Do angels/venture capitalists expect you to invest your own capital?


I recently talked with some nice retired business people about startups. They gave me some great help but one thing that they said stuck out and I wanted to confirm or deny it.

I was told that the various forms of venture financing expect you to place down 20% like you would on a house mortgage. My understanding is while this may happen due to "your uncle investing", or while it may happen if say you are a serial investor, etc. And while having such a financial commitment to the company yourself may make your venture enticing to venture capital, the way I have understood it is that this is not the norm.

Generally if say you raise 500k from an angel they expect you to invest nothing save for the work and idea. Can anyone with more experience confirm or deny this? I think it is just they these people were use to working more with the standard small business restaurant/etc where you get your financing in the form of a loan from the bank rather than a high tech but I wanted to make sure I am correct.


Finance Venture Capital Angel

asked Oct 4 '11 at 09:05
David Mokon Bond
234 points
Get up to $750K in working capital to finance your business: Clarify Capital Business Loans

3 Answers


Yes, they usually want to see something besides the idea or core concept. They like to call it 'having skin in the game'. Generally it's enough money to make the Angel feel secure you're going to be focused on getting the best results in order to get your money back (and they'll set liquidation preferences to insure the Angel is paid back first). I've seen conflicting opinions on the sources of capital from the founder's side of things. There is a school of thought that the Angel would prefer it come directly from the founder's resources, while others argue that a founder that has borrowed from family and friends can be equally incentivized to make that 110% effort.

Ultimately, the Angel views the investment of the founder as a representation of their confidence that the business plan is sound.

answered Oct 4 '11 at 12:29
431 points


I've never seen a founder put down nothing- but putting down 20% of the cash, in the aggregate, seems kind of high.

answered Oct 4 '11 at 09:14
1,747 points
  • What is the normal range you have seen? E.g. 5-10k initial legal fees (what I would expect)? Vs. the 100k in the above example? – David Mokon Bond 12 years ago
  • Often enough just to get the business up and running, often by means of a promissory note by which the founder would get repaid by the company. – User6492 12 years ago


It depends on the stage of your business. If you've grown your business for 1 year and already have a solid customer base, you don't need to invest. For an startups at the prototype stage, you are expected to invest 5-10%

I've seen self-investment of 10k then fundraising for 500k, but it was experienced entrepreneur and enterprise investment (by government program)

answered Oct 4 '11 at 09:42
253 points
  • I have never heard that for high-tech startups. A minority of angels insist that you put all your savings in your startup first, to make sure you'll sink like a captain :-) Most professional angels make no such demands. – Alain Raynaud 12 years ago

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