A Founder’s Guide to Startup Fundraising

Clint Phillips

Running a tech startup is both exciting and challenging. One minute you’re sure you’re on the right track, and the next, you aren’t sure what steps to take.

If you’ve ever tried to raise funds, you know that startup fundraising can be daunting, especially if you’re doing it alone. You must find the right investors, communicate your unique selling proposition, determine the funding required, negotiate terms, and manage expectations.

This is when even the most resilient startup founders experience decision fatigue and often feel pressured and isolated.

This guide will help you navigate the fundraising process successfully. Here, you’ll find valuable insights, practical tips, and answers to your most pressing questions about startup fundraising

Therefore, whether you’re struggling with fundraising or want to take your fundraising game to the next level, this guide can help you achieve your fundraising goals.

What Is Startup Funding and How Does It Work?

Startup funding is the process of raising capital to start or grow a business. It’s a critical step for early-stage startups, as it provides the financial resources necessary to bring their vision to life.

Raising capital and funding startups typically involves multiple rounds of fundraising, with each round providing more capital than the previous one.

The first round of fundraising is often called the “seed” round and typically involves raising a small amount of capital to get the business off the ground. One of the most popular ways of getting seed fundraising for a startup is angel investor funding. This type of funding comes from high-net-worth individuals who provide capital to startups in exchange for equity.

Subsequent rounds of fundraising for startups include the Series A, B, and C rounds. These rounds are designed to provide more significant capital as the business grows and reaches key milestones.

Why Startups Need to Raise Funds

Starting a business can be costly, especially when it comes to product development. Above all, whether you’re launching a new product, expanding your team, or looking to scale, raising funds is a crucial step in the startup journey.

Startups need to raise funds for many reasons.

For example. marketing is also a crucial part of any startup’s success as they must create awareness, generate leads, and convert these leads into customers, however it can be expensive. Similarly, building a new product or service requires a lot of money, and startups need funds to create a prototype or minimum viable product. In addition, startups need to hire a team of experienced professionals to help them achieve their goals. From marketing specialists to developers, startups require a team of experts to turn their vision into reality. 

Above all, without adequate funding, startups may find it challenging to grow and achieve their full potential.

When Should Startups Raise Money?

Knowing when to raise funds for a startup is crucial for startup success. Raising money for startups is easier when founders have a compelling idea, a strong team, and a real, sizable market opportunity. 

To determine if they’re ready to raise funds, founders should ask themselves:

  • Is my business model solid and scalable?
  • Have I identified the market opportunity and my target customer?
  • Have I developed a clear business plan and strategy for growth?
  • Do I have a strong and committed team to execute the plan?
  • Have I delivered a product that meets their needs and is growing at a good rate (such as 10% per week)?
  • Have I identified my competitors and understood how to differentiate my product/service?
  • Do I have enough customer adoption (a.k.a. traction)?
  • Am I ready to expand or scale our business?
  • Do I have a realistic understanding of my financial needs and projections?
  • Have I done my due diligence on potential investors and their compatibility with my vision and values?
  • Am I prepared to handle the legal and regulatory requirements that come with fundraising from investors?
  • Am I prepared to relinquish some of my ownership and decision-making power in exchange for funding?

Understanding Startup Funding Rounds

When it comes to fundraising for startups, it’s crucial for founders to have a solid understanding of the different types of funding rounds.

The different types of startup funding rounds include:

Funding Round


Investment Size

Investor Type

Equity Dilution



Early-stage funding

Greater or Less than $1M

Friends, family, angels


Proof of concept, product development

Series A

Growth funding


Venture capital firms


Scaling the business, market expansion

Series B

Expansion funding


Venture capital firms, private equity firms


Market consolidation, research & development

Series C

Late-stage funding


Venture capital firms, private equity firms, hedge funds


Preparing for IPO, acquisition, or merger


Public offering


General public


Liquidity for investors, expansion of business

Pre-Seed Funding

Pre-seed funding is the first stage of funding for startups, which happens in the early days of a company’s existence. It is not a traditional funding round but rather a way for founders to raise capital from their savings, family, friends, supporters, or network of other founders. 

Seed Funding

Seed funding is a startup’s first official funding round, usually tied to equity. It funds product research, launch, marketing, and audience-building resources. This funding comes from various sources such as family, friends, angel investors, incubators, and private equity firms. 

Series A Funding

The Series A funding round is when a startup is ready to scale and expand, attracting investors from private equity firms. The funding amount varies but can reach up to $15 million, with high-growth tech companies raising more due to high valuations.

Series B Funding

Series B funding is the second round of financing for a company after seed and Series A rounds. At this stage, a company is looking to expand its reach and increase its revenue. The funding is generally used for hiring new talent, marketing and sales efforts, and investing in product development and technology. Venture funding firms typically lead this round, and companies undergoing Series B rounds are valued at around $17 million on average, but this number can vary greatly. 

Series C Funding

Series C funding is the next financing stage for startups that have already raised Series A and B rounds. It is often used to scale operations, expand into new markets, and develop new products. The usual funding sources are venture capital firms, private equity firms, and strategic investors.

Series D and Beyond

Series D funding is a later-stage funding round that typically takes place after a company has achieved significant growth and has an established track record of success. This funding round is less common but important for scaling a company, expanding into new markets, or developing new products. 

To learn more about startup fundraising, see if you qualify for membership to join Founders Network.

What Are the Types of Startup Funding?

Startup funding can come from a variety of sources. Each type of funding has its unique characteristics and can provide various benefits to founders. 

In the following subsections, we will explain each type of funding, how it works, and what benefits it can offer startups.


Bootstrapping is a type of self-funding where startup founders rely on personal savings, early customer revenue, or borrowing from family and friends. 

This allows them to retain full ownership and control of their business and stay true to their vision without external investor influence. In some cases, startup founders can skip fundraising and go on to be wildly successful. 

Angel Investors

An angel investor is a high-net-worth individual who provides capital to startups in exchange for an equity stake. They invest early and offer less money than venture capitalists or private equity firms. 

They provide valuable mentorship, guidance, and industry contacts. Founders can find angel investors through networking events, angel investor groups, or online platforms. To find and pitch to angel investors, founders can research syndicates, or use online platforms such as AngelList or Gust.


Bank loans are a common way to finance startups with lower interest rates and longer repayment terms than other types of funding. To apply, look for banks that offer business loans and provide documentation such as a business plan, financial statements, and tax returns. 

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers programs such as the SBA microloan, providing up to $50,000 of working capital. Personal business loans may also be an option for those with a strong credit score and personal finances.


Grants provide free money for startups and do not require repayment or dilute ownership. They allow businesses to focus on growth without the burden of debt and can help them validate a business idea, attracting future investors.


This involves raising money from a large group of people, often through online platforms, without giving up equity in the company. There are various types of crowdfunding, including reward-based, equity-based, and debt-based. To succeed, startups need a well-defined business plan, a compelling pitch, and a clear understanding of the target audience.

Venture Capital Firms

Venture capital firms invest in early-stage startups with high growth potential in exchange for equity in the company. They also often offer expertise, mentorship, and industry connections to help startups succeed.

To receive venture funding from venture capital firms, research those that fit your business model, prepare a strong pitch deck, and be ready to negotiate terms. Some successful startups funded by venture capital firms include Airbnb, Uber, and SpaceX.

Incubators and Accelerator Programs

Incubator and accelerator programs help startups grow by providing mentorship, funding, resources, and networking opportunities. Incubators offer long-term support, while accelerators focus on rapid growth over a few months. 

Admittance into these programs is limited. Startups must research programs, understand their eligibility requirements, and apply. Successful startups that benefited from these programs include Airbnb, Dropbox, and Reddit. 

The Pros and Cons of Each Type of Startup Funding

Type of Funding




  • Complete control over the company
  • No need to give up equity or pay interest
  • Forces founders to be creative and resourceful

  • Can slow down growth
  • Personal financial risk

Friends and Family

  • Easier to access funds
  • Flexible repayment options
  • Can provide valuable advice and connections
  • Can damage personal relationships if the startup fails
  • Pressure to succeed from loved ones

Angel Investors

  • Valuable mentorship and connections
  • Can provide early-stage funding
  • Flexible terms
  • High equity stake required
  • May have conflicting visions for the company

Venture Capital

  • Large amounts of funding are available
  • Access to valuable resources and connections
  • Can accelerate growth
  • Strict control and ownership requirements
  • Dilution of equity
  • May have conflicting visions for the company


  • Generates buzz and publicity
  • Can provide valuable feedback from potential customers
  • No need to give up equity or pay interest
  • Not suitable for all startups
  • Can be time-consuming to manage the campaign


  • Do not need to be repaid
  • Does not dilute equity
  • Can provide validation for startup

  • Strict eligibility requirements
  • May restrict how the funds can be used

Incubators and Accelerators

  • Valuable mentorship, resources, and connections
  • Can provide funding and access to investors
  • Exposure to like-minded entrepreneurs
  • May require giving up equity
  • Time commitment required

How to Choose the Right Type of Funding for Your Startup

Above all, choosing the right type of funding for your startup is an important decision that can impact your business’ future success. 

When considering which funding option is best suited to your startup, there are a few key factors to remember:

  • Assess your startup’s specific needs and goals
  • Research the different types of funding options available
  • Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each option
  • Consider the potential risks and rewards of each option
  • Carefully evaluate every potential investor and partner
  • Look for investors with industry and functional expertise aligned with your startup’s needs
  • Consider an investor’s network and track record
  • Seek out a platform that can provide capital and support for your business’ growth

Steps to Prepare and Secure Funding for Your Startup

Securing funding can be a game-changer for any business. Nevertheless, it’s not always an easy feat. To help you prepare for and navigate the fundraising process, we’ve compiled some essential fundraising tips every founder should know. 

From crafting a compelling pitch deck to negotiating the terms of the investment, we’ve got you covered. So, buckle up and get ready to learn how to secure the funding your startup deserves.

Identify your funding needs and goals

Before reaching out to potential investors, it’s important to identify funding needs and goals. Factors to consider include the stage of the startup, business model, growth plans, and competition. Realistic cost projections and using a startup cost calculator can help you determine the right amount of funding.

Create a business plan for your startup

A business plan is crucial for startups, outlining goals, strategies, and plans for achieving success, as well as securing funding. Key components include an executive summary, market opportunity, competitive advantage, team, and financial projections. To make a effective plan, research and gather data, be clear and concise, tailor the plan to the audience, and update it regularly.

Evaluate your company’s financial health

To secure funding, it’s essential to evaluate your startup’s financial health by analyzing revenue, expenses, cash flow, and profitability. Understanding these metrics will help you determine the amount of funding necessary and showcase your startup’s potential for growth. You should review key financial documents such as tax returns, bank statements, and profit and loss statements to evaluate your company’s financial standing and determine funding requirements.

Research the different types of funding available

To fund your startup, you should consider different types of funding available. First, consider the stage of your startup and the amount of control you’re willing to give up, the timeline for funding, and the terms of the investment. 

For example, bootstrapping may give you more control but limit your growth potential. Angel investors can provide mentorship but may require a significant ownership stake. Venture capitalists can offer significant funding but may demand high control and a quick return on investment. 

Create a pitch deck

A pitch deck is a visual presentation that provides a concise and engaging overview of your startup, highlighting its key features and value proposition to every potential investor. Your pitch deck should combine visually appealing graphics and informative text, showcasing your product, team, market opportunity, and financial projections.

To create an effective pitch deck, start by identifying the key elements of your startup and crafting a clear message that communicates your vision, mission, and goals. In addition, use eye-catching visuals and easy-to-understand language to present your idea and make it stand out.

Key components to include in your pitch deck are the problem and solution, market opportunity, unique value proposition, business model, team, and financial projections. Also, remember to keep your pitch deck concise and avoid overwhelming investors with too much information.

Practice your pitch

Practicing your startup pitch is essential. It allows you to refine your message, gain confidence, and prepare for tough questions. A successful pitch should have a clear opening, address the problem your business solves, showcase your solution, and end with a strong call to action. You can rehearse with a friend, mentor, or network and review your performance to identify areas for improvement.

Research potential investors

When searching for investors for your startup, it’s important to find those who align with your goals and values. Networking is a great way to start your search. Attend industry events and pitch competitions to meet fellow entrepreneurs and startup veterans. 

Don’t be afraid to connect with investors, even if you feel underqualified or your business is in its early stages. Valuable resources and connections can come from unexpected places. Joining a community like Founder’s Network can also provide access to a network of like-minded entrepreneurs and potential investors.

Pitch to potential investors

Startup founders can pitch their startup to potential investors at events, using online platforms, or in-person presentations. It’s crucial to be clear, concise, and compelling, communicating your startup’s unique value proposition and understanding of the market. 

Attending pitch events and conferences can help you meet potential investors and network. Online platforms, such as the Founder’s Network’s community, can provide opportunities to connect with investors and pitch virtually. 

Close the deal

To close the deal, you’ll need to negotiate the terms with the investor, including the amount of investment, company valuation, and any specific terms. Be transparent during the due diligence process and provide requested information promptly. Draft and sign legal documents with a lawyer’s help to protect both parties’ interests.

Use the funding to grow your startup

After securing funding, startups must utilize the funds efficiently to achieve their goals. This requires allocating the funds strategically to drive growth and create value. Product development, hiring new team members, expanding into new markets, or launching marketing campaigns are all ways to use funds effectively. 

Maintain open communication and a strong relationship with your investors

Maintaining open communication and a strong relationship with investors is essential for a startup’s long-term success. So, be transparent and proactive in sharing updates and progress reports. Also, listen to feedback to build trust and credibility, as these can open doors to potential future funding opportunities, valuable guidance, and support.

Make a repayment plan

The next step in fundraising for your startup is to create a repayment plan. This shows a commitment to financial responsibility and helps build trust with investors. Even if the funding amount is small, having a repayment plan can ensure timely repayment and prevent financial issues in the future.

FAQs About Raising Funds for Startups

What is the best funding for startups?

The best funding for startups depends on the specific needs and goals of the business. 

For example, venture capital can provide significant funding and connections to industry experts, while angel investors offer smaller investments and more personalized support. 

Crowdfunding can be a good option for early-stage businesses looking to raise funds from many individuals. Business loans are another option, but they often require collateral and can be more difficult to obtain.

What is the most profitable fundraiser?

The most profitable fundraiser depends on the type of business and the fundraising goals. 

Crowdfunding can be a profitable option for startups looking to raise funds and gain exposure. However, venture capital and angel investing can also be profitable, as they often provide significant funding and connections to industry experts. 

Is it easy to get startup funding?

Getting startup funding can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. The funding process can be time-consuming and requires patience and persistence. So, being in a network of like-minded founders can help when startup fundraising is taking a toll on you.

Does anyone enjoy startup fundraising?

While startup fundraising can be a challenging process, some founders may enjoy the opportunity to connect with potential investors and showcase their business ideas. 

Should I hire a startup fundraising consultant?

Hiring a startup fundraising consultant can be a good option for businesses looking to navigate the fundraising process more effectively. A consultant can provide valuable guidance and connections to potential investors and help businesses develop a strong pitch and fundraising strategy.

Why don’t startup fundraising pitch decks include a table of contents?

Startup fundraising pitch decks typically do not include a table of contents because they are designed to be concise and visually appealing. Including a table of contents can make the deck appear cluttered and difficult to navigate. 

How should a startup compensate an advisor that helps raise money?

Compensating an advisor for fundraising help can take various forms, from equity to a flat fee, depending on their expertise and involvement level. Defining compensation terms is essential, ensuring it aligns with the advisor’s input and the startup’s goals. Additionally, you should consider the legal and tax implications of the compensation structure.

Ready to raise funds for your startup?

You’re now armed with the knowledge and tools to raise funding for your startup successfully. Remember, raising capital is essential to building a successful business, and with the tips and advice provided in this guide, you’re on your way to achieving your goals. 

Take the next step and put your new knowledge into action. Attend pitch competitions, network with investors and other entrepreneurs, and leverage the power of Founder’s Network’s community and events

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