Why Do Investors Keep Funding Unprofitable Startups?

Why Do Investors Keep Funding Unprofitable Startups

You’ve probably heard the cautionary tales of startups that have failed to take off. The stories are often accompanied by a moral, “don’t invest in something just because it’s cool.”  

However, investors keep funding these companies despite the high rate of failure. Why? Because they believe that one or two successes will more than makeup for all the losses.

A new study found that investors are willing to fund startups with no profits hoping that they will be successful. The report surveyed 2,000 venture capitalists and asked them about their investment strategies. 

It found that 46% of VCs have invested in companies with no earnings before to take a chance on an innovative idea or company. Among the 1,500 interviewed who had invested in at least one startup without any profitability, 59% said they did so because they believed these ventures could become profitable down the road. 

Investors start investing before a startup is profitable because they think it has the potential to be significant. Of course, investing in new and young companies can be risky, but the rewards are potentially huge. 

funding raised by d2c startups in the us 2021
Two of the best-funded D2C startups in America are Grove Collaborative, a company that specializes in environmentally friendly home products, and Everlane clothing manufacturer. The first round of funding for these companies came from investors who were excited about their mission to make sustainable living accessible.

The investors of past winners like Uber and SpaceX speak of “re-investability.” This means that if an investor gets lucky enough with the first bet he makes, he will then pour that money into subsequent startups with solid prospects for growth.

There are four main ways to fund an unprofitable startup – bootstrapping, donations, loans/debt, and outsourced work. These categories are not mutually inclusive; all four can be accomplished simultaneously (i.e., the company continues to run while funding is obtained).

  1. Bootstrapping – Bootstrapping a startup is an investment in the company’s long-term viability. Every dollar you invest in the company is worth more than a dollar of outside investment because it can be used for something that will generate future earnings, payable with dividends. The underlying goal of bootstrapping is beginning your new venture with as little capital as possible before finding outside investments, ideally after initial validation.
  1. Donations – The benefits of receiving donations for a startup are that it allows founders to build an innovative product or service. The funding can come from various sources, such as crowdfunding, grants, venture capital, or investors.
  1. Loans/debt – There are many benefits that come with the receiving of loans for a startup. For one, adding fresh capital to any business is crucial in order to progress. The most important thing about this type of loan is that they provide the borrower with more financial capacity for independent preparations and planning than would be possible were it not for these loans.
  1. Outsourced work – The biggest benefit, in the long run, is that you will be able to produce more in general by utilizing outsourced resources which allow work on multiple projects at once. Outsourcing also saves you resources like time, money, space and energy because when something needs to be done they can take care of it without their boundaries or locality restrictions hindering them.

The best thing for an unprofitable company to do is to grow its user base. Once this has been achieved, it will be easier to monetize because the number of active users is more significant, and more potential customers are on the horizon.

Furthermore, as Facebook and Gmail show us today, you don’t need revenue for a service to be hugely successful; indeed, many people prefer instant messaging services with no ads and spam-filtering abilities.

Let’s look into examples of great companies like Facebook or Google, which some investors might dismiss as too risky or doomed from the outset (since they were yet unprofitable). We see that those companies needed their initial funding to survive until they had grown.

The benefits of funding unprofitable startups are plentiful, but it’s essential to have a plan in place before you get started. Investors often support startups that have a lot of potential but not enough capital. 

It’s essential for all of us who want to see more startups succeed that we find new ways to finance these businesses during their early stages when they may not yet have had time or resources to build up significant earnings. 

One such idea comes from two economists at Yale University who recently proposed an equity crowdfunding platform called Venture Lab where people could invest in unprofitable startups with small amounts of money while receiving shares in those companies as compensation if they become successful later on down the line. 

This model could potentially help many entrepreneurs access funding so long as investors are willing to take some risk – and offer them capital today before profit.

How Do Loss-making Companies Survive

There are two types of companies in the business world: those that make a profit and those that don’t. If you’re in the second category, it doesn’t mean your company is doomed to failure.

There are many ways to generate revenue, but there is no substitute for profits. Loss-making companies must survive by developing new products or services, increasing efficiencies, and reducing costs. 

But what happens when all these options have been exhausted? How do they stay afloat? It’s often said that the only way to make money in business is from making a profit – at least one can’t last long without it! 

However, this isn’t always the case; some businesses deliberately choose not to pursue profitability because of their missions (charities) or because they’re backed by investors who don’t care about profits as long as growth continues.

When the company is profitable, it can reinvest its money back to grow and become even better. If the company generates a profit, but it’s not enough to cover all of its debts or other obligations to creditors, it becomes what we call a “going concern.”

Under these circumstances, the company may undergo an operational restructuring to maximize its future, likely to be successful and profitable.

  1. Identify the product that the company in question is most well-known for. 
  1. Do market research to find out if there are alternatives people are more likely to give money to, for this specific type of company’s main product. If so, shift focus away from this particular type of company’s main product and aim solely towards another, promising area of business. 
  1. Announce a new product or shift in focus entirely so that the public doesn’t have time to notice any issues with quality control or changes in management. 
  1. Hire someone with experience in mass-production who is skilled at doing an efficient job quickly.

Loss-making companies can survive by taking the time to figure out their strengths. Identify what you are good at and make sure that is reflected in your marketing strategy. 

You’ll be able to tell if it’s working because you’ll see an increase in sales, traffic, or engagement statistics online! Once you know your core competencies, focus on them and invest more resources into those business areas. 

It might take a little longer than trying something new but investing in who you already will give hope for the future and increased revenue streams today. 

This way of thinking about loss making companies means they can prolong – not avoid – going under until someone else buys them out or finds another path forward.

The most important thing to do is adjust your mindset about what it means for a company to be profitable. In other words, don’t let the “L” word get in the way of taking action and making changes that will save you from going under. You have options available – take advantage!

Why Invest In A Loss-making Company

Many investors are hesitant to invest in a company that is not profitable. However, there are many reasons why investing in a loss-making company may be beneficial for your business.

Three reasons why you should consider investing in a loss-making company:

  1. Sometimes when companies are in the red, it’s just because they’re investing heavily in research or expansion. There are cases where they go on to become incredibly profitable later with that money that was put into expenses with no returns yet.
  1. It might be riskier than buying shares in an already profitable company but you could still get lucky and find a diamond-in-the-rough making money right before your eyes. 
  1. There may be some kind of rare opportunity in the company with low investment cost so it has higher stakes if you suddenly get pushed out by your partner raising the risk too high for your stomach (plus very high odds of losses is always worth it if there’s even a chance for big results).

Investing in a company with long-term success is always a good idea, and this is most likely why you’re looking to invest in a loss-making company.

Look for:

  • CEO’s previous successes (the more recent the better).
  • A solid financial history, including publishing all necessary information such as Long Term Financial Plan Income Statement; Balance Sheet; Cash Flow Statement; Ratio Analysis (ratios such as Price/Earnings, Debt/Equity); and Quarterly Performance Report or Trend Statements.
  • The quality leadership team who founded the business has plenty of experience in the job they do.

An investor who has at least some understanding of what they’re doing can take a look at a struggling company and figure out whether the losses are the result of unfortunate circumstances (e.g., drought, market downturn) or terrible decisions (e.g., buying too many raw materials, taking on too much debt) and making an informed decision as to where to invest their capital accordingly.

The critical thing to keep in mind is that value investing requires a long-term perspective. To support, it is essential to have patience and wait for the company’s situation to improve, since it will be likely for this stock simply because of its low price due to being loss-making.

According to the investment philosophies used by many of the most successful professional investors, if a company continues operating as usual but with a lower rate of return on assets, then it is not a good enough reason not to invest in them just because they are looking at losses. Despite taking losses year after year, they may eventually recover and become profitable again.

When a company is in the red, it might be tempting to run away. But what you may not know is that investing early on could have big payoffs down the road. 

Suppose an entrepreneur has a great idea and needs capital for research or other expenses. In that case, venture capitalists can provide them with just enough money to get their business off the ground. In these cases, investors should expect some return, but they’re willing to take more risks because they stand to gain from any success if their investment pays out in dividends later on.

Benefits Of Running A Business At A Loss

What if I told you that there are benefits to running a business at a loss? That’s right, the trade-off of losing money in the short term for long-term gains is worth it.  

For example, businesses may find themselves investing in things like marketing and advertising even if they’re not profitable yet. When their product starts making more money, they’ll already have the customers and brand recognition they need to keep growing.

Running your company on fumes can be risky. Still, if you can make the right decisions on how to spend your funds, you will gain experience running your own business and reap the benefits of running a profitable company in the future.

Running a business at a loss can have some benefits because it keeps competitors from invading their niche market. Since it doesn’t cost anything, running at a loss allows you to focus your resources elsewhere where it might be financially profitable, like marketing or customer service, which could pay off later with increased sales and new customers.

Running a business at a loss can be worth it to get ahead of the competition in growth. Many people think running their company at break-even or in the black is always the quickest way. 

However, fledgling businesses are often less profitable due to slower capital input, reduced efficiency, and reduced profitability. Most studies have found that you should keep losses below 33% per year to avoid liquidity problems.

Running your business at a loss will help you save up enough money to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. Being able to act quickly is critical in the world of entrepreneurship, and starting with less can give you an edge over competitors who are already established. The benefits of running a company at a deficit seem pretty clear cut – if done right, it may be one way for small businesses to grow into big ones!

Why Might Investors Be Willing To Buy Shares In A Company Which Is Loss-making?

An investor may be willing to buy shares in a loss-making company for many reasons, not all of them financial.

In the short term, shareholders (owners) are usually rewarded with dividends, contributing to shareholder returns. The shareholders can also hope for an increase in stock price due to increased demand, and all indicators point towards investors being willing to buy shares in this sort of scenario.

Some investors might be willing to buy shares in a loss-making company in the hope that it eventually becomes profitable. These investors are usually called “value investors” because they believe there is hidden value within the company, which underlies their willingness to invest when others are not.

A Company with high growth potential may be favored, even if it is unprofitable or loss-making. 

Alternatively, Non-Equity investments offer lower risks but also lower returns over the long term. 

Investors may consider these investments appropriate when they intend to conserve wealth and are older and retired. 

While there is no guarantee that shares purchased in a loss-making company will increase in value or against share purchases made by other investors, it remains true that shareholders are entitled to vote on critical issues related to the handling of the Company’s financial affairs.

One of the most common reasons for investing in companies that are not yet profitable, but have strong prospects ahead of them, is because there may be an expectation that they will grow into profitability or provide higher rates of return on investment once they do become profitable. This can work well when the investor has time on their side and does not need immediate returns from their investments. 

When examining how much money is being lost and whether this will continue indefinitely, investors should also consider what growth opportunities exist within the business and if these could eventually lead to profitability. 

Once you’ve considered all relevant factors, make your decision on which companies are worth buying shares from by evaluating risk vs. reward.

What To Do When Business Is In Loss

As a business owner, it’s hard to think about what you should do when the business is at a loss. The last thing you want to do is lose more money and have your investment go down the drain. However, there are some things that you can do to help stop this from happening. 

So what should you do when your company’s revenue starts to plummet?

  1. Identify the Weakness in Business and find a way to strengthen them. Ask yourself, what strategies could include less expenditure of money by the business while simultaneously making more? Look for ways to lower or eliminate costs that don’t produce measurable results for your company while increasing revenue at the same time by providing unique services/products no other company has.
  1. Reconsider Pricing Practices because pricing is usually a reflection of what you get from a product or service so there should be some correlation between price and quality, but it doesn’t have to be linear overestimate how much something will cost ahead of time so you can establish an appropriate price point for your products and services.
  1. Renegotiate loans with banks to reduce the total loan amount subject to interest charges (interest charges are accounted for as the major source of business losses). 
  1. Sell surplus assets – operations may be scaled back or closed down completely if there is no hope of restructuring operations and enough cash flow coming in every month without taking dirty money from banks/loan sharks hidden as “loan” (loan sharking is illegal; it should be reported).
  1. Check Your Traffic Referrer. Does your traffic referrer have any competitors? If so, you should promote your site on their sites as well to try and create a “synergistic effect.” Otherwise, you might want to work on something along the lines of “cross-promotion” – this will entail contacting websites with similar content, either through marketing or networking. This way it would be best if they’ll reciprocate which is quite likely.
  1. Get Creative! Look at what your competitors are doing and see if there’s anything new that you can implement, such as newer products or services – even though their money is potentially not as tight anymore since they probably had success with those ideas in the past.

It is essential to address the causes of your losses and implement strategies for improving them as soon as possible, so they don’t become worse. Not only identify the root cause of your problem but also look to generate insight on how to fix it!


Loss-making companies survive because investors believe that there are two potential outcomes for the company. The first is that it will eventually turn a profit, which would mean an above-average return on investment. The second is that the business model may change and attract new customers with better margins to retain profitability.

Quick Answers To Frequently Asked Questions

What does a valuation IPO mean for a saas company?

A valuation IPO means that the company is fully prepared to become public on the stock market, and it also means that it’s had all its paperwork done and passed through legal validation.

What does it mean to have a VC investor funding round?

A VC investor funding round is when a startup or business has high expectations and accepts investments in equity from Venture Capital firms.

Can a VC firm own a tech startup?

A VC firm might be a passive investor in a company, taking some of the risks to help get more money on the table for startups. But they have no active rights to the company whatsoever.

How do startup companies use VC funds?

A venture capitalist invests in a startup company to provide the funds and expertise needed to grow. The expectation is that it will become successful and generate enough revenue and cash flow (through profits or revenues) that future investments by the VC firm will be rewarded above market rates.

Does Wall Street have venture capitalist firms?

“Wall Street” refers to one street in New York City, and venture capitalist firms are investment companies that primarily focus on alternative investments. There is no Wall Street as a whole – it’s just a component of the city.

Are there more investment opportunities for VC backed startups?

There are more investment opportunities for VC backed startups, and it isn’t easy to compare them because different startup types need drastically extra seed money to forge ahead. Businesses that require high levels of R&D also take a lot of time and capital before generating revenue, so they might be easier to finance outside of the VC model.

Can an early stage startup reside in silicon valley?

There are many successful groups of start-ups all over the nation. Staying in Silicon Valley will give these startups the to take advantage of everything that Silicon Valley offers.

Can only a business idea receive VC investment?

No. You can’t necessarily, but that’s what most startups do because it would take a very long time to get an idea without needing investors.

Are there biotech companies in the stock market?

Yes, there are many biotech companies in the stock market. For example, Gilead Sciences Inc., Seattle Genetics Inc., BioNTech SE, Electromedics Unlimited, Ltd., Biogen Beyinc S.A.

Can a tech company also be an angel investor?

Yes. There are many different types of angel investments (instead of just investing in tech companies) if that’s something you’re interested in. For example, Investopedia says many small-time investors prefer to work directly with startups; others seek out industry expertise by investing only in certain types of industries like agriculture or oil and gas production.

Can the startup founder be the potential investor?

Yes. Investing is a process in which a person assists, typically in funding or other resources or simply expertise, to an individual.

Do retail investors want to see a financial statement?

Yes, retail investors need to see a financial statement to determine how profitable (or not) the company is. The financials also show what potential risks might be involved with an investment or purchase, giving prospective investors access to the most recent information about the company’s finances. Just like any other type of document, it can escape some degree of inaccuracy; store data takes priority over “rough diamonds” in this regard because there is less room for error.

Do startup funding care about a company’s gross margin?

If you ask for investment in an early startup, the investors will probably want to know more than just your gross margin. They’ll want to understand how much market share you have, what marketing strategy you’re working with, and what competitive forces preoccupy your industry. You can explain all of this to them with a long spreadsheet, but it’s much easier if someone else has already done some work and sold some ideas on your behalf. They may even be able to get the rest of the data that investors need while pitching themselves as capital providers or strategic partners.

Do startup investors only invest in portfolio companies?

No, but it’s expected. It’s more common for investors to invest in an individual company. One reason is that startups are often less predictable than more giant corporations, which are easier for investors to understand and follow closely. Instead, VC funding is usually structured as a few investments in startups organized by different groups or funds rather than investments made individually by one investor at a time.

Can loss making startups be sold in the public market?

No. A company has to be profitable before it can be publicly traded. Public companies are also subject to many more rules and have a lot more scrutiny.

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Wasim Jabbar

Hi, I'm Wasim - a startup founder and proud dad of two sons. With 15 years of experience building startups, I'd like to share my secret to achieving business success - quality marketing leads. Signup today to gain access to over 52 million leads worldwide.

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