Will More “Spotters” Look for Investor Capital?

Today I was chatting with a “spotter” entrepreneur about the details of an opportunity he’s considering pursuing. He plans to build a business to solve an overlooked problem of solopreneurs. He needs capital to launch the business but doesn’t have experience raising capital from investors, so he asked for my thoughts on structuring a deal that includes investor capital and bank debt.

As we chatted about the business model and numbers, we began discussing the bank debt portion of a possible deal. In the past, he’s used his own capital and bank debt to launch businesses. But interest rate increases mean that debt service on a loan would materially reduce cash flows from the business. This spotter has his own capital, but not enough to finance this entire project. Nor does he want to take on that much risk. Given this reality, he’s considering, for the first time ever, raising capital from investors. The problem is, he doesn’t know where to start.

When interest rates were low, spotters could partner with banks exclusively. The principal and interest on their loan payments didn’t materially impact cash flow, and they maintained 100% ownership. They preferred to work with a banking partner and cheap debt rather than give up equity to investors and have to report back to those investors.

In today’s interest-rate environment, selling an equity stake to investors can be a more attractive alternative. Deals where bank debt would significantly reduce returns or cash flows because of high rates can be more palatable with investor capital. Of course, this depends on how the deal is structured. The devil’s in the details.

Today’s conversation got me thinking. How many more spotters are doing the same math and coming to the same conclusion: I should consider raising capital from investors. If it is—or will be—a material number of people, this could be an interesting market that will likely be underserved.