How do I raise investment for a startup with no customers and no revenue?
It’s generally very difficult to raise investment for a startup with no customers and no revenue, because you have a lot of competition — there are usually other startups out there that do have customers and revenue and are also looking for investment.
However, there’s at least three ways to go:
- Find a way to grow customers and revenue without investment, even if it means selling something related-but-different to that which you want to do with your startup, for a while;
- Raise investment from people who know you from previous successful ventures, professional roles or personal relationships — people who might know you well enough to invest in you, rather than invest in your idea. This is sometimes referred to as a “friends and family” round; or the hardest way…
- Invent something really valuable. Not just a better mousetrap, but a way of genetically engineering mice so they never go inside buildings. There are many successful startups worth a lot of money which never invented anything really valuable — for example, AirBnB built a hugely valuable company but the code in their two-sided marketplace platform didn’t do anything significantly better than the code in other two-sided marketplaces, at the beginning. But if your startup begins with some truly novel, valuable breakthrough in how important things work, that can be used to raise money if you can show how it might be commercialised. If you or your cofounder aren’t a scientist, mathematician or physicist, this third option probably isn’t for you.
If your current startup idea can’t be funded from one of these three options, you may need to keep this idea in your back pocket and start working on a new idea. Best of luck!