Venture capitalists rely primarily on an Initial Public Offering (IPO) for their big payday, but now, because of the recession, that window has been slammed shut. Does that mean venture capitalists are temporarily out of business?
Absolutely not, according to a recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Venture capitalists have simply modified their strategy to accommodate the current economic conditions. As a result, U.S. venture capital investing has remained within historical norms through the third quarter of 2008. In fact, venture capitalists entered into more deals in the first three quarters of 2008, than in the same three quarters of all years since 2001. The trend for venture capital investments is up…and so should be the spirits of any company looking for venture investments.
In addition, the major changes the venture firms are making are likely to work better for most new companies, such as:
- The life cycle of the average investment is now longer (due to lack of IPO exits). Earlier venture investments were planned to end in four or five years—now they are looking at eight or nine years. This means that venture firms may invest additional capital, over a longer period, to assure continued growth of your company until “payday.”
- On the front end of the life cycle, the venture firms are typically investing sooner in the seed and early stage start-up phase. This means they may initially invest smaller amounts than they might have in prior years. This is good news for many ready-to-start companies.
Of course, the requirements for acquiring venture capital is about the same as they always have been—that is, a great idea, and an outstanding management team. Oh yes, you also must have a willingness to work harder than you ever thought you possibly could. Venture capital is not for everyone, and it is very difficult to obtain, but for those companies that need a sound investor to help grow their business, venture capital is necessary—and available.
The time has never been better for new company start-ups, and in future posts I will be giving some guidelines on how to prepare to seek venture capital.