What Is Love Money?

Love money refers to seed capital that has been extended by family and/or friends to an entrepreneur to start a business venture. The decision to lend money and the terms of the agreement are usually based on the relationship between the two parties, instead of a formulaic risk analysis.

Key Takeaways

  • Love money is a slang term for funding that an entrepreneur raises directly from friends and family.
  • Startups that require love money funding are generally assumed to not fit the requirements of traditional financing sources like banks and venture capitalists.
  • It is critical that the entrepreneur and the investors understand the risks involved with love money prior to any capital changing hands.
  • Love money investments should only be made with capital the investors are prepared to lose entirely.
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Love Money

Understanding Love Money

Love money is usually given to entrepreneurs by family or friends when there are no other financial options available. Love money may be the only financing option for an entrepreneur who does not meet the criteria necessary to get credit and/or capital from traditional avenues like banks or other lenders. Love money may be used to start a new business or to provide an injection of capital to an existing business when required.

Love money typically has no fixed repayment terms, and can sometimes be given for equity in the venture. Love money may also be advanced as a loan or a convertible note with a more formal and structured agreement. Regardless of the structure, it is recommended that investors only use risk capital - money they are prepared to lose - when providing love money investments to family and friends.

Angel Investors and Love Money

The people who advance love money may also be considered angel investors, but that is not always the case. The term angel investors may refer to any high net worth individual who can afford to put money in a risky venture, but it usually refers to accredited investors. These investors will often inject cash into a new venture or when a business needs capital to continue its operations, especially during the difficult early stages, but they tend to have an expectation of returns and a set exit strategy. To qualify as love money, the angel investor would have to be in the entrepreneur's social network prior to investing.

Why is Love Money Important?

Love money is crucial to many types of business ventures, but is especially helpful for startups. Many of these businesses would never obtain financing through traditional means. For many budding entrepreneurs, love money is the best way to get off the ground.

That said, love money is not always for first-time entrepreneurs. It can also be a great source of capital for people who are already established but cannot secure enough financing. The more advanced a business is, the more formal a love money investment is likely to be. 

Does Love Money Mean More or Less Stress?

While it may seem easier to approach people you know for capital, that does not necessarily mean it comes without stress and pressure. In fact, there may be an additional sense of responsibility toward your funders when you know them personally. It is not always easy to mix business with pleasure, so discussing the direction of the business and when (and how) you will repay the debt can be difficult. 

Both parties in a love money transaction should set out clear guidelines and expectations from the beginning in order to help alleviate the pressure and any future problems. Make sure both sides are aware of any legal consequences and considerations before any capital changes hands. More importantly, just like any other investor, the funder should be aware of market conditions and the risks associated with investing in the business.