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Understanding Venture Debt Funds: How They Differ From Venture Capital Funds

Venture capital (VC) has long been the go-to option for startups seeking funding. But in recent years, venture debt funds (VDFs) have emerged as an alternative source of capital. While VC and VDF may appear similar, there are key differences between the two that entrepreneurs need to understand before choosing a funding route.

What is a Venture Debt Fund?

A venture debt fund is a type of debt financing designed for startups and high-growth companies. Rather than ceding equity to investors, VDFs provide loans that need to be repaid over time. VDFs typically lend money to companies that have, as a precondition, already raised some amount of equity funding from VC investors.

How Does a VDF Differ from a VC Fund?

The main difference between VDF and VC is the type of funding they provide. VC funds typically invest in a startup in exchange for equity, which means they own a portion of the company and share in its success. VDFs, on the other hand, provide loans that need to be paid back with interest. This means that while VDF investors don't obtain equity in the company, they do receive a fixed return on their investment.

Another key difference is the level of risk involved from the perspective of the limited partners in VDFs and VCs. VC funds are high-risk investments, as many startups fail to deliver the expected returns. However, when a VC investment is successful, the returns can be significant. VDFs, on the other hand, are lower-risk investments, as the loans are secured against the assets of the company. This means that even if the company fails, VDF investors are still likely to recoup some of their investment.

VDFs also have lower fees compared to VC funds. VC funds often charge management fees and take a percentage of the profits as a performance fee. VDFs typically charge lower management fees and don't take a percentage of the profits.

Which is Appropriate for Your Business?

Deciding between VC and VDF depends on your business's stage, financial needs, and risk tolerance. VDFs are ideal for startups that have already raised equity funding and are seeking to expand or make acquisitions. They can also be useful for companies seeking to extend their runway without diluting their equity.

VC funding is better suited for early-stage startups that need significant capital to develop their product, scale their business, or enter new markets. VC investors can also provide valuable strategic guidance and industry connections that VDFs may not offer.


VDFs are a valuable source of capital for startups and high-growth companies. While they differ from VC funds in several ways, they offer a lower-risk investment option with lower fees from the investor’s perspective. However, VDFs are not suitable for all businesses and may not provide the same strategic value as VC investors.


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About the author

Sabbir Rahman is Managing Director of Langdon Capital. He has held prior roles with Morgan Stanley, Lazard and Barclays Investment Bank. He has executed over £60 billion in notional value of transactions across financing, M&A and derivatives with global corporates, private equity funds and financial sponsor groups.

About Langdon Capital

Langdon Capital provides in-house transaction services to C-suites and Boards of publicly-listed, PE-backed and VC-backed businesses during the negotiation, execution and due diligence of debt and equity capital raising transactions and senior interim resourcing solutions across finance, treasury, strategy and corporate development | contact | visit

This is not financial advice or any offer, invitation or inducement to sell or provide financial products or services or to engage in any form of investment activity.

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