Ready to start scaling your startup but need capital? Beyond bootstrapping, you have several options to fund growth. Here are different funding sources entrepreneurs can leverage at various stages.
Angel investors are wealthy individuals who provide startups with seed funding in exchange for equity. Angels invest their own money, often in the range of $25K to $100K.
Angels bring capital as well as expertise, connections and mentoring. They often invest in the early stages, taking more risk than venture capital firms. Angel networks and platforms like AngelList can connect you.
To attract angels, demonstrate traction and potential through customer acquisition, product development progress and initial revenue. Highlight your team’s skills and startup vision.
Venture capital (VC) firms raise pools of capital to invest in high-growth-potential startups for equity. VCs provide larger funding amounts, often investing millions in proven startups.
Approach VC firms focused on your industry vertical and willing to invest in your stage of growth. Make your pitch deck compelling and show scalability and strong market opportunity.
VC money jumpstarts growth but also dilutes founder equity and control. Ensure you need the funds before taking this step.
Revenue-based financing provides capital in exchange for a percentage of your startup’s future revenue until the principal plus fees are repaid. The percentage paid monthly varies based on total funding received.
This flexible financing option allows you to scale without giving up equity. Monthly payments adjust based on actual revenue. Once the agreed upon cap is reached, payments stop.
Revenue-based financing works for startups with recurring SaaS and subscription models. Companies like Lighter Capital and Decathlon Capital offer this funding.
Business Loans and Lines of Credit
Traditional business loans and lines of credit are available from banks or alternative online lenders. Loaning criteria is tighter than other startup funding options but may provide needed capital.
Collateral, personal guarantees, credit score and financial statements are required. Compare terms like APR, repayment schedule, fees and limits to find the best option.
Use loans judiciously to expand specific business needs like equipment purchases, not to fund general expenses long-term. Interest expenses add up quickly.
Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo let you raise smaller amounts from a large pool of investors. People contribute to your campaign in return for future products, rewards or equity.
Excitement and momentum drive successful campaigns. Create a video showing your idea and team’s passion. Offer compelling rewards for different contribution tiers. Spread the word.
Crowdfunding works best for raising a set amount for a specific product. It may not fund long-term growth. Manage supporter expectations carefully regarding delivery dates.
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Grants and Contests
Federal and state governments, universities, foundations and organizations provide grants and contests for certain types of startups to promote economic growth.
For example, Small Business Innovation Research grants support tech and science startups. State and local organizations fund community development startups.
Find grants relevant to your industry and impact area. Enter contests like SXSW Pitch and Rise of the Rest for investment prizes.
Never rely on any single funding source. As your startup evolves, tap the options most relevant for your current stage and goals. With early wins and strategic funding, you can fuel growth over time.