Venture Capital Financing: Structure and Pricing


A venture financing can be structured using one or more of several types of securities ranging from straight debt-to-debt with equity features (e.g., convertible debt or debt with warrants) to common stock. Each type of security offers certain advantages and disadvantages to both the entrepreneur and the investor. The characteristcs of your situation and current market forces will impact the type and mix of security package that is right for you.

Types of Securities

Senior debt: Which is usually for long-term financing for high-risk companies or special situations such as bridge financing. Bridge financing is designed as temporary financing in cases where the company has obtained a commitment for financing at a future date, which funds will be used to retire the debt. It is used in construction, acquisitions, anticipation of a public sale of securities, etc.

Subordinated debt: Which is subordinated to financing from other financial institutions, and is usually convertible to common stock or accompanied by warrants to purchase common stock. Senior lenders consider subordinated debt as equity. This increases the amount of funds that can be borrowed, thus allowing greater leverage.

Preferred stock: Which is usually convertible to common stock. The venture’s cash flow is helped because no fixed loan or interest payments need to be made unless the preferred stock is redeemable or dividends are mandatory. Preferred stock improves the company’s debt to equity ratio. The disadvantage is that dividends are not tax deductible.

Common stock: Which is usually the most expensive in terms of the percent of ownership given to the venture capitalist. However, sale of common stock may be the only feasible alternative if cash flow and collateral limits the amount of debt the company can carry.

While each of these securities has unique characteristics, they can be grouped into two categories: debt or equity. In structuring a venture financing, the primary question is whether the financing should be in the form of debt or equity.

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