TL;DR: There are more funding options than ever for founders these days, each with a huge pros and cons list. Revenue based financing is a convenient alternative to venture capital where you retain equity in your company and hit key milestones typically only available to venture backed companies.
In a Nutshell
Revenue based financing (revenue based investing, RBF, RBI) is the concept of committing future revenues - typically recurring - to an investor for access to upfront capital. While typically used by SaaS, marketplace, eComm, and various other technology companies, RBF is a far more flexible option than VC.
Eligibility for RBF varies based on the investor or entity, but roughy follow the same framework:
- Minimum monthly revenue or MRR
- Minimum annual revenue or ARR
- Minimum time in business
- Personal credit score
- Minimum profit margin and/or profitability
RBF vs. Venture Financing
Traditionally, founders seek funding from venture capitalists and large funds or firms. While this is a common occurrence, the accessibility of venture capital has been called into question in the last decade. Statistically there are more startups and venture investment than ever before, yet there is an increasing disparity in who gets funded and what those terms will ultimately be.
Revenue based financing provides an alternative source for startup funding, and firms generally aim to make the service accessible and equitable. Rather than relying on warm intros and potential unicorn status (which, let's be honest, isn't always the endgame for everyone) revenue based financing provides fair terms based on your actual financial data and potential.
Most firms look at your quantitative financial metrics, but it boils down to:
- Burn rate
As a part of the diligence process, they'll dig into team, profitability, and key metrics like LTV and CAC. If their projections look positive, they'll offer you terms for a total amount and an allocation of revenue to be paid back. You will be in effect leveraging your future revenues to receive funding in the short term. What does this mean for your roadmap?
- Funding. Dollars. Cash. It goes a long way
- Equity. Your business is still your business.
- Peace of mind. There aren't any pro rata rights, conflicting ideals or advice, or board votes.
While this is not a comprehensive list by any means, there are an increasing number of revenue based financing partners available in the market. These firms have various requirements they must meet and industries/geographies they focus on, but most have an easy application to get qualification started self-serve.
- $2.5MM+ ARR or $4MM+ annual revenue required for lending qualification
- Average MRR $15K over last three months, 50% profit margin required
- Profitably not a requirement
- Available in the US, Canada, and Australia
- 575 Personal Credit Score
- Operating 1+ years
- $10K monthly sales minimum
- Holistic approach to evaluation including Google Ads + Analytics, Accounting Data, and Stripe + Shopify data
- UK based companies only
- Focused on eComm, marketplace, SaaS
Revenue based financing - and startup funding in general - can be an overwhelming subject. We've compiled some good guides from around the industry however, along with a directory of other partners in the space.
Take a look below, and let us know if there is anything missing that you'd like to see.
Have you pursued revenue based financing in the past? Do you have any lingering questions? Let me know your thoughts ➡️ firstname.lastname@example.org
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