Venture Capital Definitions - Illinois Venture Capital Association

Venture Capital Definitions

Early Stage Financing

Seed Stage Financing

At this stage, a relatively small amount of capital is made available in order to support an investor or entrepreneur in proving a concept and qualifying for start-up capital. This may involve product development and market research as well as building a management team and developing a business plan if the initial steps are successful. Seed stage financing is pre-marketing stage.

Start-up Financing

This stage involves financing companies that are completing development, and may include initial marketing efforts. Companies may be in the process of organizing or may have been in business for one year or less, but have not sold their products commercially. Usually, such firms will have conducted market studies, assembled key management, developed a business plan, and prepared to begin conducting business.

Other Early Stage Financing

Other early stage financing includes an increase in valuation, total size, and per-share price for companies whose products are either in development or commercially unavailable. This stage involves the first round of financing following a company’s start-up phase and involves an institutional venture capital fund. Seed and start-up financing tend to involve angel investors more than institutional investors. The networking capabilities of the venture capitalist are used more here than in advanced stages.

Expansion/Growth Stage

Expansion/Growth Stage Financing

This stage involves working capital for the initial expansion of a company that is producing, shipping, and has growing accounts receivable and inventories. It may or may not be showing a profit. Some of the uses of capital may include further plant expansion, marketing, working capital, or development of an improved product. More institutional investors are likely to be included along with investors from previous rounds. The venture capitalist’s role in this stage evolves from a supportive role to a more strategic role.

Later Stage

Capital in this stage is provided for companies that have reached a fairly stable growth rate, that is, they are no longer growing as fast as the rates attained in the expansion stages. Again, these companies may or may not be profitable, but are more likely to be than in previous stages, and their financial characteristics include positive cash flow.

Bridge Financing

This stage applies to a company that plans to go public within six months to a year. Often, bridge financing is structured so that it can be repaid from the proceeds of a public underwriting. It can also involve restructuring of major stockholder positions through secondary transactions. Restructuring is undertaken if there are early investors who want to reduce or liquidate their positions, or if management has changed and the stockholdings of the former management, their relatives, and associates are bought out to relieve a potential oversupply when public.


Acquisition Financing

This stage provides funds to finance acquiring another company. Included in this category would be mezzanine financing using subordinated debt and bridge loans used to finance LBOs, acquisitions, and recapitalizations.

Management/Leveraged Buyout

These funds enable an operating management group to acquire a product line of a public or private company at any stage of development. Often, these companies are closely held and family owned. Management/leveraged buyouts usually involve revitalizing an operation, with entrepreneurial management acquiring a significant equity interest.


This stage involves financing provided to a company with the intention of improving performance at a time of operational or financial difficulty. This stage includes financing that involves restructuring equity.

Source: Thomson Venture Economics