A Startup Guide to Pre-Seed Fundraising

At the pre-seed stage, startups often face the challenge of determining how much funding to raise. 

Unlike later stages, where funding needs are more defined, pre-seed funding aims to provide startups with the initial capital necessary to validate their business idea and develop a prototype or minimum viable product. 

Let’s jump into this complex subject and explore the possibilities.

How much money should a startup raise at a pre-seed stage?

The amount of money raised at pre-seed stage typically varies based on factors such as the industry, market size, and the startup’s specific requirements. 

Generally, each round of pre-seed funding ranges from tens of thousands to a few hundred thousand dollars. 

It’s essential for startups to carefully assess their financial needs and consider factors such as operating expenses, product development costs, and runway length when determining the amount of funding to raise at the pre-seed stage.

Understanding pre-seed funding

Pre-seed funding provides the initial capital to kick-start operations and validate business ideas. 

Unlike traditional seed funding, which typically follows a more developed product or business model, pre-seed funding occurs at the earliest stages of a startup’s lifecycle. It provides a crucial stepping stone, allowing founders to refine their concept, develop a prototype, and conduct initial market validation activities.

Pre-seed funding is distinct from seed and subsequent funding rounds in several ways:

  • While seed funding often follows pre-seed and focuses on scaling a proven business model, pre-seed funding is geared toward idea validation and early product development. 
  • Pre-seed rounds are usually smaller than seed rounds, reflecting the earlier stage of development and higher risk associated with pre-seed startups. 
  • During the pre-seed stage, startups typically use funds for essential activities, like conducting market validation tests, hiring key team members, and securing intellectual property rights.
  •  Pre-seed funding may also be used to cover operational costs

This initial capital infusion provides the runway needed to refine their business model, iterate on their product or service offerings, and ultimately attract additional funding from seed investors and beyond. 

It lets founders validate their ideas in the market and demonstrate early traction, increasing their chances of success in subsequent funding rounds and ultimately achieving their long-term goals.

Factors to consider

Determining the burn rate

The burn rate is the rate at which a startup spends its available capital over a specific period. 

By accurately determining the burn rate, startups can effectively budget their pre-seed funds and ensure they have sufficient runway to achieve critical milestones.

Projected milestones

Setting clear and achievable milestones is essential for guiding a startup’s progress during the pre-seed stage. 

By establishing realistic and measurable milestones, startups can track their progress and demonstrate traction to potential investors.

These milestones may include product development goals, customer acquisition targets, or revenue projections.

Market conditions

Assessing market conditions is vital for understanding the competitive landscape and identifying opportunities and challenges. 

To evaluate market size, customer needs, and competitor offerings, startups should conduct thorough market research. 

By staying informed about market conditions, startups can adapt their strategies and positioning to capitalize on emerging trends and mitigate potential risks.

Sector influences

The industry sector in which a startup operates can significantly influence its pre-seed journey. 

Factors such as the regulatory environment, technological advancements, and consumer behavior trends can affect a startup’s growth potential and market positioning. 

Startups should carefully consider sector influences when developing their business plans and strategies to ensure alignment with industry dynamics and opportunities.

By considering these factors and incorporating them into their pre-seed planning and decision-making processes, startups can enhance their chances of success and more effectively navigate the challenges of the early stages.

Estimating the right amount

Determining the right amount for pre-seed funding rounds involves weighing up the various factors to ensure adequate capitalization without diluting equity excessively or raising more funds than necessary.

How to calculate the amount of money to raise at the pre-seed stage

Startups can calculate the funding needed at the pre-seed stage by conducting thorough financial projections and assessing their business’ specific requirements. 

Factors to consider include:

  • Anticipated operating expenses
  • Product development costs
  • Marketing and sales expenditures
  • Any additional capital needed to achieve key milestones

Working with financial models and forecasts

Financial models and forecasts are invaluable for estimating funding requirements and projecting future financial performance. 

Startups can use these models to simulate different scenarios, analyze potential outcomes, and determine the optimal funding strategy for their pre-seed stage. 

By inputting key variables such as revenue projections, expense forecasts, and growth assumptions, startups can gain insights into their financial trajectory and funding needs.

Weighing costs and valuation

Besides estimating funding requirements, startups must also consider the costs associated with raising capital and the impact on their valuation. 

Factors such as dilution of equity, investor expectations, and market conditions can influence the terms of pre-seed funding rounds. Therefore, it’s essential to consider these factors carefully and strive to balance raising sufficient capital to fuel growth and maintaining a favorable valuation for future fundraising efforts.

Advice from successful founders and investors

Taking advice from successful founders and investors who have previously navigated pre-seed funding can provide important insights for startups embarking on their funding journey. 

These individuals have firsthand experience of overcoming challenges, seizing opportunities, and building successful businesses from the ground up. 

Their advice may encompass various aspects of pre-seed funding, including strategic planning, investor relations, team building, and product development. 

Insights from those who’ve successfully navigated pre-seed funding

Learning from others’ experiences can help startups anticipate challenges, identify opportunities, and refine their approach to pre-seed funding. 

Look for insights of all kinds. These may include practical tips, success stories, and lessons learned from real-world experiences. 

By understanding the strategies and tactics employed by successful pre-seed startups, founders can gain inspiration, guidance, and confidence.

To get you started, here are a few examples:

  • Larry James Erwin notes that a company needs to know what round of funding is the right fit for their journey before approaching investors. 
    • Being clear about where one is at in funding makes it easier to identify the right investor and get a yes.
    • “Not having the right fit could be more detrimental than one would expect,” Erwin says. “Time spent targeting the wrong investors is time lost with the right investors.”


  • Sehreen Noor Ali says that the earliest stages offer an excellent opportunity to develop a unique fundraising model. 
    • “Some things stay the same over fundraising stages, like running a streamlined process, ensuring you hit your numbers, and telling a great story.”
    • “It’s at the earliest stage of fundraising where you will start seeing patterns of what makes a good-fit investor and how to attract them.” 
    • “You’ll start testing your corporate communication muscles with each investor update. You’ll see what excites stakeholders to share the deal with their networks.”


  • Jyoti Bansal says that selling while you validate is key instead of waiting until the concept is proven. 
    • “You may not convince more than 50% of the people you talk to, and that’s fine.” 
    • “If everyone thinks it’s a good idea, something is probably off as well. But if you can’t convince anyone, that’s a red flag.” 
    • “You’ll need to convince investors, early hires, and customers down the line.”

Common fundraising pitfalls and how to avoid them

Identifying and avoiding common fundraising pitfalls is essential for startups seeking pre-seed funding. These pitfalls may include:

  • Inadequate preparation: Startups must thoroughly prepare for fundraising by developing a compelling pitch, refining their business plan, and conducting market research to validate their concept and target audience.
  • Unrealistic expectations: Setting unrealistic fundraising goals or valuations can deter potential investors and hinder fundraising efforts. 
    • Startups should conduct realistic financial projections and set achievable milestones to demonstrate progress and attract investor interest.
  • Lack of investor alignment: Failing to align with investors on vision, values, or expectations can lead to miscommunication and strained relationships. 
    • Startups should seek investors who share their vision and can provide strategic guidance and support beyond capital.
  • Poor communication: Ineffective communication with potential investors, including lack of responsiveness, unclear messaging, or insufficient follow-up, can derail fundraising efforts. 
    • Startups should prioritize clear and transparent communication, promptly address investor inquiries, and provide regular updates on progress and milestones.

Crafting your pitch

An interesting pitch is essential for effectively communicating your pre-seed funding needs to investors. Consider the following tips to create a pitch that resonates with investors and highlights your venture’s unique value proposition.

Tips on how to pitch your pre-seed funding needs to investors

  • Know your audience: Tailor your pitch to your target investors’ specific interests and preferences. 
    • Research potential investors and understand their investment focus, industry preferences, and past investments.
  • Focus on the problem: Clearly articulate the problem your startup is solving, and the market needs it addresses. 
    • Highlight the pain points experienced by your target customers and explain how your solution provides a compelling value proposition.
  • Highlight your unique solution: Spotlight your product or service’s unique features and benefits. 
    • Explain how your solution differs from existing offerings in the market and why it is superior.
  • Demonstrate traction: Evidencing traction during the pre-seed stage instills confidence in potential investors and validates a startup’s market potential. 
    • Provide evidence of market validation by conducting surveys or interviews with potential customers to gather feedback and gauge interest in their product or service. 
    • Showcase successful pilot programs or partnerships that indicate early adoption and validation of their solution within the target market.
  • Present a clear business model: Outline your startup’s revenue model, pricing strategy, and path to profitability. 
    • Investors want to understand how your business will generate revenue and sustain growth over time.
  • Showcase your team’s strengths: Highlight the expertise and experience of your founding team. 
    • Investors invest in people as much as they do in ideas, so emphasize the qualifications and capabilities of your team members.
  • Be concise and engaging: Keep your pitch concise and focused, avoiding unnecessary jargon or technical details. 
    • Use storytelling techniques to engage investors and create a compelling narrative around your startup’s potential.

Building a compelling narrative around your startup’s potential

Consider the following strategies to build a strong narrative:

  • Start with a powerful hook: Begin your pitch with a captivating hook that grabs investors’ attention and piques their curiosity.
  • Paint a vivid picture: Use descriptive language and imagery to paint a vivid picture of the problem your startup addresses and the transformative impact of your solution.
  • Showcase success stories: Share success stories or case studies illustrating how your solution can positively impact customers or solve real-world problems.
  • Highlight growth opportunities: Emphasize your startup’s scalability and growth potential, showcasing opportunities for expansion into new markets or verticals.

Legal and financial considerations

In securing pre-seed funds, startups must navigate legal and financial considerations. 

Understanding the legalities involved in raising pre-seed funds and the role of financial advisors can significantly impact a startup’s success and growth trajectory.

Overview of legalities in raising pre-seed funds

Startups must ensure compliance with securities laws by drafting investor agreements delineating terms and conditions. 

Protecting intellectual property rights also requires patents, trademarks, or copyrights to safeguard innovative ideas from competitors. 

Finally, maintaining robust corporate governance practices fosters organizational transparency and accountability.

The role of financial advisors during the pre-seed stage

Financial advisors like Finvisor are instrumental in guiding startups through the complexities of the pre-seed stage. Their expertise assists in financial planning, aiding startups in developing comprehensive strategies tailored to their goals. 

Financial advisors also facilitate investor relations, leveraging their insights to help startups cultivate relationships and negotiate favorable investment terms. They contribute to risk management efforts, identifying, assessing, and mitigating financial risks to safeguard startup assets and enhance resilience.

For expert guidance on navigating the legal and financial intricacies of the pre-seed stage, contact Finvisor today. 

Our experienced financial advisors specialize in assisting startups with fundraising, financial planning, and risk management, ensuring they are well-equipped to thrive.

To learn more about what we do, or to request a quote, contact us at hello@finvisor.com or 415-416-6682. We’re here to help you navigate deferred revenue journal entries so you can make the most of your assets!

*This blog does not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. This blog should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney licensed or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction.*

Supercharge your business’ finance journey

Join our newsletter to recieve exclusive updates from the Finvisor team and valuable tips for your business finance journey.



    Finvisor HQ
    48 2nd St, 4th Floor
    San Francisco, CA 94105


    "*" indicates required fields

    Can Finvisor reach out to you via SMS?
    This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

    Supercharge your business’ finance journey

    Join our newsletter to recieve exclusive updates from the Finvisor team and valuable tips for your business finance journey.

      Skip to content