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Take the Money or Run? 3 Reasons to (and Not to) Take VC Money

Updated: Feb 20

Should you go down a VC-backed path if offered the opportunity? What are the advantages and disadvantages of taking venture capital? Here are three important considerations for tech founders.

When your company is poised for exponential growth, you may have a shot at convincing venture capitalists to take a gamble on you, your team, and your product.

But should you go down a VC-backed path if offered the opportunity? What are the advantages and disadvantages of taking venture capital? Some entrepreneurs take the VC plunge and others are nervous about sharks in the water — loss of control and significant startup equity dilution are two elements that scare away many entrepreneurs.

The right decision is the one that will benefit your company most, which largely depends on your long-term funding and business strategy.

Here are three considerations for taking VC money for your startup, each with reasons to take the money and equally valid reasons why you may want to run.

1. Cash is king, and you need to capital to build

When to take VC money:

Some startups need a large cash infusion to develop their product and scale. If you’re in a big market, developing a disruptive product requires significant capital to build the infrastructure and get off the ground. Taking VC money is not only worthwhile if your market is as big as you think it is, but it might also be your only funding option for the amount of capital you need.

When to run:

If you’re not ready to put all that money to good use quickly, you won’t be able to fully leverage the investment and you will pay a higher price than necessary. You risk sending your company in the wrong direction if you have too much money at your disposal. Are you ready to handle a dramatic increase in new customers? Without adequate resources, your company could suffer costly hits to productivity and morale. Think about how much money you need and if you can put a large VC investment to good use.

2. Higher interest rates have made debt more costly

When to take VC money:

Taking a VC round instead of some form of debt financing means you won’t be saddled with repayments when your company is growing rapidly. And with the one-time large cash injection, you also have the potential to bring on an important strategic partner. Most VCs will sit on your board, giving you mentorship and guidance on your business operations. This can be helpful for your recruiting and partner referral efforts.

When to run:

Contrary to popular belief, venture capital isn’t free. In exchange for their investment, you give up a big piece of ownership in your business. And, if your business becomes successful, equity is the most expensive form of capital. Many entrepreneurs don’t realize the impact of dilution until they make an exit and it’s too late.

Additionally, the mentoring and guidance VCs provide translates in practice to losing control over your business. Remember, VCs only get paid when there’s a sale or IPO. They will be steering your company to be poised for that liquidity event, targeting a 10x return in five to seven years from the initial investment. If that’s not what you have in mind for your business, the VC funding path is not right for you.

3: Fundraising is holding back your business growth

When to take VC money:

When you’re fundraising, it can feel like all you’re doing is chasing money and networking with potential investors, when what you really want is to focus on is building and managing your company. Landing a big venture capital deal and having the large cash infusion in a lump sum is the only way to allow you to do that. For the next couple of years, your runway is funded. You can map out your plan and milestones and solely focus on running your business… for the next couple of years.

When to run:

If you're one of the 5 in 10,000 startups to successfully raise VC, then receiving your first term sheet can be the most exciting moment in your professional life! But stop for a moment and breathe. Think.

Realize that fundraising is a cycle — all the investor meetings and presentations and preparing financial documents and negotiations you’ve just been through have only bought you another 18–24 months of runway, and then you’ll be back on the VC hamster wheel. That means, optimistically, two years of running your company followed by another six months of having a second full-time job courting VCs. If you need to stay fully focused on growing your business and can’t afford the six-month distraction, VC money may not be your best path right now.

A blended approach to raising capital

Many tech startups use a blended approach in which they leverage debt financing, like Lighter Capital's revenue-based financing, to grow the company and increase valuation, and then use their proven success to get a better deal from VCs.

How Flip used non-dilutive financing from Lighter Capital to boost their value and raise $6.5M from VCs

That's exactly what Flip, a startup in the Voice and Artificial Intelligence market, did. See how they leveraged three rounds of non-dilutive financing before raising $6.5M of seed funding from VCs and a group of angel investors.


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