Pre-Seed Funding In A Nutshell

For a start-up, pre-seed funding an initial round of development funding designed to help the business grow. Pre-seed funding tends to be in amounts between $10,000 and $250,000, and usually, these funds come primarily from family, friends, or the own funders, as this can help them develop a first MVP and access to the seed funding.

Understanding pre-seed funding

Pre-seed funding is an early funding round in the life of a startup and is used to fund product development in exchange for equity in the company.

In a startup, external funding from angel investors and then venture capitalists progresses in a series of stages including seed, Series A, Series B, Series C, and so forth. By definition, any round of funding that occurs before the seed round is called pre-seed funding. 

Since pre-seed funding is provided in the very early stages of a startup’s journey, the idea of acquiring it is to sustain the launch of the business and, ideally, take it to the next milestone.

Capital is normally provided by the founders themselves or by friends and family members and may range anywhere between $10,000 and $250,000. However, some startups also secure funding from angel investors, accelerator programs, incubator programs, and venture capital funds. Once the capital has been secured, entrepreneurs seek to make it last as long as possible.

Irrespective of the funding source, however, it is important the founders remain accountable to their investors at all times. In most cases, the pre-seed investment will last around 12 months or up to 18 months if there are unforeseen circumstances. Extensions beyond 18 months usually indicate that the startup has set goals that were too ambitious. 

When should a startup raise pre-seed funding?

While there are no concrete conditions for raising pre-seed funding, most startups will share some of the following characteristics:

  • A minimum viable product (MVP) has been developed and is displaying tentative signs of traction with users.
  • Data or proof of product-market fit has been identified.
  • There is a need or readiness to recruit critical additional staff.
  • The presence of a capable founding team with relevant skills and expertise.
  • Cash is required to build a prototype.
  • The start-up has made its first revenue.

How can a business attract pre-seed funding?

Most startups will find the process of attracting pre-seed funding easier if they are already generating sales. However, for those that don’t have a working product, it can be helpful to consider the following pointers:

  1. Secure an introduction – to connect with an investor who isn’t a friend or family member, entrepreneurs can connect with a potential investor by seeking an introduction from an individual they trust. For best results, this should be someone the investor has worked with in the past.
  2. Personality – investors want to see certain personality traits in the startup’s founders. These include a propensity for risk-taking and the passion and motivation to make their dreams a reality.
  3. Relevant qualifications – similarly, investors look for startups with a founder who is surrounded by a qualified team that complements their skillset. A solo entrepreneur with a background in accountancy, for example, will have trouble attracting pre-seed funding since they lack product development experience. First-time entrepreneurs can also bolster their resumes if they hold a relevant Bachelor’s degree or previously worked at a tech company.
  4. Detailed funding pitch – this is a chance for the entrepreneurs to tell the story of their startup and where they see it heading in the future. The pitch must detail the problem the company is solving and how it intends to solve it. It must also provide detail on the estimated market size, business model, competitive advantage, key milestones, and projected revenue and customer growth.

Pre-seed funding is a relatively recent concept. Traditionally, new companies would look for Series A funding right away and then worry about developing a viable product.

Seed investors have since come to fill a critical role in this process. Instead of looking for companies focused on getting to market as quickly as possible, they look for start-ups who have the following characteristics:

  • They have an extremely basic product showing some functionality or are working on a minimum viable product (MVP).
  • They have identified a clear market opportunity.
  • They are in the process of making new hires or expect to advertise imminently.
  • They have increasing operational expenses.

Pre-seed funding tends to be in amounts between $10,000 and $250,000. It typically comes from friends, family members, ardent supporters, or the start-up founders themselves.

Some basic features and requirements of pre-seed funding

The idea of pre-seed funding is to enable the launch of the business and get it to the next level of funding. The start-up founder is typically responsible for making the capital last as long as possible. They must also make the business attractive enough for subsequent investment.

Here are some other general features and requirements:

  1. Pre-seed funding should last up to 12 months to set a good rhythm. Delays beyond a year portray an unprepared or underdeveloped business.
  2. Funds are typically extended to a start-up based on the credibility of the founder, and not so much on the viability of an idea.
  3. Investors must not expect quick returns and be cognizant of the risk at this early stage of development.
  4. The founder(s) must be accountable to investors. Personal relationships must not cloud accountability.
  5. As a matter of priority, funds must be directed to clarifying a value proposition, milestones, and a financial road map.

How pre-seed funding is raised

For a start-up requiring pre-seed capital, there are several options:

  • Pre-seeding platforms – these are host companies or entrepreneurs willing to invest in fresh ideas. Sping is a popular Dutch service for those developing web applications and other online platforms.
  • Crowdfunding – this allows friends, family, and passionate supporters the chance to financially support a growing business by using the crowdfunding model. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are two of the more popular options.
  • Early-stage accelerator programs – these are ideal for start-ups who require assistance in developing a product and honing their business model. Ultimately, these programs connect businesses with investors and provide critical support in the form of mentoring and education. Startup Boost is one such company with a focus on moving pre-seed stage start-ups towards accelerators, investment, and/or revenue.

Key takeaways:

  • Pre-seed funding is an initial round of funding designed to help a start-up commence operations. It is typically funded by friends, family, and the founder of the start-up itself.
  • Pre-seed funding tends to be in amounts under $250,000. Start-ups who have identified a clear market opportunity can use the funding to build a simple but functional product or recruit extra staff.
  • Pre-seed funding can be raised in several ways, including specialized pre-seeding platforms, crowdfunding platforms, and early-stage accelerator programs.
  • Pre-seed funding is an early funding round in the life of a startup. It is used to fund product development in exchange for equity in the company.
  • Pre-seed investment lasts approximately 12 months or up to 18 months if there are unforeseen circumstances. Extensions beyond this timeframe usually indicate overly ambitious entrepreneurs.
  • Pre-seed funding can be obtained by securing an introduction from an individual known to the investor and crafting a funding pitch that gives an overview of the company’s goals and visions. It is also important that entrepreneurs have the personality and relevant qualifications to drive the company forward. 

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