The firm, led by Melissa Widner, CEO, was founded in 2010 and has since provided hundreds of millions dollars in financing via more than 1,100 rounds of growth capital without startups having to sell equity. It also surpassed $350 million in growth capital.
Lighter Capital designed its revenue-based financing model for tech companies in the SaaS, technology services, subscription services and digital media sectors that already have revenue and are growing. It offers adaptable payment terms, term financing featuring fixed monthly payments and contract financing.
Today, Lighter Capital is the latest firm to raise funding of its own — $130 million in capital commitments for a credit facility. The facility is backed by existing investors Apollo Global Management, i80 Group, Invest Victoria and iPartners, an Australian private credit fund.
Alternative financing is a hot topic right now, and there are a number of companies in the U.S. offering revenue-based financing to SaaS companies, including Capchase, Pipe, Founderpath, Arc and, most recently, Efficient Capital Labs.
This is for a few reasons: One, which has been widely reported, is that venture capitalists pulled back on their funding in the past year. And two, more company founders are more aware that alternative financing is an option for them, especially following the Silicon Valley Bank collapse, Widner told TechCrunch.
“One of the biggest challenges has been just educating companies that there is an alternative to dilutive financing,” she said. “Venture capital firms fund a really small percentage of technology companies, like 1% of technology companies, so in the last few years, people are starting to understand that you actually can get funding other than going down the VC path.”
As a result, Lighter Capital saw more companies come to it that would have otherwise gone to a VC firm. Widner, who was a VC herself for two decades, said some companies didn’t want to do a priced round in this market or were looking for non-dilutive funding. In addition, the firm was seeing companies come in already in pretty good shape, with around 24 months of runway, but wanted some extra cushion in the challenging economic times.
Widner described the firm’s inbound funnel as “exploding,” which led to 2022 being Lighter Capital’s “largest year ever in the history of the company.”
The proceeds from Lighter Capital’s new financing vehicle is expected to fund hundreds of early-stage companies across the U.S., Canada and Australia. It provides financing from $50,000 to $4 million with an average financing of $600,000.
“SaaS revenue is generally predictable,” Widner said. “We’ve spent more than a decade building technology to be able to predict a company's revenue, and we typically do a better job at predicting their revenue than companies do. Our financing rounds, or loans, are typically three years, so we're actually looking at being able to predict if the company's revenue is going to be sufficient to pay back the capital in three years.”