Venture capital (also known as VC or Venture) is a type of private equity capital typically provided to early-stage, high-potential, growth companies in the interest of generating a return through an eventual realization event such as an IPO or trade sale of the company. Venture capital investments are generally made as cash in exchange for shares in the invested company. It is typical for venture capital investors to identify and back companies in high technology industries such as biotechnology and ICT.
Venture capital typically comes from institutional investors and high net worth individuals and is pooled together by dedicated investment firms.
Venture capital firms typically comprise small teams with technology backgrounds (scientists, researchers) or those with business training or deep industry experience. VC has a reputation of being a particularly impenetrable career path, employing only those who bring expert value.
A core skill within VC is the ability to identify novel technologies that have the potential to generate high commercial returns at an early stage. By definition, VCs also take a role in managing entrepreneurial companies at an early stage, thus adding skills as well as capital (thereby differentiating VC from buy out private equity which typically invest in companies with proven revenue), and thereby potentially realizing much higher rates of returns.
A venture capitalist (also known as a VC) is a person or investment firm that makes venture investments, and these venture capitalists are expected to bring managerial and technical expertise as well as capital to their investments. A venture capital fund refers to a pooled investment vehicle (often an LP or LLC) that primarily invests the financial capital of third-party investors in enterprises that are too risky for the standard capital markets or bank loans.
Venture capital is also associated with job creation, the knowledge economy and used as a proxy measure of innovation within an economic sector or geography.
Venture capital is most attractive for new companies with limited operating history that are too small to raise capital in the public markets and are too immature to secure a bank loan or complete a debt offering. In exchange for the high risk that venture capitalists assume by investing in smaller and less mature companies, venture capitalists usually get significant control over company decisions, in addition to a significant portion of the company's ownership (and consequently value).
Young companies wishing to raise venture capital require a combination of extremely rare yet sought after qualities, such as innovative technology, potential for rapid growth, well thought through business model and impressive management team. VCs typically reject 98% of opportunities presented to them, reflecting the rarity of this combination.