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Debt or equity – what works better for startups? What do investors prefer?

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Are you a startup founder? Having trouble wondering which is better, debt or equity financing? Deciding which option is best for a startup can be tricky. One type of debt financing that is commonly used is the startup loan. 

But what works better for startups, debt or equity? 

For most startups, the first challenge is securing the necessary funds to turn their vision into reality. 

Debt and equity financing are two popular options that can help startups raise the capital they need, but which one is the better choice? The decision between debt and equity financing can be a daunting one, but it’s one that can make or break your company’s success. 

And what do investors prefer? 

In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of debt and equity financing for startups and provide insights into what investors are looking for when considering funding opportunities.


There are two basic ways for funding any startup or business: Debt and Equity financing.

What is debt financing?

In simple words, debt financing involves borrowing money that has to be repaid over time with interest. A startup loan is a popular form of debt financing that provides an upfront sum of money to a startup that must be repaid over a set period. 

Whenever a business receives debt financing, they receive a certain sum of money that they need to repay over a certain period of time. The borrower is responsible for making regular payments, which typically include principal and interest until the debt is fully repaid. The interest rate on a debt instrument varies on the lender, the amount borrowed, and the creditworthiness of the borrower.

Pros of debt financing:

  • Control: Borrowers retain full control over their business operations and decisions, as lenders do not have any ownership or management rights.
  • Predictability: Debt financing has a fixed repayment schedule, which makes it easier to plan and manage finances.
  • Credit building: Paying off debt on time can help build the company’s credit history and improve its creditworthiness for future financing.

Cons of debt financing:

  • Interest payments: The borrower is required to pay back the loan with interest, which can increase the overall cost of financing and reduce profits.
  • Fixed payments: Regardless of the company’s performance, the borrower is still required to make regular payments on the loan, which can be a burden if cash flow is tight.

What is equity financing?

Equity is a form of financing that involves selling a portion of ownership in a company to investors in exchange for funding. Equity financing does not involve a fixed payment schedule.

Startups often seek equity financing because it provides them with the necessary funding to grow their business without the pressure of having to make regular loan payments.

Pros of equity financing:

  • No repayment required: Equity financing does not require repayment like debt financing, instead, it sells a portion of ownership. 
  • Expertise and network: Equity investors often bring industry expertise, contacts, and guidance that can help the company grow and succeed.
  • Shared risk: Equity investors share in the company’s risk and potential reward, which can provide a sense of alignment between the investors and the company’s management.

Cons of equity financing:

  • Loss of control: Selling equity means giving up ownership and decision-making control over the company.
  • Time-consuming: Equity financing often involves a long and complex fundraising process, which can distract from day-to-day operations.
  • Valuation pressure: Equity investors typically require a higher return on investment, which can put pressure on the company to achieve high growth and valuation.

What’s the investor preference — debt or equity financing?

When it comes to investing in startups, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to whether debt or equity financing is preferred by investors. Ultimately, it depends on the investor’s goals, risk tolerance, and the specifics of the business they are considering investing.

However, some investors are turning towards revenue-based financing, a form of debt financing that offers the predictability of debt investments with the potential for high returns.

Revenue-based financing allows startups to borrow funds and repay them based on a percentage of their future revenue, rather than a fixed repayment schedule. This allows startups to retain ownership and control over their business while still accessing capital to grow.

Ultimately, the preference for debt or equity financing depends on the investor’s goals and risk tolerance. While equity financing may offer the potential for higher returns, revenue-based financing offers the predictability of debt financing with the potential for high returns. 

Startups should consider all options and decide which one works best for their unique situation.

Also Read:

Cofounder Knotel 1b Ann Azevedotechcrunch, Ann Azevedo Explains How Knotel Went from $1.6B Valuation to Bankruptcy [TechCrunch]

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