FINANCING FOR OUTDOOR BUSINESSES

What are the stages of financing and the challenges to various stages of financing? What traditional and non-traditional options are on the capital continuum? What are creative approached to funding needs?

How much cash do you need to get started? Assess your estimated start up budget using the Vermont Small Business Development Center’s financials worksheet and familiarize yourself with the cash flow template and to find participating SBA lenders and loan programs.

For funding opportunities, look to lending companies, banks, nonprofit lending organizations, investors, and grants.

Depending on where your business is located, which industry sector and specific financial needs, the Agency of Commerce and Community Development and Regional Development Corporations can help you identify the best source and support you through eligibility and applications processes for funding sources that include federal and state programs, as well as an array of loans and venture capital.

Vermont Community Loan Fund (VCLF)

The Vermont Community Loan Fund is a mission-driven, community-focused alternative lender. VCLF provide loans and other resources to local businesses, community organizations & nonprofits, early care & learning providers and developers of affordable housing who don’t qualify for a loan from a traditional lender.

Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA)

VEDA is Vermont’s statewide economic development finance lender. Created by the General Assembly in 1974, VEDA’s mission is “to contribute to Vermont’s economic vitality by providing a broad array of financing programs to eligible businesses that create jobs and help advance Vermont’s public policy goals.”

VEDA’s Direct Loan Program

  • Loans up to $1.5 million (or 40% of a project, whichever is less) to finance construction or renovation of real estate and/or purchase and installation of machinery and equipment, and furniture and fixtures;

  • Eligible businesses include manufacturing, processing, warehousing, research and development, travel and tourism, information technology, certain energy-related projects, and others as defined in statute;

  • Project must involve private (i.e., bank or credit union) financing for some portion of project and at least 10% equity contribution by borrower;

  • VEDA may also purchase a portion of an eligible loan made by a bank or credit union.

VEDA’s Small Business Loan Program

  • Maximum loan $500,000;

  • Eligible borrowers must be U.S. citizens or 51% owned by U.S. citizens and unable to access adequate conventional credit;

  • Loans may be for fixed assets (up to 40% of project or working capital (up to 50% of project);

  • Financing may be up to 75% for loans under $50,000;

  • Eligible businesses include manufacturing, processing, warehousing, research and development, travel and tourism, information technology, certain energy generation or efficiency projects, and retail and service businesses.

VEDA’s Entrepreneurial Loan Program

  • Up to a maximum of $350,000 in loans outstanding to any one borrower at any one point in time;

  • Loans may be made for working capital or fixed assets;

  • Eligible borrowers include businesses in seed, start-up or early growth stages unable to access adequate capital from other public and private financing sources.

USDA Rural Development

Rural Business Development Grants are available in Vermont. This program is a competitive grant designed to support targeted technical assistance, training and other activities leading to the development or expansion of small and emerging private businesses in rural areas which will employ 50 or fewer new employees and has less than $1 million in gross revenue. Programmatic activities are separated into enterprise or opportunity type grant activities.

“Angel” Investors 

Angel investments are generally made for funding requirements between $100,000 to $1 million, with individual investors contributing between $10,000 and $100,000 each. These amounts are too small for venture capital firms. Angel investors usually focus on companies that have already developed a basic concept and business strategy and are in the seed stage of investment. An emphasis is placed on business enterprises with the potential for rapid growth. In addition to offering significant capital to launch business entities, many "angels" also offer their business expertise and actively participate in the management, operation, and marketing of the business.

North Country Angels (NCA)

NCA brings together over 40 successful and experienced entrepreneurs who are active in making early-stage and seed investments in companies located in the northeastern United States.  Every month they gather information to review business plans from prospective companies.  Members of NCA make individual decisions about investments.  Many are interested in taking an active role in the development of a venture from management and board activities to helping structure financially sound investment placements. 

Venture Capital

Venture capital firms are generally privately owned. In most cases, these firms seek to generate a high rate of return by investing in rapidly growing businesses in all stages of development. Most venture capital firms will prioritize investments where a high rate of return - often 10:1 or higher - may occur in order to maintain an annual rate of portfolio return of at least 30%. Since most new ventures fail, these high rates of return are required to offset the risk the venture capitalist assumes.

Fresh Tracks Capital L.P.

Fresh Tracks combines $25 million in venture capital with the strategic resources needed by entrepreneurs to build thriving businesses throughout Vermont. The intellectual capital of Vermont and the investment experience of Fresh Tracks provide a winning combination. Fresh Tracks makes equity investments in companies that demonstrate a compelling and defensible competitive advantage. Linked to the national Village Ventures network of professional and financial resources, Fresh Tracks' local roots and network supports the growth of innovative businesses through multiple rounds of financing. 29 Harbor Road, Suite 200, Shelburne, VT 05482, 802-923-1500,
info1@freshtrackscap.com.

Worth Mountain Capital Partners

Worth Mountain Capital Partners is a Vermont-based corporate finance firm that advises and invests in established companies in northern New England. Grounded in values that speak to a sense of place and of a time when transactions were crafted on the strength of enduring relationships, their work is based on bedrock principles that fueled the industriousness of New England's heritage. Worth Mountain's approach recalls an era when the Yankee spirit of ingenuity and frugality made it possible to be at once both conservative and forward thinking. 68 Court Street, Middlebury, VT 05753, 802-398-8111, info@worthmountainconsulting.com.

Vermont Seed Capital Fund, LP

Vermont Seed Capital Fund selects investment opportunities in early stage, high opportunity, technology based companies in Vermont. Objectives are to impact next generation job and wealth creation in Vermont by providing companies and entrepreneurs access to early stage risk capital. This is a professionally managed venture capital fund which invests exclusively into Vermont start-ups and growing firms determined as offering high growth potential, financial return commensurate with risk, and public benefit for Vermonters. Portfolio firms also have access to substantive programs, facilities, partners, and value-adding services offered via a strategic relationship with the non-profit Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET) incubator. The Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) is a strategic partner for this fund. Investment transactions range from $50,000 to $250,000.

Borealis Ventures 

Borealis Ventures partners with exceptional entrepreneurs to build great companies from the earliest stages.  We're based in New Hampshire, but our portfolio companies have global impact as they redefine application software, deliver new Internet and mobile services, and commercialize life-changing technologies.

Vermont EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) has been supporting research in Vermont's colleges and universities with funds from the National Science Foundation and local sources since 1986. The impact of the EPSCoR program includes the private sector -- particularly small, technology-based businesses.  Vermont EPSCoR provides the opportunity for Vermont small businesses to compete for grants to foster research and development projects which will lead to application to the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programs. University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405, (802) 656-7931

Vermont Works

Independent alternative support for jobs and economic development.

Milk Money

Milk Money is where Vermonters discover local investment opportunities, get tips on how to evaluate those opportunities, and then make an investment. We feature companies that are already in business with some proven track record. We help Vermont businesses post relevant, easy-to-understand information about their company so potential investors can make informed decisions. And we make sure all the required legal documents have been filed with and approved by Vermont’s Department of Financial Regulation (DFR).

Launch VT

LaunchVT is an early stage acceleration program seeking viability, scalability, and impact. Vermont startups are selected annually for an eight week intensive program that culminates with a pitch competition. Entrepreneurs in the LaunchVT cohort work with a dedicated coach, strategic advisors, and each other to refine their business models and hone their pitches in order to compete for $100,000 in cash and in-kind services.

Camber Outdoors

Camber Outdoors’ Pitchfest drives innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship in the active-outdoor industries through a 10-week intensive mentoring program, pitch event in front of an audience of over 350 business leaders, investors, and media and one-on-one time with an esteemed judging panel.

Vermont Community Foundation

Community Capital of Vermont

State Funding Incentives 

Vermont Employment Growth Incentive (VEGI)

The State of Vermont offers an economic incentive for business recruitment, growth and expansion. The Vermont Employment Growth Incentive (VEGI) program can provide a cash payment, based on the revenue return generated to the State by prospective qualifying job and payroll creation and capital investments, to businesses that have been authorized to earn the incentive and who then meet performance requirements.

Windham County Economic Development Program

The WCEDP is meant to promote economic development in Windham County by providing funds to stimulate job creation through business start-up, expansion, or relocation, encourage entrepreneurial activity, and strengthen the economic development infrastructure to ensure a strong foundation for transformational economic activity. 

Vermont Procurement Technical Assistance Center (VT PTAC)

VT PTAC is part of a nationwide network that operates out of the Vermont Department of Economic Development, providing businesses with an understanding of the requirements of government contracting and the know-how to obtain and successfully perform federal, state, and local contracts. VT PTAC consistently assists Vermont businesses in finding and winning over $100 million in government contracts annually.

Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC)

A new Federal-State partnership for economic and community development within the most distressed counties of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. Program areas include economic infrastructure grants, state planning grants, local development districts and international investments.