for venture debt. As the company has not yet achieved the milestone that will increase its value, taking on new equity capital will dilute the earlier equity investors more than if the new equity investors put their money into the company after the company reached its milestone.

In 2006, venture loans accounted for 7 per cent of all money invested in US venture capital-backed companies. High profile US companies that have taken on venture debt include MySpace, and Athena Health.

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