The True Cost of Venture Debt and Alternatives to Consider

Discover the true cost of venture debt and explore alternatives to consider in our latest blog post. Learn about the different types of warrants associated with venture debt and understand the implications they have on your business's future capital raising and lending decisions.

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In the space of business financing, Venture Debt can be a popular source of capital for growing consumer brands, especially when traditional equity financing can be hard to come by. They can offer brands unique opportunities for growth and expansion and can interest brands who are aiming to grow rapidly. But when it comes to venture debt, understanding the intricacies of warrants can be crucial. They play a significant role in not only the financial arrangement, but also any future capital raising or lending decisions your company decides to take.

The types of warrants offered can vary depending on the specific terms negotiated between the borrower and the lender. Here, we’ll explore the different types of warrants commonly associated with venture debt and shed some light on some of the complexities involved.

What is a warrant?

A warrant grants a holder the right to buy a specific number of shares of the company’s stock at a predetermined price within a specific period of time. They are typically issued by the companies and serve as a form of incentive or compensation to the holder in exchange for working capital. 

There are three common types of warrants tied to venture debt that all come with their own benefits and limitations.

Traditional Equity Warrants

These are the most common type of warrants associated with venture debt. They give the lender the right to purchase a specific number of shares in the borrower's company at a predetermined price within a specified time frame. Equity warrants provide the lender with the opportunity to benefit from the future growth and success of the borrower.

Phantom Warrants

Phantom warrants, also known as synthetic warrants or cash-settled warrants, do not grant actual ownership in the company. Instead, they entitle the lender to a cash payment equivalent to the value of the warrant upon exercise. This approach allows the lender to participate in the upside potential without actually owning equity.

Warrant Coverage

Some venture debt agreements may include a provision called "warrant coverage." This means that a certain percentage of the loan amount is automatically convertible into equity at the time of funding. Warrant coverage effectively provides the lender with an immediate equity stake in the borrower's company.

Potential Drawbacks

While warrants can be advantageous for both the lender and the borrower, it’s important to be mindful of potential drawbacks. These can be detrimental to your business and can impede future opportunities for raising capital and securing working capital:

  1. Dilution of Ownership - by issuing warrants, the borrower dilutes its ownership stake in the company. This can impact future fundraising efforts and decision-making control within the organization. It is crucial for borrowers to carefully evaluate the potential impact of warrants on their ownership structure.
  2. Increased Cost of Capital - warrants are often seen as an additional cost of financing. While venture debt may have lower interest rates compared to other forms of debt, the inclusion of warrants can offset these savings. The value of warrants is factored into the overall cost of capital for the borrower.
  3. Future Financing Implications - the presence of warrants may affect the terms and conditions of future financing rounds. Potential investors may view existing warrants as an additional layer of risk or may negotiate more favorable terms due to the dilution they cause. Borrowers need to consider the impact of warrants on their ability to secure future funding.
  4. Complexities and Negotiations - the terms and conditions of warrants can be complex and require negotiations between the lender and the borrower. Legal and administrative complexities may arise when structuring and managing warrants, which can consume time and resources.


Venture debt can provide valuable capital for consumer brands, but it is crucial for brands to thoroughly assess the implications and trade-offs associated with warrants before entering into a venture debt agreement. Dilution of ownership, increased cost of capital, and future financing implications are all factors that require some careful consideration. Seeking guidance with legal and financial advisors experienced in venture debt transactions can help borrowers navigate the complexities and make informed decisions about the inclusion of warrants in their financing arrangements.

Mike Grillo

Michael (Mike) Grillo is an advertising and marketing industry veteran who currently serves as VP of Marketing at Ampla. Prior to Ampla, Mike was the Head of Consumer Products and Retail at Calm, the #1 App for Meditation and Sleep and co-founder and CEO of Gravity Products, home to the world-famous Gravity Blanket. Under Mike's leadership, Gravity was named one of Time Magazine's Best Inventions (2018) and Entrepreneur Magazine's 100 Brilliant Companies. The brand was ultimately acquired by WIN Brands Group in 2021. Mike is an angel investor and advisor to several NYC-based start-ups, including Ampla Technologies.

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