What is a SAFE investment?

A SAFE note, or Simple Agreement for Future Equity note, is an investment instrument for early-stage investors. This article will explain what is SAFE and how it works, so you can make an informed decision about investing in one.

What is a SAFE?

A SAFE is a Simple Agreement for Future Equity. SAFEs were created by Y Combinator in 2013 as a way to streamline seed investments. Unlike convertible notes, which are loans that convert to equity at a later date, SAFEs don’t accrue interest or have scheduled maturity dates. 

Instead, they give investors the right to convert their investment into equity in the company at a future date, usually when the company raises additional funding or liquidates equity. 

How Do SAFEs Work?

SAFEs are similar to convertible notes in a way that they convert into equity at a later date, but they have simpler terms and are not debt instruments.

Overall, SAFE agreements are designed to be a simple and flexible way for early-stage startups to raise capital, while providing certain protections and benefits to the investor, without the complexity and potential risks associated with traditional debt financing.

There’re a few things you need to notice in a SAFE:

  • SAFE investments do not involve the lending of money to the startup, and therefore do not have a fixed repayment date or an interest rate.
  • While SAFE agreements can potentially dilute the ownership of existing equity holders. However, it is possible to structure these agreements in a way that minimizes or avoids this dilution, depending on the terms of the agreement and the needs of the startup and its investors.

Rewards When Using SAFEs

SAFEs have several benefits for both investors and startups. Investors can benefit from SAFEs in the following ways:

  • A faster way to access early-stage investments: SAFEs allow investors to invest quickly in promising startups by negotiating only a few key terms.
  • Potential for upside: Because the investor receives the right to receive equity in the company at a future date, they have the potential to benefit from the success of the startup, without having to provide as much funding upfront as they would under traditional equity financing.

Meanwhile, SAFEs offer founders the following benefits:

  • Reduced legal and administrative costs: Because SAFE agreements are simpler and more streamlined than traditional equity financing, they can reduce the legal and administrative costs associated with raising capital.
  • A greater degree of flexibility: SAFE agreements are designed to be flexible and easy to customize to the specific needs of the startup and the investor. This can make the investment process simpler and faster, as compared to traditional equity financing.

Is SAFE the Right Investment for You?

While SAFE agreements have many benefits, there are also some risks to consider for both startups and investors. 

  • Dilution risk: Since SAFE investments convert into equity at a future date, the existing equity holders may face dilution of their ownership percentage in the company.
  • Uncertainty of conversion: Since the timing and conditions of conversion of a SAFE investment into equity are often unknown, investors may not have a clear understanding of when and how their investment will convert.
  • No maturity date or interest: Unlike traditional debt financing, SAFE investments do not have a fixed repayment date or an interest rate, which can make it harder for investors to manage their cash flow.

Overall, a SAFE can be a reasonable way to invest in an early-stage company. However, it is important to understand the risks involved and evaluate whether it is the right choice for their specific needs and circumstances.

SAFEs vs. Convertible Notes

There are a few key differences between SAFEs and convertible notes:

  • Equity vs debt: SAFE investments are typically structured as equity investments, while convertible notes are structured as debt investments.
  • Valuation: SAFE investments do not require a valuation of the company at the time of the investment, while convertible notes typically have a valuation cap or a discount rate that determines the conversion price of the debt into equity.
  • Maturity date: Convertible notes have a maturity date, which is the date by which the note must be repaid or converted into equity. SAFE investments do not have a maturity date.

Overall, both SAFE and convertible note investments have their own advantages and disadvantages, and the choice between the two will depend on the specific needs and circumstances of the startup and the investor. SAFE investments may be more flexible and streamlined, while convertible notes may offer more investor protections and a clearer path to conversion into equity.

How Can Rundit Help You Manage Your SAFE Investments?

Rundit is a portfolio management tool that can help you manage a variety of investment vehicles like Convertible Notes and SAFEs. With Rundit’s investment dashboard, you can track your SAFE investments in real-time, including the status of each investment and its conversion triggers. Your portfolio company performance is also visualized in charts and dashboards which illustrate the company’s growth trajectory, trends and opportunities.

SAFE instrument in Rundit

Manage your SAFE investments with the help of Rundit, talk to our expert today to learn more.

Manage your investments with ease
Manage your investments with ease

Get holistic insights and make decisions from a unified data source.

Talk to Sales

You might also be interested in

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to receive our newsletter for exclusive updates, insights, and exciting news delivered straight to your inbox.