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An individual or company that provides funding for a start-up. For example, suppose a company with little access to capital is attempting to open a new market or access an old one with a better product. It may not be able to receive loans, either because of an unproven track record or because it is already significantly in debt, and it may have exhausted financing from family and friends. A venture capitalist allows this company to begin and build upon its operations by providing necessary funding. Usually, the venture capitalist takes equity in the company in exchange for the money. Venture capital firms may also provide needed expertise in how to run a business than can help the start-up become successful.