Paste your Bing Webmaster Tools verification code here

The Ultimate Guide to Funding a Startup

The Ultimate Guide to Funding a Startup

The Ultimate Guide to Funding a Startup

In my work as a consultant to entrepreneurs, the issue of startup funding and capital always comes up. I’ve yet to work with an entrepreneur who says ‘I’ve got all the money I need.’ I often refer them to a few of my favourite funding sources and let them take it from there.

I decided to take it a step further and have put together a pretty comprehensive list of funding options for startups, mostly in Canada and the USA. This includes:

  • Traditional crowdfunding sites (e.g. Kickstarter)
  • Equity crowdfunding (sell shares to the crowd)
  • Peer-to-Peer lending
  • Alternative lenders (i.e. alternatives to the banks)

(stick around to the end and you’ll find a bonus option you’ve probably never thought of)

I’ve left out other forms of startup funding, such as:

  • Banks (it’s beyond my scope and ability to list all of the banks and credit unions out there)
  • Angels and VCs (this will be the topic of another post)
  • Friends and family (you know better than I do how to hit them up for $$$).

NOTE: the options in the list below don’t just apply to startups; existing, established businesses can also use most of these options.

NOTE #2: the companies listed below are in no particular order – this is a list post, not a ranking.

Have a look at the list, and if you have any suggestions for options I missed or updates to existing information, please let me know in the comments below.

p.s. I’d love it if you shared this post – it took a really long time to put together!

The Ultimate Startup Funding List

Traditional Crowdfunding Sites

Patreon, a very cool startup funding site to allow you to get ongoing funding for your creative efforts.

Patreon, a very cool funding site to allow you to get ongoing funding for your creative efforts.

  1. Gofundme (Global): GoFundMe personal online fundraising websites are perfect for individuals, groups & organizations! Based in San Diego and Menlo Park, GoFundMe was launched on May 10, 2010 and has quickly become the World’s #1 fundraising site for personal causes and life-events. Millions of people have raised over $1 Billion in the past 365 days.
    • Fees: 5%, Processing fee of 2.9% + $0.30 applies.
    • All-or-nothing: No
  2. Kickstarter (CAN and USA): One of the first crowdfunding platforms, Kickstarter is still one of the biggest. Personal fundraising not allowed. Creative only.
    • Fees: 5%, Processing fees of between 3-5% apply.
    • All-or-nothing: Yes
  3. Indiegogo (Global): Indiegogo is a launchpad for creative and entrepreneurial ideas of every shape and size.
    • Fees: 5%, 3% processing fee. $25 fee for international wire.
    • All-or-nothing: No
  4. Teespring (Global): Design your shirt, set a price, add a goal and start selling. Teespring handles the rest – production, shipping, and customer service – and you keep the profit!
    • Fees: 10%+ (*Fees vary based on t-shirts selected for sale.)
    • All-or-nothing: No
  5. Patreon (USA): Recurring funding for artists and creators. Creators receive millions of dollars each month in support from their patrons. Patreon is a way to get paid for creating the things you’re already creating (webcomics, videos, songs, whatevs). Fans pledge a few bucks per month OR per thing you release, and then you get paid every month, or every time you release something new (whether it’s on SoundCloud, YouTube, your own website, or anywhere). Creative projects only.
    • Fees: 5%, Must pledge an on-going amount. Additional processing fee of 4%
    • All-or-nothing: No
  6. YouCaring (Global): At YouCaring, we focus on compassionate crowdfunding, making it free—and easy—to support personal and charitable causes. YouCaring is dedicated to compassionate crowdfunding, providing free and easy online fundraising and support for humanitarian causes.
    • Fees: none (Processing fee of 2.9% + $0.30 per donation applies)
    • All-or-nothing: No
  7. CrowdRise (Global): CrowdRise is the world’s #1 fundraising site for charitable and personal causes. Raise money for friends who need help, marathons and events, and over 1.5 million charities.
    • Fees: Free accounts charge 5%, paid accounts are 3%. Processing fee of 2.9% + $0.30 applies.
    • All-or-nothing: No
  8. Kiva (Global): Kiva is a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.
    • Fees: 15% fee is suggested to campaign micro-lenders. Processing fee of 2.9% + $0.30 applies.
    • All-or-nothing: No
  9. GiveForward (USA): GiveForward is the first place to turn when you or someone you love is facing a challenge. It’s the central rallying place for giving and receiving meaningful support. From sending a simple “Thinking of You” to raising money for out-of-pocket expenses, GiveForward empowers anyone to build a community and take action when it counts.
    • Fees: 5% fee is charged to campaign creators. Processing fee of 2.9% + $0.50 per transaction applies.
    • All-or-nothing: No
  10. Fundable (USA): Fundable helps companies get crowdfunded. They’ve built the largest business crowdfunding platform dedicated exclusively to helping companies raise capital.
    • Fees: $179/month
    • All-or-nothing: Yes
  11. RocketHub (USA): RocketHub is the world’s crowdfunding machine. RocketHub is an international, pioneering, open community that has helped thousands of artists, scientists, entrepreneurs, and social leaders raise millions of dollars.
    • Fees:
      • Reach your goal: 4% commission fee + 4% credit card handling fee
      • Don’t reach your goal: 8% commission fee + 4% credit card handling fee

Take my 7-day 'Change the World' entrepreneurship course - FREE!

Enter your email address and you'll get access to this 7-day e-course, with 1 powerful email in your inbox every morning, to help you change the world!

Awesome! Take a look in your inbox in 28 seconds for further instructions.

Equity Crowdfunding Sites

Seedups.ca, the newest entry to the equity crowdfunding scene, now finally in Canada!

Seedups.ca, the newest entry to the equity crowdfunding scene, now finally in Canada!

Unlike traditional crowdfunding, equity crowdfunding sites allow you to sell actual shares of your company (as opposed to products/services) to ‘the crowd’. In several of these cases, you can get around the accredited investor requirement and sell to non-accredited investors, which opens up the door to some amazing possibilities.

  1. AngelList (USA): US website for raising equity or debt investments for startups. Only accredited investors can invest at the time of writing.
    • Fees:
      • The total out-of-pocket costs for each fund are estimated to be $50,000 or more.
      • A typical carry for an individual investment is 20%. 15% of that carry goes to the lead investor of the syndicate and 5% goes to AngelList.
    • Minimum raise required:
      • The minimum investment for a lead who is investing her own money is generally 2.5% of the amount that the syndicate raises from individual investors.
      • The minimum investment for a lead who is investing out of a fund raised from limited partners is generally 20% of the amount that the syndicate raises from individual investors.
    • Maximum raise allowed: n/a
  2. Fundable (USA): is a crowdfunding platform that offers both rewards-based and equity-based campaigns for small businesses.
    • Fees: $179 per Month to Fundraise
    • Minimum raise required: $1,000
    • Maximum raise allowed: None
  3. Seedups (CAN): Canadian equity crowdfunding platform for accredited, eligible and ordinary investors.
    • Fees: $1500 fee plus 5% of investment.
    • Minimum raise required: $100,000
    • Maximum raise allowed: $1,500,000
  4. CircleUp (USA): CircleUp helps consumer entrepreneurs and investors do what they do, better. It is an equity-based crowdfunding site based in San Francisco.
    • Fees: There is no initial charge to apply to CircleUp. If approved to be listed on the site, CircleUp will generally assess a commission based on a percentage of the total amount raised.
    • Minimum raise required: n/a
    • Maximum raise allowed: n/a
  5. Crowdfunder (Global): A global social network for equity and contribution crowdfunding for small businesses, startups and social enterprises. Crowdfunder is an all-or-nothing platform and campaigns are recommended to set multiple rounds of financing. This increases the likelihood that you will get funded through earlier rounds with smaller amounts but it also increases the risk to investors. Companies looking for seed funding or proof-of-concept may still be years and multiple financing rounds away from any sales or profits. Campaigns are able to set their own deadline up to the 60-day maximum.
    • Fees: A monthly fee starting at $299 is charged on all projects. Crowdfunder charges a 5% fee on successfully funded campaigns. Payments are only offered through Amazon Payments which charges a 2.9% fee and a $0.30 transaction fee.
    • Minimum raise required: $5,000
    • Maximum raise allowed: $100,000
  6. Wefunder (USA): “We help everyone invest in startups. It’s like Kickstarter, but with equity.”
    • Fees:
      • 10% carried interest
      • $50 per investor for self-service fundraising platform
      • Up-front 4% fee for investor
      • 5%-2% administrative fees
    • Minimum raise required: $100
    • Maximum raise allowed: None
  7. Equity Net (USA): EquityNet is a recognized pioneer of crowdfunding and has operated one of the largest business crowdfunding platforms since 2005. The multi-patented EquityNet platform includes over 100,000 individual entrepreneurs and investors, incubators, government support entities, and other members of the entrepreneurial community. EquityNet provides access to thousands of investors and has helped entrepreneurs across North America raise hundreds of millions in equity, debt, and royalty-based capital.
    • Fees: Much of EquityNet is free, without the need for a credit card. However, certain features require a paid subscription. Paid subscriptions start at $600 for 3 months and can be seen in your account.
    • Minimum raise required: $200,000+
    • Maximum raise allowed: $1M
  8. RockThePost / OneVest (USA): is an equity crowdfunding platform that connects high quality entrepreneurs with accredited investors interested to invest in exciting new start-up companies.
    • Fees: free of management fees or carried interest.
    • Minimum raise required: $5,000
    • Maximum raise allowed: $20-30K
  9. FundersClub (USA): Invest in the world’s most promising startups. Diversify your investment portfolio with insider access to highly vetted startups from Silicon Valley and beyond in just minutes. FundersClub envisions a world where startups that move the world forward more efficiently secure the funding and support they need to innovate and thrive, and where more people benefit from their rise.
    • Fees:
      • Single-company fund terms range from 1% to 30% carry
      • Multi-company fund terms range from 1% to 30% carry and an average annual management fee of 0.25% to 3%
    • Minimum raise required:
      • Single-company fund: $3,000
      • Multi-company, Theme series fund: $5,000
      • Multi-company, Accelerate series fund: $10,000
    • Maximum raise allowed: None

Peer-to-Peer Lending

Lending Loop, a new Canadian entry to the peer-to-peer lending scene.

Lending Loop, a new Canadian entry to the peer-to-peer lending scene.

Peer-to-peer lending allows members of the public (the ‘crowd’) to donate small to medium amounts directly to businesses listed on their sites. Typically the loan rate – and rate of return for the lender – is based on the assessed level of risk of the business. i.e. the safer the business, the lower the loan rate and rate of return for the lender.

  1. Lending Club (USA): Lending Club is the world’s largest online marketplace connecting borrowers and investors. We’re transforming the banking system to make credit more affordable and investing more rewarding. We operate at a lower cost than traditional bank lending programs and pass the savings on to borrowers in the form of lower rates and to investors in the form of solid returns.
    • Loan rates: 00% and 5.00% of the loan amount
    • Maximum term amount: 25 months
    • Maximum loan amount: $300,000
  2. Upstart (USA): A SMARTER LOAN. YOU EARNED IT. You are more than your credit score. On Upstart your education and experience help you get the rate you deserve.
    • Loan rates: Interest rates are determined based on each individual’s education, credentials, work experience and credit. The range is 4.0% – 26.06% for 3-year loans and 6.0% – 27.32% for 5-year loans.
    • Maximum term amount: 5 years
    • Maximum loan amount: $35,000
  3. Prosper (USA): Prosper provides investors direct, low cost access to high-yield consumer loans from creditworthy borrowers. Prosper is America’s first peer-to-peer lending marketplace, with more than 2 million members and over $5 billion in funded loans.
    • Loan rates: APR (Annual Percentage Rate) starting at 5.99% for best borrowers. Rates from 5.99% to 36.00% APR
    • Maximum term amount: 5 years
    • Maximum loan amount: $35,000
  4. Peerform (USA): Peerform is an innovative marketplace lending platform. Simply put, Cross River Bank (the lender) brings together borrowers and investors through the Peerform website. Since the platform is internet based, we can keep costs as low as possible, and therefore interest rates lower than the average credit card or personal loan can be offered with the ease of doing everything from your computer. All this translates into lower monthly payments for the borrower along with a well-vetted choice of investment opportunities that provide favorable risk-adjusted returns for the investor.
    • Loan rates:
      • Fixed rates (7.12 % to 29.99 % APR*)
      • The Origination fee, or activation fee, is a fee that Cross River Bank charges for processing the loan application and putting the loan in place. Depending on your rate, this fee is anywhere between 1% to 5% of the principal and it is deducted at the time the loan is transferred to your bank account. There are no other fees imposed if you do not receive a loan.
    • Maximum term amount: 3 years
    • Maximum loan amount: $25,000
  5. CircleBack Lending (USA): CircleBack Lending… provides prime consumers in the United States with a fast and efficient way to borrow money at attractive interest rates.
    • Loan rates: APRs range from 6.63% to 35.18%. The lowest APR available for a loan term of 60 months is 12.88%.
    • Maximum term amount: 60 months
    • Maximum loan amount: $35,000
  6. SoFi (USA): SoFi is a modern finance company that’s fueling the shift to a bankless world. Our radical approach delivers unprecedented services for lending and wealth management. We evaluate applicants based on a holistic view of their financial well-being rather than a three digit score. Whether our members are looking to refinance their student loans, buy their dream home, or simply seek advice as they ascend in their careers, SoFi provides the best products and tools to match their ambitions and propel them to new levels of financial greatness. (NOTE: while SoFi doesn’t offer business financing, per se, you could use one of their personal loans to finance a business)
    • Loan rates: A cap on a variable rate loan is a maximum limit on the interest rate that you can be charged, regardless of how much the index interest rate changes. Currently, interest rates for SoFi variable rate student loans are capped at 8.95% or 9.95%, depending on the term, and SoFi variable rate personal loans are capped at 11.49%, which means no matter how high interest rates rise, you won’t pay more than those rates. SoFi variable rate mortgages are also capped to limit the change in payments year-over-year.
    • Maximum term amount: 7 years
    • Maximum loan amount: $100,000
  7. Pave (USA): Based in New York City, we’re on a mission to remove a major obstacle young people face: access to affordable funding. We’re starting with the Pave loan. Our technology enables us to give young people the most affordable rate by looking beyond their credit score to who they are and where they’re going. Pave makes credit accessible and affordable to young people, and that mission guides everything we do. We enable the success of young people by connecting them to affordable funding to further their education, relocate for their dream career or get their finances back on track. (NOTE: while Pave doesn’t offer business financing, per se, you could use one of their personal loans to finance a business)
    • Loan rates: Range from 6.02 – 21.67% with an origination fee of 1 – 6%
    • Maximum term amount: 3 years
    • Maximum loan amount: $25,000
  8. Funding Circle (USA): Funding Circle is the world’s leading marketplace exclusively focused on small businesses — more than $2bn has been lent to 12,000 businesses in the UK, USA, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. Today, businesses can borrow directly from a wide range of investors, including more than 43,000 people, the UK Government, local councils, a university and a number of financial organizations.
    • Loan rates:
      • Rates starting at 5.49%.
      • Origination fee ranges from 1.49% – 4.99%
    • Maximum term amount: 5 years
    • Maximum loan amount: $500,000
  9. BorrowersFirst (USA): Our name says it all. We provide personal loans, and give our customers the lowest rates possible. We spend less to save you more.
    • Loan rates:
      • Interest rates range from 5.99% to 26.99% per year.
      • All loans are subject to a non-refundable one-time origination fee of 1-5%.
      • The APR includes the interest rate and the origination fee. The APR ranges from 6.66% to 29.99%.
    • Maximum term amount: 5 years
    • Maximum loan amount: $35,000
  10. Lending Loop (CAN): Canada’s first peer-to-peer lending marketplace
    • Loan rates: 6-15.5% plus 3.5% to 5.5% completion fee upon loan acceptance
    • Maximum term amount: 60 months
    • Maximum loan amount: $500,000

Alternative Small Business Lenders

OnDeck, one of the leading alternative lenders in Canada and the USA

OnDeck, one of the leading alternative lenders in Canada and the USA

The following are alternatives to banks (many of which don’t lend to the typical startup) for traditional debt financing such as term loans and lines of credit.

NOTE: I highly recommend getting set up with a line of credit (LOC) – either via your bank or one of the options below – as soon as possible. A line of credit can help you weather periods of low cash flow, emergencies, market fluctuations, etc. and is also available if you want to use it for expanding your operations. Typically they don’t cost anything if you’re not carrying a balance, so they’re a total no-brainer.

Apply for a small LOC (e.g. $1000) to start, then if you’re accepted, use it periodically but pay off the balance and use it responsibly. Later (e.g. 6 months) you can apply to have your credit limit increased, and as long as you keep using it responsibly your lender will often increase the limit for you. This can be crucial for when times get tough (and they will get tough) – you don’t want to be asking for a LOC when you’re staring bankruptcy in the face (you won’t get it).

  1. CAN Capital (USA): CAN Capital is the largest source of alternative funding for small businesses in the United States. The status of ‘largest source of alternative funding’ comes from their years of experience in the industry and streamlined application process. Since 1998, CAN Capital has provided over $5.5 billion in capital to small business, assisting 65,000 small and medium-sized businesses throughout North America.
    • Types of financing: short term loan, long term loan
    • Loan rates: 59%-158%
    • Fees: Origination fee is 0%
    • Maximum loan term: 24 months
    • Maximum loan amount: $150,000
  2. OnDeck (USA/CAN/AUS): Term Loans up to $500,000 and Lines of Credit up to $100,000
    • Types of financing: line of credit, short-term loans, long-term loans
    • Loan rates:9.9% to 36%
    • Fees: $20 monthly maintenance fee on lines of credit (waived if you draw at least $5000 in first month), 0-2.5% loan ‘origination’ fee on short and longterm loans
    • Maximum loan term: 36 months
    • Maximum loan amount: $500,000
  3. Kabbage (Global): Kabbage is an online lender that provides alternative small business loans. It is based in Atlanta, Georgia, and was established in 2009. It has funded over $500 million to small businesses. As an online lender, Kabbage provides loans to businesses across the country.
    • Types of financing: line of credit
    • Loan rates: 5%-40%
    • Fees:
      • Fees ranges from 1% to 13.5% for the first two months and then 1% for the remainder of the term.
      • Origination fee is 1%
    • Maximum loan term: 12 months
    • Maximum loan amount: $100,000
  4. Lending Club (USA): Lending Club is the world’s largest online marketplace connecting borrowers and investors. We’re transforming the banking system to make credit more affordable and investing more rewarding. We operate at a lower cost than traditional bank lending programs and pass the savings on to borrowers in the form of lower rates and to investors in the form of solid returns.
    • Types of financing: refinancing loan, expansion loan
    • Loan rates: Interest rates start at 5.9%
    • Fees: Origination fee ranges between 0.99% – 5.99%
    • Maximum loan term: 5 years
    • Maximum loan amount: $300,000
  5. Swift Capital (USA): Swift Capital is an independent provider of short-term funding, specializing in merchant cash advances. Swift Capital was funded in 2007 by CEO Ed Harycki. After decades of working in the banking industry, Harycki found that business owners were constantly struggling to access fast and simple working capital, and he wanted to create a quick and simple system for businesses to obtain funding.
    • Types of financing: short-term loan
    • Loan rates: Not disclosed
    • Fees:
      • Quotes and application process are completely free.
      • One-time premium fee on cash advances (between 9.9%–24.9%)
    • Maximum loan term: 12 months
    • Maximum loan amount: $300,000
  6. Funding Circle (USA/UK): Funding Circle is an alternative source for business loans in the United States and U.K. The founders are small business owners that found it difficult to navigate traditional and alternative lending resources. After they applied for and were rejected from their 96th loan, they set out to build a solution for small business owners in 2010. Today, Funding Circle has generated $1 billion in loans to help small business owners.
    • Types of financing:
    • Loan rates: 99% – 4.99%
    • Fees: Origination fee is 0%
    • Maximum loan term: 5 years
    • Maximum loan amount: $500,000
  7. Credibility Capital (USA): Helping established small businesses grow through fast, affordable loans.
    • Types of financing: term loan
    • Loan rates: interest rates from 8-20%
    • Fees: one-time origination fee to cover the cost of servicing and processing, ranging from 2% to 6% depending on the amount of the loan.
    • Maximum loan term: 3 years
    • Maximum loan amount: $250,000
  8. SnapCap (USA): SnapCap is committed to increasing small business access to credit, delivering complete and transparent information, and respecting our clients. We understand that working with an alternative lender can be scary because it’s a new concept in this industry, which is why we are 100% dedicated to confidentiality and providing a fast and secure lending process.
    • Types of financing: working capital loans, expansion loans, inventory loans, equipment loans
    • Loan rates: SnapCap’s loans have a fixed interest rate, but you’ll need to speak with one of their representatives as the company does not list specific rates on its site.
    • Fees: Not disclosed
    • Maximum loan term: 18 months
    • Maximum loan amount: $250,000
  9. Balboa Capital (USA): Balboa Capital is one of the largest independent financing companies in the United States. Balboa Capital’s comprehensive financing capabilities include equipment leasing, commercial financing, vendor programs, franchise financing and working capital solutions. Balboa Capital is the trusted resource of many thousands of businesses across all industries throughout the United States. We are recognized for our technology-driven financing solutions, rapid funding, innovative marketing tools and exceptional customer service.
    • Types of financing: line of credit, short term loan, working capital loan, flexible business loan
    • Loan rates: Interest APR ranges to 4%-8%
    • Fees: Origination fee is 0%
    • Maximum loan term: 84 months
    • Maximum loan amount: $250,000
  10. Dealstruck (USA): Is a lending platform that provides alternative business loans to small businesses. It is relatively new, having been established in 2013. It has provided over $5 million in funding to small businesses. Its aim is to help businesses move away from short-term, high-cost financing toward more conventional bank financing.
    • Types of financing: line of credit, short term loan
    • Loan rates: Interest rate between 14 % and 19%
    • Fees: Origination fee of between 3% and 4%
    • Maximum loan term: 36 months
    • Maximum loan amount: Offers loans up to $250,000 and lines of credit up to $500,000

BONUS: Business Barter

Money is not the only funding option to move your business forward. One commonly overlooked strategy for financing start-up growth is the Barter Economy. Take for example a new co-working start-up that needs logo design. A professionally designed brand can run as high as $1,500 to $3,000, but paying for design services with a few months’ use of dedicated desks at your co-working space could ease the financial burden and conserve your cash.

Barter gives you the freedom to access a wide-range of business services even when you are working with a lean budget. In US and Canada, there are a number of barter options including swapping sites, Time Banks, Craigslist’s barter section, and commercial trading networks that utilize trade dollars. Then there are do-it-yourself approaches within your own network.

Here are two great bartering websites that can really help you access services that you might not otherwise be able to afford with cash payments:

Swapsity B2B (CAN): Swapsity B2B is a Toronto-based social enterprise that offers a highly personalized business barter matchmaking service. They set up mutually beneficial value-for-value service exchanges for entrepreneurs (e.g. a promotional video for accounting help, a new website for dental services, marketing for administrative assistant), conserving your precious cash and time. They attentively take care of all the heavy-lifting—vetting entrepreneurs, finding win-win matches, setting up the barter arrangement—enabling business owners to fully benefit from the fruits of the exchange.

  • Fees: 5% to 10% (tiered pricing depending on the value of the exchange). Membership is free.
  • Minimums: Minimal trade value of $750 for current clients, $500 for new clients.

BarterQuest (USA): New-York based BarterQuest is a marketplace for bartering of goods, services, and real estate among individuals and businesses. BarterQuest employs proprietary technology which instantly matches the haves and wants of users for both two party and multi-party trades. Their users can barter internationally or locally.

Fees: Optional verification fee of $9.99, redemption fee: 3.0% of points value + $1.00

 

Well, that’s it for my pretty darn comprehensive list of startup funding options. Have any suggestions for options I missed? Updates to existing information? Please let me know in the comments below, and hey… I’d love it if you shared this post – it took a long time to put together!

Take my 7-day 'Change the World' entrepreneurship course - FREE!

Enter your email address and you'll get access to this 7-day e-course, with 1 powerful email in your inbox every morning, to help you change the world!

Awesome! Take a look in your inbox in 28 seconds for further instructions.

About the author

Mike Brcic

Mike Brcic

Mike is the founder of The Social Entrepreneur as well as the founder and Chief Happiness Officer at Sacred Rides, the "#1 Mountain Bike Tour Company on Earth" (National Geographic Adventure). He is also an advisor and consultant for entrepreneurs looking to make a positive dent on history.