You’ve secured an SBA (Small Business Administration) loan guarantee for your startup, and it feels like a major win.
But then reality sets in.
The numbers don’t quite add up, and there’s still a gap in your funding.
How can you bridge that financial gap? Don’t worry – you’re not alone. SBA loan investors will help, whether you’re leading up a search fund, or just trying to fund your local mom and pops small business store.
In this article, we look at investors specializing in SBA loans and equity investment
Top 9 SBA Loan Co-investors to Bridge Your Funding Gap
Even with the advantages of an SBA loan, many qualifying small businesses discover that the business loan amount may not cover all of their financial needs.
Whether it’s for unexpected expenses, a strategic growth opportunity, or enhanced working capital, additional financing can play a crucial role in achieving the business’s full potential.
Here is a list of nine investors to complement and co-invest with your small business SBA loan to bridge the financial gap.
- Marc Benioff
- Google Ventures
- StartEngine (SeedInvest)
- Builders Vision
- Berkeley Frontier Fund
Accel is a venture capital firm and SBIC (small business investment company) that invests in early-stage technology companies. Founded in 1983, it is a leading venture capital firm headquartered in Palo Alto with offices globally.
Renowned for its “Prepared Mind” investment philosophy, Accel has backed major startups like Facebook, Atlassian, and Dropbox across diverse sectors.
With a portfolio of over 1,000 companies, including 102 unicorns, Accel focuses on early-stage investments, achieving 700 exits. They’ve raised significant funds for qualifying small businesses, including a $2 billion round in 2016 and a $575 million fund for European startups in 2019.
Accel’s commitment to entrepreneurial values and innovation sets them apart in the investment landscape.
Marc Benioff is the co-founder and CEO of Salesforce. He is also a successful angel investor, having invested in companies like Twitter, Airbnb, and Slack. Benioff has a wealth of industry experience and a keen eye for spotting promising startups.
Benioff has made countless diverse investments spanning Pre-Seed to Series E rounds, including co-investments with entities like Google Ventures and Sequoia Capital. His portfolio boasts 46 exits, including the Mira business acquisition by Apple and the Time Magazine business acquisition by him personally for $99 million. Recognized for his philanthropy, especially the 1-1-1 model, he especially supports causes like improved healthcare and saving the environment.
Small businesses looking to supplement their small business loans could benefit from such an investor.
Acumen is a non-profit impact investment fund that invests in businesses that address poverty and inequality. They have a proven track record of success, having invested in over 100 companies that have created over 1 million jobs.
Founded by Jacqueline Novogratz in 2001, Acumen has invested in sectors such as clean energy, healthcare, and agriculture, fostering positive impacts on the lives of impoverished communities. Their ventures include providing clean water in various countries and supporting affordable solar solutions in West Africa.
Acumen’s innovative approach extends beyond simple investment, engaging in partnerships, capacity-building, and nurturing social enterprises for long-term, sustainable impact.
They could be an ideal match for a small business of this type.
Travis Jamison, owner of Smash.vc, isn’t your typical investor; he’s a blend of entrepreneur and investor, seamlessly transitioning between the two roles based on the opportunities that arise.
Starting out as a “serial entrepreneur,” Travis founded roughly a dozen small businesses, all bootstrapped, with exits of $10M+ in his portfolio. His investing philosophy has been shaped by his hands-on experience in building businesses from the ground up.
Among his ventures, he’s known for his involvement with Smash Digital – an SEO-focused company, and Smash.vc – a small business investment company. Travis’s approach to investing is informed by his entrepreneurial journey, making him a valuable resource for startups and fellow investors alike.
Startups looking for business loans from an investor with plenty of entrepreneurial experience should pay attention.
Google Ventures is Alphabet’s corporate venture capital arm, founded in 2009 with a diverse investment focus including tech, AI, and life sciences. Their SBIC program invests in early-stage technology companies that have the potential to disrupt existing industries.
Having invested in companies like Nest, Waze, and DeepMind.GV, they have a strong track record of success.
Google Ventures has made over 1050 investments with an average deal size of $46M. They provide startups with technical support, leveraging Alphabet’s network when needed, and offers long-term support and operational guidance.
They frequently collaborate with other major entities in the venture capital space. This makes GV a strong candidate for a small business with sba backed loans looking to bridge the funding gap.
StartEngine, previously known as SeedInvest, is an equity crowdfunding platform allowing investments with a $1,000 minimum. They have a wide range of investment options, from pre-seed to Series A.
Catering to both accredited and non-accredited investors, it emphasizes due diligence and features an “Auto Invest” tool. Although SeedInvest has successfully funded over 250 startups with a strong success record, investments are illiquid with no guarantees.
Notably, it has a 10.7% exit rate from 56 funded companies. The platform efficiently coexists with traditional venture capital, having facilitated $350M in investments. Backed by parent company Circle, SeedInvest is poised for further growth, effectively merging the realms of equity crowdfunding and traditional venture funding.
Builders Vision, an impact platform founded by billionaire Lukas Walton, has made significant strides in aligning investments with sustainability and equity goals. They have transitioned 90% of their $1 billion endowment into mission-related investments, setting a new benchmark in the industry.
Their collaboration with S2G Ventures has led to investments in diverse sectors, from food and agriculture to ocean health and energy transition.
Notable investments include Matter, a U.K.-based startup focused on microplastic solutions, and early backing of companies like SweetGreen and Beyond Meat through S2G. With a dedicated team of experts, Builders Vision aims to fund high-impact ideas and share them across various sectors, emphasizing the integration of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance )factors in their strategies.
Kiva is a non-profit organization focused on fighting poverty by offering microloans to entrepreneurs and students across over 80 countries. Established in 2005 by Matt Flannery and Jessica Jackley, Kiva operates a crowdfunding platform where individuals can lend as little as $25 to support various projects.
Maximum loan amount from Kiva is quite small at $15K, so it may not serve the larger end of small businesses looking for investors. But for bootstrapped startups and solopreneurs, it may be a perfect match.
Borrowers are expected to repay these loans, and once repaid, lenders can either withdraw their funds or reinvest in another project. Kiva collaborates with local microfinance institutions, termed “Field Partners,” to vet and manage borrowers and their repayments. While initially centered on international loans, Kiva has expanded its reach to include U.S. borrowers through the Kiva U.S. program.
Since its inception, Kiva has channeled over a billion dollars in loans and maintains a high repayment rate.
The Berkeley Frontier Fund is a venture capital initiative associated with the University of California at Berkeley. It was launched with $50 million to invest in Berkeley-related startups.
The fund has committed to donate $25 million to the university, given the state’s reduced funding, which now covers only 13% of UC Berkeley’s total expenditures. The primary goal is to leverage the technological expertise of Berkeley’s community to support startups, with 30% of the profits going back to the university.
The fund has already invested in four companies: AyarLabs, Databricks, Mammoth Biosciences, and Neurona Therapeutics. Managed by Berkeley alumni, including leader Richard Chan, the fund aims to provide a sustainable revenue source for UC Berkeley and is a novel approach to funding public education.
If you or your business has any association with UC Berkeley, this may be a shortcut to gaining the necessary extra funding.
SBA and The Funding Gap Problem
In the world of entrepreneurship and small businesses, securing the right financing can mean the difference between success and stagnation. Small Business Administration loans have long been a cornerstone for startups and small businesses in need of capital. Backed by the U.S. government, these loans provide vital funding at favorable terms, helping businesses launch, expand, and thrive.
Unlike conventional business loans that may have stringent requirements, this type of small business loan is designed to assist those who might find it challenging to qualify for traditional financing.
The government guarantees reduce the lender’s risk, often translating into lower interest rates and more flexible repayment terms.
Even with the support of SBA loans, small businesses often encounter a funding gap. In other words, a discrepancy between the investment capital they have secured through a business loan and the capital they actually need to fully realize their business vision.
The funding gap can arise for various reasons, such as:
1. Unexpected Costs:
Every business venture has surprises. Unforeseen expenses like equipment repairs, regulatory compliance, or market shifts can create financial strains that the initial loan might not cover. Which sometimes means it’s better to stay a small and spicy business.
2. Growth Opportunities:
Sometimes, growth comes knocking at the door faster than anticipated. Expanding to new markets, launching new products, or scaling operations requires capital that may exceed the SBA loan amount.
3. Working Capital Needs:
Maintaining daily operations, managing cash flow, and making sales are integral to business success. An SBA loan may not always cover these ongoing working capital requirements.
4. Strategic Investments:
Building a successful business often requires strategic investments in marketing, technology, talent, or partnerships. These initiatives demand resources that might not be encompassed within the SBA loan.
By partnering with an investor who understands the unique opportunities and challenges of working with small businesses and government backed loans, entrepreneurs can secure the investment capital to take their business to the next level.
How Finding Investors Can Bridge The SBA Loan Funding Gap
By stepping in to bridge the funding gap, equity investors can unlock possibilities, accelerate growth, and create synergistic partnerships that benefit all parties involved.
Here’s a closer look at how they contribute:
1. Strategic Alignment:
Investors who specialize in SBA loans often possess a keen understanding of the opportunities and challenges associated with this form of financing.
Their investment decisions are driven by strategic alignment with the entrepreneur’s vision, industry, and growth plan.
2. Mentorship and Guidance:
Many investors bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the table. Their mentorship can help small businesses navigate complex business landscapes, make informed decisions, and avoid common pitfalls.
This guidance can be instrumental in leveraging the small business loan and additional investment effectively.
3. Network and Resources:
Investors often have extensive networks and access to resources that can further boost growth of small businesses. Whether it’s connections to suppliers, potential clients, or industry experts, these relationships can provide significant value beyond the monetary investment.
4. Risk Mitigation:
By partnering with a knowledgeable investor, businesses may find it easier to manage the risks associated with growth and expansion. Investors’ insights and strategic input can lead to more calculated and informed risk-taking, aligning with the business’s goals and the terms of the SBA loan.
5. Long-term Partnership:
Many investors seek long-term relationships, contributing not just capital but ongoing support and collaboration. This commitment can foster stability, confidence, and a shared journey toward success.
In the entrepreneurial world, the right investor can be a catalyst for transformation, turning challenges into opportunities and vision into reality. By strategically bridging the SBA loan gap, these investors enable businesses to thrive, innovate, and make a meaningful impact in their respective markets.
Step-by-step Guide to Pitch and Partner With Coinvestors
Approaching and partnering with investors requires thoughtful strategy and preparation. Here are some key tips to succeed in pitching investors:
1. Research the Investor: Understand the investor’s interests, read their blogs, and research their past investments to find the right match.
2. Prepare a Compelling Pitch: Develop a concise, compelling pitch that highlights the unique value proposition, growth potential, and how the SBA loan and investor’s contribution will drive success.
3. Emphasize the Synergy: Clearly articulate the synergy between the SBA loan and equity investment, showing how they complement each other.
4. Build Relationships: Networking and building relationships with potential investors can open doors. Engage in industry events, seek introductions, and utilize platforms that cater to SBA loan collaborations.
5. Negotiate Transparently: Be open, honest, and transparent in negotiations, establishing clear terms and expectations that align with both parties’ interests.
6. Foster Ongoing Communication: After partnering, maintain regular communication, providing updates and involving the investor in strategic decisions as appropriate.
7. Demonstrate Agility: Show your ability to adapt to changing circumstances and align with the investor’s strategic insights, emphasizing the dynamic potential of the partnership.
Collaboration between investors and qualifying small businesses can lead to a thriving business relationship that leverages the best of both the SBA loan and equity investment worlds, driving innovation, growth, and long-term success.
10 Potential Risks of Adding an Additional Investor to Your SBA Loan
Here are some potential risks the entrepreneur should be aware of:
1. Dilution of Ownership:
The most immediate concern for most small businesses is the dilution of ownership. When you bring in equity investors, you’re essentially selling a piece of your company. Over time, especially if you seek multiple rounds of funding, your ownership stake could be significantly diluted, which might alter your control over your business.
2. Differences in Vision:
Equity investors, especially those with a significant stake, may have their own vision for the business’s future. Conflicts can arise if there’s a mismatch in long-term goals, business strategies, or operational processes.
3. Pressure for Returns:
Equity investors are in it for the long game, but they also expect a return on their investment. This can lead to increased pressure to achieve profitability quickly, even if you envisioned a slower, more organic growth trajectory.
4. Potential Impact on SBA Loan Terms:
Some SBA loans have covenants or terms that restrict the borrower’s actions, including taking on additional debt or equity. Bringing in an equity investor might violate those terms, potentially jeopardizing your SBA loan.
5. Decision-making Power:
Investors, depending on the agreement, might want a seat on your board or at least some control. This could impact major business decisions, from hiring C-level executives to budget allocations.
6. Exit Strategy Complications:
Equity investors will eventually want an exit, either through a company sale, an IPO, or another method. Their desired exit timeline and strategy might not align with yours, leading to potential conflicts.
7. Financial Transparency:
With equity investors on board, there will be an expectation for regular, detailed financial reporting and transparency. For some business owners, this added scrutiny can feel invasive or burdensome.
8. Potential for Overvaluation:
In the eagerness to bridge the funding gap, there’s a risk of overvaluing the company to attract investors. This can lead to problems in future funding rounds or during exits if growth expectations aren’t met.
9. Legal and Administrative Complexities:
Equity agreements introduce a layer of legal and administrative complexity to business operations. From shareholder agreements to rights and privileges, navigating these can be tricky and time-consuming.
10. Emotional Stress:
Lastly, think about the emotional toll. Managing relationships with equity investors, especially when disagreements arise, can be stressful. Balancing the needs of the business with investor expectations can strain even the most resilient entrepreneurs.
It’s essential for entrepreneurs to weigh these risks against the potential benefits of securing additional funding. While equity investment can provide the necessary capital to bridge the financial gap, it’s a decision that must be approached with a full understanding of the implications. Proper vetting of potential investors, clear communication, and carefully crafted agreements can mitigate many of these risks.
If you find yourself and your business in this niche SBA loan funding gap, you might need an outside investor for SBA loan investing. Now you have some suggestions of who to contact and how. Check out this article for more sources of possible investors.
But don’t think of it as a burden. Remember that combining SBA loans and equity investment can turn into new opportunities and powerful partnerships. The funding gap problem may just turn out to be a new way to fuel business growth, innovation, and long-term success.
The journey from securing an SBA loan to partnering with equity investors is filled with potential. With the right knowledge, preparation, and alignment, it’s a journey that can transform promising startups into thriving, impactful enterprises.