Whilst Revenue-Based Finance (RBF) has been in use for some time, mainly by well established businesses across a range of industries, it has only recently been in use in the world of venture capital and start-ups.
Revenue-based finance incorporates elements of debt and equity. In essence, the funding is structured as an obligation for the business to repay the investor a percentage of revenue (or some other metric such as, for example, EBITDA). Time period, frequency of repayments, terms of conversion to equity, if any, and the total repayment multiple are pre-agreed by both parties.
An example might be that of a business taking on £1m in funding, in exchange for which it is obligated to pay 10% of its monthly top line revenue with a repayment multiple of 1.5x, meaning that the business would be obligated to pay 10% of its revenue every month until it has paid back a total of £1.5m to its investors.
The clear advantage of this structure for businesses is that it can potentially be a form of non-dilutive finance as is the case in traditional equity finance, although depending on how the investment is structured there may be a situation where it can be dilutive. A further advantage for businesses is that the structure does not require any assets as collateral, as is the case with most traditional debt financing arrangements.
As an investor, the structure yields return in the form of a multiple on capital invested, an equity stake in the long-term future of the business, or both, depending on the agreement. The potential for multiple forms of return compensates the investor for the relatively high risk of the businesses in which they are investing. As with debt, the investor benefits from a stream of repayments, although this stream will vary and as such so will the term of the investment.
Revenue-based financing can work well for both the investor and the business in situations where businesses are generating revenue along with strong gross margins (such as, for example, SaaS businesses), allowing repayments to occur swiftly for the benefit of both parties.