Venture capital is a type of equity financing that addresses the funding needs of entrepreneurial companies that for reasons of size, assets, and stage of development cannot seek capital from more traditional sources, such as public markets and banks. Venture capital investments are generally made as cash in exchange for shares and an active role in the invested company.
Venture capital differs from traditional financing sources in that venture capital typically:
- Focuses on young, high-growth companies;
- Invests equity capital, rather than debt;
- Takes higher risks in exchange for potential higher returns;
- Has a longer investment horizon than traditional financing;
- Actively monitors portfolio companies via board participation, strategic marketing, governance, and capital structure.
Successful long-term growth for most businesses is dependent upon the availability of equity capital. Lenders generally require some equity cushion or security (collateral) before they will lend to a small business. A lack of equity limits the debt financing available to businesses. Additionally, debt financing requires the ability to service the debt through current interest payments. These funds are then not available to grow the business.
Venture capital provides businesses a financial cushion. However, equity providers have the last call against the company’s assets. In view of this lower priority and the usual lack of a current pay requirement, equity providers require a higher rate of return/return on investment (ROI) than lenders receive.