Venture Capital

Updated on May 30, 2024
Article byWallstreetmojo Team
Edited byAaron Crowe
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What is Venture Capital?

Venture capital (VC) refers to a type of long-term finance extended to startups with high-growth potential to help them succeed exponentially. The investors are called venture capitalists who bear the excessive financial risk and provide guidance to startups to attain their objectives. In exchange, the investors get ownership in the business and multiple returns for when the company makes it big.

Venture Capital Meaning

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The National Bureau of Economic Research has stated that the average returns for venture capital firms is around 25 per cent of their investments. However, it is vital to understand that not all businesses become profitable or highly scalable. Nevertheless, the analytical and economical expertise of a venture capitalist comes in handy for start-ups during various stages of growth.

Key Takeaways

  • Venture capital is a kind of financing available to high-growth potential startups and small businesses in their early stage to make it big in the business world.
  • VC funding comes from a venture capitalist who could be a high-net-worth individual or firm that provides funding to young enterprises capable of growth.
  • It is a high-risk, high return investment opportunity for the venture capitalists.
  • The various stages in which VC funding can take place includes early-stage financing, expansion financing and acquisition or buyout financing.
  • Venture capital and private equity funding differ due to the time of investment. VCs invest when the startup is still trying to build itself while PE firms arrive at a more established stage when the startup has somewhat gained a place in the market.

Venture Capital Explained

Venture capital is crucial for startups and small companies to get funds as they don’t have access to capital markets. Resultantly, such funding has become popular as it provides above-average returns to investors when successful. Many venture capitalists are wealthy investors with finance and expertise. Other sources of VC funding are financial institutions, banks, pension funds, and corporations.

Usually, venture capital funds take this risk with an aim to acquire preferred equity or general equity. When the startup undergoes mergers, acquisitions, or stock exchange listing, these shares can be converted to cash with the appreciated share value, giving hefty returns.

A general partner (GP) manages the VC fund and works on behalf of the VC firm as a partner. GP raises and manages venture funds. Within the startup, the GP makes required investment decisions to help them achieve their goals. In addition, there are limited partners (LPs) who commit capital to the venture fund. LPs are mostly institutional investors. Venture capital firms invest in a startup at a certain stage of the business cycle, such as seeding or early growth. The funds are committed for 5-8 years.

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Video Explanation of Venture Capital



Venture capital firms have a systematic and a calculated approach towards funding a start-up. Different firms might have different approaches and methods depending on their working styles. However, a common approach to funding is as discussed below.

Stage I: Submission of business plan

Firstly, the entrepreneur presents a plan to the venture capitalist to convey the business idea. It could include details on target markets, expected profit range, business goals, and a roadmap to goals. The requisite details are an executive summary of the proposal, forecast financials, competitive scenario. etc. If the VC is attracted to the plan, then the process progresses to the second stage.

Stage II: First meeting among parties

After going through the business plan, the VC calls for a face-to-face meeting with the startup’s management. This meeting is essential because it determines whether the startup will get the business. If all goes well, the parties move ahead.

Stage III: Conducting Due Diligence

This process is a quick evaluation of the references given by business owners about the customer, business strategy evaluation, re-confirmation of debtors and creditors, and a quick check on other relevant information exchanged between the two parties.

Stage IV: Finalizing the Term Sheet

After conducting the due diligence, if everything falls in place, the venture capitalist would offer a term sheet. A term sheet is a nonbinding document that lists the terms & conditions between two parties. It is negotiable and is finalized after all parties agree to it. Post agreement, all legal documents are prepared. After this, the funds are released to the business.


The type of VC funding is based on the money extended at a particular stage of the startup’s development. Venture capital funds and private equity differ here because they invest in a company at different stages and methods. VCs invest at the early stages of the startup with the PE firms showing up at a more established stage.

The venture capital funding procedure is completed through the six stages, which are as follows –

  1. Seed Money: This is low-level financing provided for developing an idea of an entrepreneur.
  2. Startup: These are businesses that are operational and need finance for meeting marketing or product development expenses. They receive funding to finish the development of their products or services.
  3. First Round: This type of finance is for manufacturing and funding early sales. It helps companies who have utilized all their capital and need fresh finance to start full-fledged business activities.
  4. Second Round: This financing is for companies involved in sales but are still not in profits or are at break-even.
  5. Third Round: These funds are used for backing the expansion of a new valuable company.
  6. Fourth Round: Also termed as bridge financing, this is the money used for going public.

Early-stage financing has seed financing, startup financing & first stage financing as three subdivisions. In contrast, expansion financing can be categorized into second-stage financing, bridge financing, and third stage financing or mezzanine financing.

Apart from this, second-stage financing is also provided to companies for expanding their business. Bridge financing is generally offered as short-term interest-only finance. It is also provided to assist companies that employ initial public offers (IPO). VC firms also keep highly liquid investments such as money market assets and cash reserves referred to an as dry powder. They are kept as a reserve to meet future obligations.


Let us understand the how venture capital firms invest their money and back start-ups in detail with the help of a couple of examples.

Example #1

XYZ venture capitalists Ltd., got an investment pitch from a food and beverages company. The business was based on the franchisee model through which the company has already owned 5 company-owned outlets, and 15 franchisee outlets.

They were looking to raise funds to meet their production expansion and marketing requirements and through the bootstrapping in the 10 years of their existence, they had become profitable from the third year itself.

It was also a great sign that the company’s first two years in losses were due to excessive investments towards research and development (R&D). Therefore, XYZ decided to invest $15.3 million into the company in the first round of funding for a 5% stake.

Example #2

Uber has repeatedly raised finance from various venture capitalists in multiple funding rounds. You can take a look at an excerpt from Uber’s financing rounds featuring seed-Series C in the picture above. It received the seed financing of 1.6 million in 2010. After series of monetary influx, Uber finally went public in 2019, closing on the first day with a market cap of $69.7 billion.

Google in 1999, acquired $25 million from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital. These venture capitalists reaped enormous returns as Google today has become an indispensable part of the internet.

WhatsApp – Sequoia invested about $8 million in WhatsApp in 2011 and $60 million over the years. It made around $3 billion from WhatsApp. But the VC firm hit the jackpot when WhatsApp got acquired by Facebook for $16 billion, helping Sequoia make many billion bucks.

Sequoia Capital is one of the oldest and largest venture capital firms in the world. It has made billions from funding many startups such as Apple, Google, Zoom, Instagram, Snowflake, etc. As per Forbes, Alfred Lin and Neil Shen of Sequoia group are the top venture capitalists worldwide in 2021. Some of the top names from the list are below.

Venture Capital forbes

Exit Route

Exit routes refer to an event that would wrap a deal for venture capital funds. At the end of a successful VC deal, the exit route would lead venture capitalists to close their investment and reap profits from it. Usually, an exit route for a venture capital firm is the startup getting any of the following-

  • Initial Public Offering (IPO)
  • Promoters buying back the equity
  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Selling the stake to other strategic investors


Like private equity associates, there are many jobs for efficient venture capital analysts offering competitive salaries. As per Glassdoor, the average annual salary of a venture capital associate in the US is $83,006. This is because analysts and fund managers play a crucial role in cracking successful VC deals. Suppose their investments hit the right chord, VCs pocket heavy returns. Normally, a VC firm charges around a 2-2.5 % fee from the startup to cover expenses.

Most often, investors also acquire many shares of the startup. When a major event like an IPO occurs, coupled with massive share price appreciation, venture capital firms make heavy profits. Look at the earnings of Google and WhatsApp investors! The annual internal rate of return (IRR) ranges between 20-60, much higher than traditional investments. However, not all startups hit it off. As such many VC deals fail terribly, landing investors in severe losses.


What is venture capital and an example?

Venture capital (VC) is a mode of financing a startup where investors help growth-exhibiting budding companies with long term equity finance. They also provide practical guidance in exchange for a share in their risks as well as rewards. In addition, it ensures a solid capital base for future growth. For example, Xiaomi had received a substantial investment from VC firm 5Y Capital.

What are the types of venture capital?

Venture capital can be categorized into the following three types:
• Early-stage financing – seed financing, startup financing and first-stage financing; • Expansion financing – second-stage financing, bridge financing and third stage financing or mezzanine financing;
• Acquisition or buyout financing.

How do venture capitalists make money?

A venture capitalist earns an enormous return on investment in the following three ways:
1. Carry or carried interest: The fund manager many times receives a percentage share in the company’s profit.
2. Management fees: It is charged by the VC firm from the startup for providing their professional management services and to cover off expenses. It is usually 2-2.5%.
3. Gains – Refers to profits made as a shareholder from acquisition/merger or IPO listing of the startup.

This article has been a guide to what is Venture Capital. Here we explain venture capital using examples of firms, funding stages, methods, exit, and returns. You may learn more about Private Equity and Venture Capital from the following articles –

Reader Interactions


  1. James Richard says

    I appreciate the way this blog delves into the importance of venture capital for startup success. It’s a great resource for entrepreneurs seeking insights into the funding landscape. Well-researched and insightful.

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