Do You Know What the Difference is Between Venture Capital, Private Equity, and Debt Capital?

Have you ever heard the terms “venture capital” or “private equity?” Well, if you are starting a business, you will need to know what kinds of investors you need to contact and the difference between venture capital, private equity, debt capital, and how investors are categorized. You will also need to know about what conditions different forms of capital is distributed to aspiring entrepreneurs.

Debt Capital

What is debt capital? Well, you can think of debt financing as a loan from a bank that you have to pay back with interest. In reality, that’s exactly what debt capital is. Many entrepreneurs often resort to getting some debt financing to start their business. Debt capital, depending on its size, can be obtained from your regular bank or if it is a large sum of money, you might have to go to a special bank known as an investment bank. As far as the investor who is giving you the debt capital is concerned, debt financing is a much lower risk investment compared to equity capital. This is because debt capital is funding that is lent to you, just like as if you are taking a loan out for a car or a mortgage on your home.

What is the interest rate on debt capital? In most cases, when in investor who invests debt capital to a budding company, he expects to make at least ten percent off of the sum that was invested into a given company. Furthermore, debt financing is usually given to those entrepreneurs, who the investor believes is most likely believes will pay the debt off in due time.

Equity Capital

Equity capital, on the other hand, is different because unlike debt capital; you do not need to pay anything back to the investor. Equity capital is funding that practically every company gains as its business grows. Equity is usually invested out of a particular fund and is classified as either private equity and venture capital.

Private Equity and Venture Capital

Basically, private equity is an equity fund that belongs to either privately owned institutions or private individuals. Usually private equity is invested by institutional investors, who are people that specialize in investing private equity from such institutions. Institutional investors usually work for a private equity or PE firm that manages private equity. Venture capital is also private equity but is managed slightly differently than private equity. Venture capital is actually private equity that is usually reserved for investments to companies that have the potential for high growth.

For those of you who need financing and do not want to have to worry about debts, you would like to have some kind of equity capital, be it private equity or venture capital. This funding is much better than debt capital, because unlike debt capital, you do not have to pay the investors back. Instead, with equity funding, an investor makes money when a company cashes out. This usually means that when a company is bought by another company or is prepared for public offering, that is when equity firms make their money. The other side of the coin, however, equity capital is a much more risky investment for the investor than debt financing, because with equity capital, an investor makes money only with a buyout, initiate public offering or IPO, or an exit strategy.

Investors

As mentioned before, there are different investors and investing institutions. Some investors are wealthy individuals who invest their own money to entrepreneurs whom they like, whereas others work for institutions, such as private equity or venture capital firms and invest money from their institutional funds.

Angel Investors

Angel investors are wealthy private individuals who invest their money into a given entrepreneur for whatever reason. Some angel investors invest in a particular company because they might like that particular entrepreneur or feels charitable and wants to share their own entrepreneurial experience with other budding entrepreneurs to get on their feet. Other angels might invest in a company because a particular company might fit into that angel investor’s values, ethics, or other personal interests. If you have a wealthy relative and he invests in your company simply because he wants to help out a member in his family, he is also an angel investor.

Venture Capitalists and Institutional Investors

Unlike angel investors, venture capitalists and institutional investors do not invest their own money. Institutional investors usually work for a private equity firm and invest equity from funds that are usually parts of a pension fund or other types of funds. Venture capitalists are investors who solely invest in venture capital and work for venture capital firms.

Where Does the Money Come From?

Well, that is a good question. In the case with most successful private equity and venture capital firms, the money for investments comes from venture funds that these firms have raised. When a venture capital or private equity firm is successful with their investments, they are able to raise new funds for future investments. Again, as mentioned before, equity investors cash in on their investments when a company is liquidated by either being bought out from another company, etc.

How Do You Contact Investors?

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An Alternative to Venture Capital Funding – Give Control to the Company

Using Reverse Mergers Instead of Venture Capital for Venture Funding

The more you look at reverse mergers the more you start to understand that reverse mergers compare favorably with the classic venture capital model for venture funding.

Venture funding is obviously key to the success of any new or growing venture. The classic venture capital model seems to work like this: The entrepreneur and his team formulate a business plan and try to get it in front of a venture capital firm. If they are well connected, they may succeed, but most venture capital firms are overloaded with funding requests.

If the entrepreneur is not in a business that is the latest fad among venture capitalists, he may not be able to find funding.

If the entrepreneur is very lucky, he will be invited to pitch the VC. If the venture survives this trial, it will receive a venture capital terms sheets. After prolonged and adversarial negotiations, a deal is struck and the venture company signs hundreds of pages of documents. In these documents, the entrepreneur and his team give up most of the control of the company and usually most of the equity in the deal. Their stock is locked up and if they want to sell to get some cash, they probably have to offer the buyer to the VC first. Time from start to finish – 90 days or more.

If the company needs more money, it must negotiate with the VC and the entrepreneurial team may lose ground in the deal. The company may have to reach certain set milestones to get funds. If the company falls behind of schedule, it may lose equity share.

As the venture develops, the venture capitalists may or may not add value, and most likely will second-guess the entrepreneur and his team. If the venture succeeds, the venture capital firm will reap most of the rewards. If the venture does not succeed, most of the capital will be lost forever. Some ventures wind up in the land of the living dead – not bad enough to end, not good enough to succeed.

Worst case scenario, the venture capitalists take control at the outset, become dissatisfied with management, and oust the original management which loses most of not all of their position and their jobs.

The Reverse Merger Model

The entrepreneur finds a public shell. He has to come up with some cash to do this and pay the legal and accounting bills.

He buys control and merges into the shell on terms he determines. He keeps control but he has the burdens of a public company.

He determines how to run his company, including salaries. He can offer stock options to attract talent. He can acquire others companies for stock. He determines when he cashes out.

Instead of having to report to the venture fund, he has to report to the shareholders.

Subject to the limitations of the securities laws, he can sell part of his stock for cash.

He can seek money whenever he wants; he is in control.

Problems: He may be attacked by short sellers. He may buy a shell with a hidden defect. He has to pay for the shell.

From the Investors’ Point of View

Venture capital funds are typically funding by institutional investors seeking professional management. They do not have the time to manage a number of small companies and delegate this task to the venture capital partners. Small investors are rarely permitted. Venture capital funds allow the institutional investors to diversify.

Venture capital fund investors are locked in over a period of years. If they make 30% per year returns, they have done very well.

The venture capital model encourages the venture capital firm to negotiate hard for a low price and harsh terms. A venture team seeking funding that knows it has a big future may not submit to such terms. However, for a weak company that is just looking to collect salaries for a few years before folding, in other words a company that is a bad investment, can accept any terms, no matter how harsh. Thus, the venture capital model is skewed toward selecting out the worst investments and repelling the best.

Small investors can buy stock in reverse merger companies. They must take the time to investigate these companies but may lack the resources to do so intensively. Most small investors lose money. If they win, they can win big. They can, if they choose do so, diversify their investments. They have no influence on management, except to sell when they are displeased.

Summary

The reverse merger model compares very favorably with venture capital. Whereas venture capital is perpetually in scarce supply, reverse mergers are always out there for any company that can interest investors. The company can usually raise money on better terms from the public than from venture capitalists.

Overall, the big advantage of the reverse merger is that the company has total control over its destiny. The team can be assured of being rewarded well for success. The company sets the terms, can sell stock whenever it sees fit on whatever terms it merits, the insiders can sell too, and the venture team is not second-guessed by amateurs in their field, and the venture team does not have to fear losing equity or jobs.

Another advantage is less risk to the investor. The investor is in a publicly trading stock. If the investor does not like what is happening, he can sell. He may sell at a loss, but he can get out. The investor can also pick and choose companies himself, instead of making only one investment decision – the decision to back the VC company which then takes control of the rest of the decisions.

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