Ask a Seed VC: Should I approach seed investors for pre-seed funding?
Welcome back to Ask a Seed VC, Eniac’s advice column on startup fundraising. Today’s question comes from a founder who we’re leaving anonymous:
We don’t have money anymore in our company, we are doing bridge funding and preparing for a pre-seed. We are creating a prototype and a community of 370 creators. Many VCs I have found are seed. Is it worth it to apply anyways or better concentrate only on angels?
This ties into an earlier column about when startups are “too early” for funding, but the answer is a little more straightforward: Yes, you should absolutely consider pitching seed firms!
Just using Eniac as an easy example, while we’re known for seed investing, we’re happy to look at pre-seed deals as well. (As our tagline puts it, “We lead pre-seed and seed rounds in bold founders who use code to create transformational companies.”)
After all, the whole idea of what makes for a seed round has gotten pretty fuzzy — on the higher end, you’ve got “mango” seeds, and the smaller pre-seed is itself a relatively recent phenomenon. So we try to get less hung up on the specific terminology and focus more on whether we like the company and how mature it is. (Our sweet spot is with startups that are still working to find product-market fit.)
There are some caveats, though. Despite the fuzziness mentioned above, most firms do still have typical check sizes. So if you’re looking to raise just (say) $100,000, then the round may simply be too small to make sense for some, seed-focused or not.
How can you figure that out? Well, you can look at their past investments on Crunchbase — the data is incomplete and rarely specifies how much one firm invested in a given round, but it should give you a general sense of their typical round size.
You can also see how firms describe themselves on their websites and social media: Do they mention pre-seed deals? But don’t let the absence of pre-seed wording on a website (including, whoops, Eniac’s) scare you off. Even if they don’t invest this time, you could be planting seeds (hey-o!) for your next round.
And of course, you should definitely consider non-VC funding sources as well — angel investors, as you mentioned, but also startup accelerators and (at least in some fields) grants. Good luck!
Have a question for “Ask a Seed VC”? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Requests for investment and pitch decks with no questions beyond “what could I do better?” will be ignored.) Please specify whether or not we should include your name and your company’s name if we publish an answer!