You’ve got some choices here. Depending on which market you’re entering or your own location on planet earth, you’re going to have different sets of options when looking for capital. The following covers these options and discusses when to use them.
There are many good online resources for finding investors, such as angel.co, where you can find a cross section of the investment landscape. If you’re looking for something specific, here are a few categories:
FFF/3F - Friends, Family and Fools
Later stage investors
Friends, Family, and Fools
These are the people you know - you should go to them in the beginning when you have little to show apart from yourself. The people who will invest are those who know you (except for Fools - who don’t have a better option to put their money in) and that’s what matters.
This is a person who invests in a business venture, providing capital for startup or expansion. Angel investors are typically individuals who have spare cash available and are looking for a higher rate of return than would be given by more traditional investments. An Angel usually looks for a return of 25x or more on his investment.
Seed capital is the initial capital used when starting a business, often coming from the founders’ personal assets, friends or family, for covering initial operating expenses and attracting venture capitalists. This type of funding is often obtained in exchange for an equity stake in the enterprise, although with less formal contractual overhead than standard equity financing.
Later stage investors
Capital provided after commercial manufacturing and sales but before any initial public offering. The product or service is in production and is commercially available. The company demonstrates significant revenue growth, but may or may not be showing a profit. It has usually been in business for more than three years
When you’re down on cash and need to survive. Also, when you have a business model that shows recurring revenue, signed contracts for the future, or you need to finance a development and marketing push, and are really certain you will succeed and don’t need to give up equity.
Family monetary transactions can be tricky, because the reciprocity is usually unknown and may become problematic somewhere down the line. Also, if your parents aren’t Bill and Melinda, and the money they give you is the only money they have, be cautious of how you are using it.
An Initial Coin Offering (ICO) is a relatively new, sometimes controversial option involving cryptocurrencies. Companies may raise funds by offering digital coins to investors. Read more here.
As much as fulfills the business plan for the amount of time you need the money. For example, if you ask for $1 million and there’s a roadmap attached to it, when fulfilled, your company has a higher value and you’re more trustworthy for future investors. Thus you will raise money for a higher valuation. If you ask for too much and you are successful, you gave up too much equity at a lower valuation.
Ideally your national investment agency can connect you with the right people and give you free advice. If you don’t have this option, join online groups that revolve around that subject and ask for help.