Recently, several entrepreneurs have asked me about revenue financing loans. Revenue financing is a fancy way of saying a semi-complicated loan where payback is dictated by a number of elements including a percentage of revenue, not just a traditional interest rate. The good news is that it provides for a more aggressive, non-dilutive (usually) form of financing for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies. The bad news is that it’s much more expensive than a bank loan, but still not nearly as expensive as venture capital.
Here’s how an example revenue financing loan might work:
- Loan amount equal to 20% of current annual recurring revenue (e.g. $10M in ARR, $2M loan)
- Loan covenant where one month’s operating costs in cash required on hand at all times (e.g. $800k of monthly expenses, with a $2M loan, only $1.2M can actually be used)
- First 18 months interest-only monthly payments (on the full $2M, not the usable $1.2M) where the “interest” is 3% of the monthly cash receipts (hence the name revenue loan as the interest rate is directly driven by the revenue of the business)
- 3.5 years of equal principle payments after the first 18 months plus the continued interest of 3% of the monthly cash receipts (so, the loan is paid back after five years and the interest payments keep rising assuming revenue keeps growing)
- Additional 10% of original loan amount payment due after final payment or at time of next financing event (payment can be cash or equity)
- Minimum of 1.7x the original amount back to the loan provider with a max of 2.5x (since the interest rate is a percentage of revenue, if the business grows faster than expected, the interest rate could be much higher and up to 2.5x would be paid back)
Wow, it is complicated! Net net, it’s roughly a 25% interest rate loan with variability based on how fast revenue grows. SaaS, with its amazing margins and cash flow predictability, makes this type of financing uniquely suited to both the investor and the recipient, especially compared to most types of other businesses.
SaaS entrepreneurs looking to grow faster, but reluctant to sell equity, would do well to talk to the newish crop of revenue financing firms out there.
What else? What are some more thoughts on revenue financing loans?