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Opportunity Cost of Capital for Venture Capital Investors and Entrepreneurs


  • Kerins, Frank
  • Smith, Janet Kiholm
  • Smith, Richard


We use a database of recent high tech IPOs to estimate opportunity cost of capital for venture capital investors and entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs face the risk-return tradeoff of the CAPM as the opportunity cost of holding a portfolio that necessarily is underdiversified. For early stage firms, we estimate the effects of underdiversification, industry, and financial maturity on opportunity cost. Assuming a one-year holding period, the entrepreneur's opportunity cost generally is two to four times as high as that of a well-diversified investor. With a 4.0% risk-free rate and 6.0% market risk premium, for the sample average, we estimate the cost of capital of a well-diversified investor to be 11.4%, which equates to 16.7% before the management fees and carried interest of a typical venture capital fund. For an entrepreneur with 25% of total wealth invested in the venture, our corresponding estimate of cost of capital is 40.0%.

Suggested Citation

  • Kerins, Frank & Smith, Janet Kiholm & Smith, Richard, 2004. "Opportunity Cost of Capital for Venture Capital Investors and Entrepreneurs," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 39(02), pages 385-405, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jfinqa:v:39:y:2004:i:02:p:385-405_00

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    Cited by:

    1. Glenn Boyle & Richard Meade, 2008. "Intra-country regulation of share markets: does one size fit all?," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 25(2), pages 151-165, April.
    2. Elisabeth Mueller, 2010. "Returns to Private Equity - Idiosyncratic Risk Does Matter!," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 15(3), pages 545-574.
    3. Abudy, Menachem & Benninga, Simon & Shust, Efrat, 2016. "The cost of equity for private firms," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 431-443.
    4. Pattitoni, Pierpaolo & Petracci, Barbara & Potì, Valerio & Spisni, Massimo, 2013. "Cost of entrepreneurial capital and under-diversification: A Euro-Mediterranean perspective," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 12-27.
    5. Quigley, Neil & Boyle, Glenn & Guthrie, Graeme, 2008. "Estimating Implied Valuation Parameters: Extension and Application to Ground Lease Rentals," Working Paper Series 4012, Victoria University of Wellington, The New Zealand Institute for the Study of Competition and Regulation.
    6. Enrico Maria Cervellati & Pierpaolo Pattitoni & Marco Savioli, 2013. "Entrepreneurial Under-Diversification: Over Optimism and Overconfidence," Working Paper series 09_13, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis, revised May 2016.
    7. Mª José Martínez Romero & Alfonso A. Rojo Ramírez, 2017. "Socioemotional wealth’s implications in the calculus of the minimum rate of return required by family businesses’ owners," Review of Managerial Science, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 95-118, January.
    8. E. M. Cervellati & P. Pattitoni & M. Savioli, 2016. "Cognitive Biases and Entrepreneurial Under-Diversification," Working Papers wp1076, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
    9. Alperovych, Yan & Hübner, Georges, 2011. "Explaining returns on venture capital backed companies: Evidence from Belgium," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 277-295, September.
    10. Pascal François & Georges Hübner, 2010. "A Portfolio Approach to Venture Capital Financing," Cahiers de recherche 1046, CIRPEE.
    11. Matthias Benz, "undated". "Entrepreneurship as a non-profit-seeking activity," IEW - Working Papers 243, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    12. Mueller, Elisabeth, 2008. "How does owners' exposure to idiosyncratic risk influence the capital structure of private companies?," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 185-198, March.
    13. Pattitoni, Pierpaolo & Savioli, Marco, 2011. "Investment choices: Indivisible non-marketable assets and suboptimal solutions," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 2387-2394.
    14. AlekneviÄ ienÄ—, Vilija & StonÄ iuvienÄ—, Neringa & ZinkeviÄ ienÄ—, DanutÄ—, 2013. "Determination of the fair value of a multifunctional family farm: a case study," Studies in Agricultural Economics, Research Institute for Agricultural Economics, vol. 115(3), December.
    15. Vroom, Govert & Mccann, Brian T., 2009. "Ownership structure, profit maximization, and competitive behavior," IESE Research Papers D/800, IESE Business School.
    16. Rojo-Ramírez Alfonso A., 2014. "Privately Held Company Valuation and Cost of Capital," Journal of Business Valuation and Economic Loss Analysis, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-21, January.
    17. Roger, Patrick & Schatt, Alain, 2016. "Idiosyncratic risk, private benefits, and the value of family firms," Finance Research Letters, Elsevier, vol. 17(C), pages 235-245.
    18. Pierpaolo Pattitoni & Marco Savioli, 2011. "Investment Choices: Indivisible non-Marketable Assets and Bounded Rationality," Working Paper series 07_11, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.
    19. Müller, Elisabeth, 2004. "Underdiversification in Private Companies: Required Returns and Incentive Effects," ZEW Discussion Papers 04-29, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.

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