While venture capital investments can vary in countless aspects, one thing remains the same: They’re unpredictable.
Risk-taking is at the core of venture capital, and sometimes that risk can pay off in a big way. Other times, it can result in a problematic situation that requires a concerted effort to turn things around. So how do you handle these two extremes – restoring a struggling, but possibly valuable investment, and exploiting a highly successful one?
Let’s look at both ends of the spectrum separately.
The losing investments
I recently had a venture capital client who had invested in a small software company that was essentially bleeding cash. The business had been in his portfolio for five years and had real customers and revenue, but profitability was lagging. The investor didn’t want to shut it down, but he also didn’t want to continue writing checks to barely keep it above water.
The company clearly had value, but the investor needed to know exactly how to derive that value – and how to stop the bleeding.
Although a so-called “purgatory” investment like this might have the potential to be valuable in the future, investors tend to view it as a drain on their resources, especially if there’s no clear end in sight. A decision needs to be made, with the investor’s choice of action ultimately tipping the tables toward success or failure.
When a venture reaches this point, investors have four options:
1. Sell the company: Ideally, you would sell the company to a strategic buyer who is interested because of the value the company adds to their own organization. This type of buyer can be hard to come by, but they are not infrequently found among a business’s competition or current customer base. Approaching possible buyers in this arena can be