Beginner's guide to pre-seed funding

Many business owners and entrepreneurs are familiar with the concept of seed funding, but pre-seed funding is equally important to understand. Under the right circumstances, pre-seed funding may come before seed funding as people invest in the idea behind a business. Learn how pre-seed funding works compared to other funding stages and some strategies to begin raising these funds.

What is pre-seed funding?

Pre-seed funding is often the earliest stage of startup funding, coming before seed funding and other stages. During this stage, investors provide startups with capital to begin developing products in exchange for equity. This stage may come after even earlier funding stages, such as bootstrapping with a business owner’s personal funds or initial angel investment rounds.

Pre-seed funding essentially involves investing in an idea, as products typically aren’t developed yet, and businesses may have nothing beyond a prototype.

The difference between pre-seed and seed funding

Pre-seeding and seed funding are somewhat similar, with a few key differences:

  • Seed funding typically functions as the first official round of funding, as it involves more formal investing and provides more instrumental growth after the pre-seed funding stage.
  • Founders tend to get higher investments through seed funding than pre-seed funding, with pre-seed funding generating around $50,000 to $250,000 while seed funding may raise upwards of $2M.
  • During the seed funding round, investors typically want the company to have gained a degree of traction, while pre-seeding precedes product development in most cases.

When to start raising pre-seed funding

Businesses can be at a few different stages before raising pre-seed funding. You may be ready for pre-seed funding if your business:

Has a minimum viable product (MVP) that’s like to gain traction. An MVP is an early form of a company’s product. Over time, businesses will make improvements to the product based on market research and consumer feedback. This basic product then develops with additional features into the final product as it gets the attention of both investors and consumers.

Has an experienced founding team. Your business’s founding team should also have ample knowledge and expertise in your industry, but you may still be able to appeal to initial investors even without sufficient experience.

Has a product that’s a good fit for the target market. If your product appeals to your target market, you’ll be more likely to appeal to investors who see potential in it. To achieve this, you must be able to prove that your audience likes your product and that there’s a want or need for it.

Has started onboarding new customers. Businesses may also want to raise pre-seed funding if they have a small number of customers or are beginning to attract them. The important thing here is for companies to be able to meet increasing demand as their customer base grows.

How to get started with pre-seed funding

Once you’ve completed the steps needed to qualify for pre-seed funding, you can get started with the actual funding process.

1. Decide when pre-seed funding is right for you

While pre-seed funding isn’t the best option for every startup, it’s often ideal for businesses in their early stages. Consider whether this type of funding is right for your business before getting started. It could be the key to a successful launch if you have a winning idea and a working prototype. As your business grows, you can raise more funds through seed funding, Series A, Series B, and Series C funding. With the right tools, pre-seed funding will give your business what it needs to thrive.

2. Put together a compelling pitch deck

You need a strong pitch because you likely won’t have an actual product at this point. This pitch will let investors know precisely what they’re investing in and include details about your product, business, target market, and financial predictions for the future of your business.

You can create one or more pitch decks, depending on what you want to achieve. For instance, you can create one for presenting your idea to investors in person and another for email pitches.

3. Choose the right investors

Once you have your pitch deck ready, it’s time to select the ideal investors who will likely be receptive to your pitch. You can begin looking for investors by researching those who have invested in similar businesses in the past. In some cases, you may be able to find interested prospective investors within your network, making it essential to look at potential networking opportunities such as expositions where you can share your ideas.

Investors should have a history of investments similar to your business and industry. With the right investor behind you, you’ll benefit from pre-seed funding along with some guidance as you grow your business.

4. Negotiate a contract

The final step to take is to negotiate with investors. Once you strike a deal with investors, you should ensure the agreement is in writing before accepting it. Otherwise, your business might suffer at some point if investors unexpectedly choose to back out or don’t deliver on their pledges. If you don’t like the deal on the table, you should also be able to turn it down, as this could benefit you in the long run as you secure better deals.

Get growing with DigitalOcean today

DigitalOcean supports builders of all kinds with the help of our global startup program, Hatch. Find out how you can build and grow your startup with simple infrastructure solutions like Droplets and App Platform. To sign up for a DigitalOcean account, click here.


Try DigitalOcean for free

Click below to sign up and get $200 of credit to try our products over 60 days!Sign up

Related Resources

Burn Rate: Definition, Formula, and Example Calculation
What is Cash Flow Management? Definition, Strategies, and Examples
Cap tables for startups: a guide to ownership distribution

Get started for free

Sign up and get $200 in credit for your first 60 days with DigitalOcean.*

* This promotional offer applies to new accounts only.