What do startups and fleas have in common? 

They tend to both rely on an outside source for survival. Dogs for fleas, and cash injection for start-ups. Especially right now in these tricky times- funding is pretty necessary for start-ups striving to reach their full potential.

As a start-up founder, considering the specific model of funding is incredibly important. It can affect your cash flow, control of the company, and more. When companies require funding, there are numerous options available, such as debt or equity-based finance. But revenue-based is often viewed as a third-party option that has direct benefits over other loan models.

revenue based finance

What is a revenue-based finance loan? 

Loans approved for the revenue-based model are granted on the basis of regular repayments of a percentage of gross profits. Revenue determines the length of the payback period, with higher gross profits shortening the loan term. 

One of the unique aspects of this type of financing is that it is largely data-driven. It relies on past profits and losses and takes assets and liabilities into account. Approval or rejection from this type of funding is largely related to unit economics and projected income, not piles of paper reports. This means that funding decisions can be made within minutes. More importantly, acceptance of revenue-based finance by an investor is a confidence in the data to return scale and growth ensuring that the full amount can be repaid. 

What is an example of revenue-based financing? 

For example, Company X is loaned $20,000 on the condition that they agree to pay back 10% of profits until the loan is repaid. While revenue-based financing does not include standard interest payments, financing companies will charge a flat fee for the financing, to be repaid over a specific timeline

In month 1, company X makes a revenue of $50,000, which means they pay back $5,000 of the loan. In month 2 they make a revenue of $85,000 and pay back $8,500, whereas, in month 3, they only make $30,000 in revenue and pay back $3,000. 

In this way, it is clear that the company’s revenues determine the period of the loan. If your profits suffer, your loan amount decreases in accordance. It’s the big flexible feature of revenue-based financing and a pretty cool way to do business. 

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Revenue based financing Canada

Is revenue debt or equity-based finance?

Debt funding models do not take any equity from the shareholders but do put pressure on paying back a fixed amount with interest. There is no flexibility if performance changes between months, the fixed amount must be paid. Plus, in order to secure capital in a debt-based model, business founders, directors, and owners are often required to put up their own personal collateral in case of failure. Therefore, debt-based financing can be incredibly high-risk. 

Alternatively, equity-based funding works on the basis of promised equity to the investor in exchange for a cash injection. While there is a lower risk (and no ontake of debt), the issue here is that founders and directors lose a portion of their ownership. Not only does that decrease control in decision-making aspects of the start-up, but loss of shares also reduces access to a segment of future profits. 

Most view revenue-based finance as a third option, not completely separated from debt finance but definitely a mutated form. Revenue financing provides the performance-based flexibility of equity models while still retaining full ownership of the company. 

Why choose revenue-based financing?

As mentioned, there are other venture capital models available, such as debt-based financing and equity-based financing. These are the more traditional options that have been popular in times of economic security and strength. 

However, in times of covid, venture capital is drying up. This is combined with systematic risk across other funding sources, such as the stock market, is pushing more and more start-ups into revenue-based financing. It is viewed as a more secure way to grow. Choosing a revenue-based finance source has a number of other advantages.

Firstly, revenue-based finance has a non-dilutive nature which allows founders and directors to retain full control. This is likely to be especially important to early-stage companies, who have the potential for incredible growth and profit but just require a cash injection to get there. Furthermore, preserving the ownership of shares keeps profits accessible in future years. This maximises potential income to be reinvested into the company, or for founders to create their returns. 

Added to this is the fact that no collateral is required to process the loan. This can relieve pressure on the overall operation, while also harnessing positive performance in a flexible way. 

What do I mean by that? 

Since revenue-based financing works on a profit-related model, loan repayments can be flexible in relation to this. No pressure if you have a bad month or two, your loan repayment amount is on the same scale. This factor is especially useful for businesses with seasonal performance or variable income, such as ski resorts. 

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Other Considerations for Revenue-Based Financing?

Venture capital is a risk for any investor, but agreeing to pay back a multiple of the principal amount covers that risk to make this a fair way to invest. This is no doubt the largest downside- as revenue-based financing definitely has a higher upfront cost in exchange for access to capital. 

The other consideration to make is around the rules and regulations of this source of investment. Unfortunately, due to the new nature of revenue-based financing, there is currently little legal regulation around it. This means that while financial risk is lowered, legal and overall risk can be greater. Then again, before taking on any new investment founders are likely to consult a legal professional. So as long as due diligence is carried out, theoretically this risk can be mitigated. 

Revenue-based financing is a great option for start-ups who require funding to get moving.  Although it’s a fairly new way to work, more and more businesses are choosing this route to retain full control over their company.  But, if it’s not for you, it may be worth considering other options, such as Asset Financing. Either way, we hope you’ve enjoyed this article and would love to start the discussion if you have any thoughts or questions. 

What are other common sources of funding?

Now we know what revenue-based finance is in pretty straightforward terms. But to determine if it’s the right model for injecting growth into your business; it’s useful to know about more of your options. 

Typically, there are six common channels of funding available to every company. Some of these may be unavailable in the early stages, while others are unsuitable during phases of growth. The six sources of funding are:

  1. Business Angels 
  2. Venture Capital aka private debt or equity funding
  3. Crowdfunding aka friends & family 
  4. Enterprise Investment Scheme
  5. Alternative Platform Financing (government-based or private)
  6. Stock Market

Depending on the growth stage of your business, one of these options may be more suitable than the others. Aspects to consider include the length of the payback period, interest rate, and level of control retained in the company.

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Alex Kepka

Alex is a tech-focused funding expert, helping innovative companies grow through innovative funding through her work at Fundsquire. She also has a background in journalism, having written for outlets like Vice and many others in the past on topics ranging from philosophy to economics.