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Funding Your Start-Up

Today we have a look at debt financing, the pros and cons and why so many start-ups choose this viable option.

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You have finally finished the beta test of your disruptive new app, you have an impressive business model and a “one-in-a-million type product” that you know will fly. Ready to launch, you find yourself at a roadblock – you need money!

In our previous article we touched on the essence of equity financing and the importance of keeping investors happy. Today we have a look at debt financing, the pros and cons and why so many start-ups choose this viable option.

Let’s take a closer look.

What is debt financing?

It’s the type of financing that most of us are already familiar with. When you take out a home loan, obtain a loan to buy a car, or purchase something using a credit card, you are using a form of debt financing.

Basically, debt financing means an individual or organisation is lending you money that you must pay back with interest at a future date.

Related: How To Start A Business With No Money

Pros and cons

Ownership

Pro: Probably the biggest pro of debt financing is that you retain full control and ownership of the business. You don’t need to give away shares. Once the loan is paid off, you are free and clear of any obligation and free to run the business on your own terms.

  • Liquidity restrictions

Con: When you take on debt financing, you will immediately owe regular payments, the same as a monthly mortgage payment or a vehicle instalment. The repayment terms may differ depending on the type of loan. This will take away from the available capital you have to run your company, which is crucial for early stage businesses.

  • Availability

Pro: Debt financing is available in a wide variety of forms, including short and long-term loans, inventory and equipment loans, guaranteed loans and even personal loans.

  • Personal risk

Con: If you fail to pay back the loan, or make late payments, it can hurt your business and/or personal credit rating, which will make it more difficult to get financing in the future. If you have put up security for the loan, you may lose your security.

Related: Funding And Resources For Young SA Entrepreneurs

How does it compare to equity financing?

equity-financing

Another way to make sure that debt financing is the route you should follow, is to compare it with equity financing and see which one would suit your current position best.

Here are three things to consider:

  • Control

If you don’t have a problem sharing ownership of your business, reporting to investors and managing investor relationships at an early stage, then equity financing could be the better way to go. Investors can offer you a lot of business experience and advice.

  • Financial projections

If there are still doubts around the size of the market or how the consumer might take up your product, the risk element may be too large to opt for debt financing.  Bringing on an investor who is willing to take that risk in exchange for shares in the company, will therefore be the wiser move. However, if financial projections are sound and you are confident that you will be turning a profit sooner rather than later, debt financing is a very viable option.

Related: New Ways SMEs Can Find Funding

  • Advice or guidance vs need for operating capital only

It is as simple as deciding whether you just need money or whether you want the possible guidance, connections and industry experience the investor puts on the table.

In closing, no matter how you choose to fund your start-up, make sure that you have taken your product for a test drive. You don’t want to risk investing your own money and even worse, someone else’s money, on something that has no chance of gaining any traction with customers. Many successful entrepreneurs decide to adopt a lean approach by starting out with a minimum viable product (MVP), bootstrapping and then committing to basic market testing prior to seeking out any investment.

Once you’ve raised your funding, be it by debt or equity financing, make sure to take a moment, reflect, raise the champagne glasses and then… go out, work hard and give it all you’ve got!

Dommisse Attorneys Inc. - a fully specialised corporate finance and commercial law firm, with a strong focus on providing start-ups with the legal support they need to achieve their business aspiration and vision. Jack O'Reilly is a commercial law associate at Dommisse Attorneys and forms part of the Start-up law team.

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Alternative Finance – Filling The Gap

Alternative Finance is finance beyond the traditional – it is defined by the financiers’ area of specialisation – by what they specialise in, whom they serve, and how they provide their funding.

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Alternative Finance is finance beyond the traditional – it is defined by the financiers’ area of specialisation – by what they specialise in, whom they serve, and how they provide their funding. It does not replace traditional finance but rather functions as a complementary and additional form of funding.

Alternative financers are specialists – they focus on a particular need and on a specific audience. As a result their ‘how’ is customised to deal with their chosen target market and for this targets unique needs. This applies to the funder’s processes and to their level of flexibility around things such as collateral. An example of this is that a SME may have an existing R1 million overdraft (their traditional finance) secured by R 1.5 million collateral but suddenly they need R5 million for some kind of contract or bridging finance – they need it fast and don’t have that extent of collateral.

The traditional funder cannot provide what they need, their process is too long and their flexibility is too low. An alternative financier providing bridging finance and specialising in SMEs is ideally positioned to fill this gap.

Related: 5 Key Questions To Answer For Raising Funding

One of the most significant differences between a traditional funder and an alternative financier is in their process. In the case of the alternative financier, they have often chosen to deal exclusively with a particular customer base, for example SMEs. As a result, this funder has both an affinity and contextually relevant empathy in working with SMEs.

Not only do they speak the same language the funder also has an appreciation for the time and material constraints of the SME and has developed their processes to cater to this market. This applies most notably to the turnaround time of the funding need and to the assessment aspect – where flexibility around things such as collateral is vital in making the finance happen for the SME.

A traditional funder is unable to meet the deadline of a bridging finance need, submitted on an urgent basis, where the finance is needed as soon as 2-3 days from time of application. A specialised or alternative funder is able to do exactly this. A traditional funder is also unable to find creative methods in solving the SMEs lack of high-value collateral in applying for finance.

This SME has generally already used their high-value collateral for traditional credit facilities but now needs funding for growth or resolution of a temporary cash flow challenge. An alternative financier is able to look at such an application in a different way, and has most likely already established alternative ways to make this happen for the SME.

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How to Guides

CrowdFunding As E-commerce In South Africa

Crowdfunding is the new bank loan, without the pressures of repayments. This is why you should look into crowdfunding your ecommerce business in South Africa – from our experts.

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Nicholas Dilley

“Crowdfunding is the new bank loan, without the pressures of repayments. Crowdfunding is an online method of fundraising that allows people all over the world to put their ideas or pitches onto a digital platform. These pitches are then available for people worldwide to see, and to decide whether or not they would like to support the campaign. There are four main types of crowdfunding: Rewards-based, donation-based, equity-based, and debt-based, each with its own unique purpose,” says Nicholas Dilley of South African crowdfunding platform Thundafund.

“In South Africa, crowdfunding is still a relatively new concept and with many South Africans sceptical about making online transactions, it’s very much a rising industry. Rewards-based crowdfunding has become a growing force. Thundafund is the brainchild of entrepreneur Patrick Schofield, who founded the company in 2013. The way that rewards-based crowdfunding differs from any other form, is that in exchange for the money raised, the project creator is expected to give something back to the backer in the form of a reward. These rewards can vary, anything from a thank you card to a tangible product. However, when selecting rewards for your campaign, it is important that you keep your project and potential backer in mind.”

Related: Kickstart Your Business Through Crowdfunding

In 2017 alone, Thundafund raised more than R8 million, which was almost equivalent to the previous four years combined.

“In South Africa, we say that, realistically, you can expect a maximum of R150 000 in crowdfunding. However, we are constantly being surprised. It really comes down to how amazing your project is, how big the network is, and if the rewards are what people want. There is no reason to believe that any start-up couldn’t raise over  R1 million if founders put the work in and justify how the money will be spent,” says Nicholas.

The rising of Sugarbird Gin

rob-heyns-sugarbird-gin

One of Thundafund’s biggest recent success stories was Sugarbird Gin, which managed to raise R1 086 973. The gin is an idea conceived of by a four-person company called Steel Cut Spirits.

“As a company, we care about crafted products that have a story and an ability to excite, inspire and bring people together. We also have a proudly South African desire to put our produce on the global map, and an interest in great local gins that can use fynbos to create amazing flavours,” says Steel Cut Spirits CEO, Rob Heyns.

Despite having already had success in the industry, Rob and his co-founders identified crowdfunding as one of the best ways to bring Sugarbird Gin to the market.

“All FMCG products face the three-part challenge of competition, barriers to scale and working capital constraints. The model of rewards-based crowdfunding addresses all three of these challenges at the same time,” says Rob.

“By launching via a crowdfunding campaign, we were able to stand out from many other products on the market, and involve our new friends and fans in our ongoing mission at the same time.

“We were able to operate at scale from day one by consolidating these first orders and thus produce great gins at a better price by working with the volumes of more established gin companies. We were also able to access funds upfront before producing batches, which provided the cash flow needed to grow quickly. There are very few better ways than crowdfunding to test a concept, solve cash flow issues, scale to proper production from day one and stand out from the competition. When I decided to go ahead, I studied crowdfunding thoroughly for two months while ensuring that our team had the required skillset to be able to execute.”

Related: How Stokvels Allow You To Make Smart Purchases Through Group Buying Power

With the crowdfunding of Sugarbird Gin, Steel Cut Sprits decided to treat the campaign like the online selling of a product.

“Rewards-based crowdfunding is essentially a form of e-commerce, as you are selling products or services, so we approached it from the angle of an e-commerce campaign. Your product and marketing thus need to be spot on. We employed an evolving product strategy of refining our offers based on sales feedback before and during the campaign. We also applied a plethora of online marketing strategies, including audio-visual, digital marketing, social media, PR and even direct selling to large potential backers,” says Rob.

Nicholas agrees that crowdfunding needs to be approached in a professional manner. Most people will judge your business purely on your crowdfunding campaign and its funding page.

“Businesses and start-ups must have campaigns that appear very professional. The campaign should also be viewed as a marketing exercise that will allow the entrepreneur to test his or her product in the real world and receive feedback. Doing fun activations, like launch parties and events can also be a great way to get the word out there about your project and brand.”

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SAB Transforms Supply Chains

Supplier Development Programmes grow black-owned suppliers and create jobs.

South African Breweries (SAB)

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The South African Breweries (SAB) has invested more than R200 million into creating an inclusive supply chain that incorporates black-owned and black women-owned SMEs through its supplier development programmes, SAB Accelerator and SAB Thrive. In addition, more than 100 jobs have been created through these efforts.

SAB Accelerator and SAB Thrive aim to create a diversified and inclusive supply chain by supporting the growth of black-owned suppliers through business development support and funding. The programmes are two of four entrepreneurship development programmes run by SAB to help create 10 000 jobs in South Africa by 2022 — SAB KickStart, SAB Foundation, SAB Accelerator and SAB Thrive.

SAB’s agriculture programmes also contribute towards the aim to create jobs by growing emerging farmers.     

Related: SAB-Commissioned Research Shows SA Poised To Reap Entrepreneurship Rewards

“From rural entrepreneurs to big business, SAB has laid the foundation to support entrepreneurs and to contribute towards government’s efforts to grow the economy and reduce unemployment in the country,” says Ricardo Tadeu, Zone President, SAB and AB InBev Africa.

“We recognise that one of the major hurdles for SMEs in South Africa is the ability to gain entry into big business and form part of their supply chains. This requires a symbiotic relationship with big business working alongside smaller suppliers.”

SAB Accelerator and SAB Thrive cohesively solve the challenges of creating a healthy pipeline of suppliers that represent the demographics of the country. SAB Accelerator has piloted ten businesses that have created 29 permanent and 79 part-time jobs in a period of just six months, and is currently incubating 24 businesses as part of the official post-pilot intake. SAB Thrive has invested R100 million in seven businesses, which have created 46 new jobs. In addition, the programme has contributed R140 million in new B-BBEE preferential spend.

The SAB Accelerator is an in-house programme dedicated to developing black-owned and black women-owned suppliers. Geared towards fast-tracking participants’ growth, the programme employs ten highly experienced business coaches and ten engineers, offering both tailored business and deep technical coaching to the participants.

It has a three-phased approach consisting of:

  1. Diagnostic: Screening the business’s current situation and systematically identifying gaps and opportunities for growth.
  2. Catalyst: Proposing an intensive three-month coaching intervention addressing key business functional and technical areas of improvement or growth.
  3. Amplify: Providing additional business development to support graduates of the Catalyst Programme.

The SAB Accelerator strongly focuses on enhancing market visibility and access of its participants.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Existing black-owned or black woman-owned suppliers currently servicing SAB’s supply chain at the time of application.
  • Existing black-owned or black women-owned businesses that have potential to join the SAB supply chain based on their product or service.

The SAB Thrive fund is an enterprise and supplier development (E&SD) fund set up to transform the company’s supplier base. The fund was established in partnership with the Awethu Project, a black private equity fund manager and SME investment company. The aim is to invest in and transform SAB suppliers to represent our country’s demographics. SAB Thrive investees benefit from 100% black equity capital and business support.

Related: 6 SAB Entreprenurship Programmes That Provide Business Management And Support

The fund invests growth equity capital into SAB’s existing high-growth black-owned suppliers, furthering their profitable expansion into the SAB supply chain without diluting the black-ownership of these businesses.

Existing white-owned suppliers are provided equity capital to support the enhancement of their black ownership, while facilitating the introduction of black entrepreneurs to their business. The intention is to apprentice the individual to take over the business in the near future.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Black-owned suppliers in the SAB supply chain that want to grow their business through access to black-owned growth equity capital.
  • Existing white-owned suppliers in the SAB supply chain that want to transform their B-BBEE ownership.

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