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Terms you need to know in the pre-seed and seed stages of a startup

Startup funding is a beast of its own. To navigate this space effectively, you need to stay up-to-date with the funding language.

Terms you need to know in the pre-seed and seed stages of a startup

Sunday July 09, 2023 , 5 min Read

They say, “The beginning is always the hardest,” and the same stands true when it comes to entrepreneurship. The first step towards launching a startup, the first pitch deck, and the first fund-raise are all crucial to what the future holds.

And in the pulsating ecosystem of startup funding, pre-seed and seed funding stages provide the essential nourishment for budding ventures to germinate and flourish. 

In this article, we unravel the intricacies of pre-seed and seed funding, demystifying the important terminology that surrounds these pivotal phases. From ideation to seed rounds to Series A and Series B funding, there are several stages involved in the journey of a startup. 

Additional read: How to start a startup in India with no money

1. Pre-seed funding

Pre-seed funding is the earliest stage of funding for a startup.  Often, it happens pre-market fit and pre-revenue too. This stage is about sharing ideas with potential investors. The money can be used for market research, making the initial prototype or getting the essential infrastructure in place.

Often, pre-seed funding involves the investment of one’s own money and receiving contributions from friends and family. Many angels and venture capitalists also invest small amounts in early-stage startups. The key is to find someone who has an interest in your startup and is confident about its success. 

2. Seed funding

Seed funding is the first official equity funding stage. Startups go through seed funding when they are figuring out the details of their business model and have exhausted their pre-seed funds.

At this stage, startups will need to have a functional prototype and prove potential revenue to secure funds. Angel investors and venture capitalists are good sources to turn to at this stage. 

3. Accelerators

An accelerator provides early-stage startups with financing, education, mentorship, and resources to help them grow into self-sustaining businesses. Usually, accelerators accept startups which have an established business model. 500 Startups, Indian Angel Network and TLabs are some of the best startup accelerators in India. 

Additional read: Here’s what Google’s startup accelerator is up to

4. Scalability

The capacity of a business to grow and increase its revenue is defined by scalability. Having measures in place to handle increased demand such as having infrastructure and technology are some of the ways of scaling a startup.

5. Financial projections

Financial projections in a startup are estimates of the company's future financial performance. They show how the startup plans to make money, manage expenses, and become profitable. It includes revenue projections, costs, gross profit, operating income, net income, and cash flow projections.

Financial projections help with planning, fundraising, and assessing the business's feasibility. Keep in mind that projections are based on assumptions and should be updated regularly. Seeking professional advice is recommended for accuracy.

6. Market analysis 

Market analysis is vital for startups as it helps them gain insights into the target market, industry trends, and competition. The key steps involved are:

  1. Identifying the target market on the basis of factors like age, gender, location, income level, and interests.
  2. Assessing the market size and growth potential through industry reports, research, and trend analysis.
  3. Understanding customer needs and preferences through surveys, interviews, or focus groups.
  4. Analysing competition to differentiate the startup and develop effective marketing strategies.
  5. Staying updated with market trends, emerging technologies, and regulatory changes.
  6. Figuring out pricing and revenue models by analysing competitors' strategies.
  7. Choosing the right distribution channels to reach customers effectively.
  8. Identifying entry barriers such as competition, regulations, costs, or intellectual property protection.

A market analysis team helps startups make informed decisions, develop products, plan marketing efforts, and cater to customer needs. By understanding the market landscape, startups can position themselves for success and gain a competitive edge.

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7. Incubator

A non-profit or for-profit organization which enables startups to formulate their business idea into a self-sufficient business is an incubator. Incubators provide investors with services such as office space, mentoring and access to investors. Investors get opportunities to build and test prototypes to find the right product-market fit using incubators.

8. Growth stage

The stage at which startups refine their products, business strategies and teams is known as the growth stage. Startups may also seek funding from venture capital firms at this stage.

9. Term sheet

A term sheet is a formal, non-binding document between startup founders and investors. It defines the terms of investment. They are just used as a starting point for investments and do not guarantee an investment.

10.  Angel investor

An angel investor is a high-net-worth individual who provides funds for early-stage startups, usually in exchange for equity. Their focus is more on supporting the growth of businesses rather than on potential returns. Angel investments are typically around $600,000.

11.  Venture capitalist

A venture capitalist is an investor who seeks out and supports startups with high growth potential. They provide financial backing to these companies in exchange for a share of ownership. Venture capitalists make these investments with the expectation of achieving favourable returns as the startup expands and succeeds. 

Since more than 9 out of 10 startups fail, venture capitalists are very particular about their investments since they know they are making a risky business investment that may or may not generate returns in future. Venture capital firms usually show an interest in trending startups which will help fast-forward the path to their goals. Unlike angel investors, most venture capitalists invest for a living.

Also Read
Kalaari Capital launches fellowship programme to groom leaders in the VC space

12.  Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is appealing to a bunch of people to invest in an idea. When you want to crowdfund your startup, you can reach out to the general public, usually via the internet, to pitch your idea and receive financial support. Typically, this is not a loan or an investment with interest. People come together to support an idea. 

If you wish, you can choose to repay those who fund your idea. Crowdfunding typically works for startups with a social focus. 

Want to know more startup terms? Here is a compilation of the top terms you should know as an entrepreneur.