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A seed round is a type of equity funding stage where an investor invests capital in a startup company in exchange for an equity stake in the company. This is typically one of the earliest sources of external funding a startup will seek after or sometimes alongside the initial “bootstrap” phase, which is usually funded by the founders themselves, friends, and family.

The seed round is aimed at funding the early stages of a company’s development, including:

  • Product Development: Finalizing and refining prototypes, or developing a minimum viable product (MVP).
  • Market Research: Understanding potential customer demographics, demand, and defining the market fit for the product.
  • Building a Team: Hiring key staff to start operations, develop the product, and manage initial marketing and sales efforts.
  • Initial Marketing and Branding: Creating brand awareness and validating the business model through early marketing campaigns.

Investors in seed rounds often include:

  • Angel investors: High net-worth individuals who provide capital for a business start-up, usually in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity.
  • Seed Venture Capital Funds: Specialized VC firms focused on early-stage investments.
  • Incubators and Accelerators: Organizations designed to help startups grow through mentorship, capital, and resources.
  • Friends and Family: Personal connections who offer early support, usually with more favorable terms due to the relationship.

The amount of money raised during a seed round can vary greatly, ranging from tens of thousands to several million dollars, depending on the industry, the market potential of the startup, and its current stage of product development.

Investment in a seed round is typically considered high risk because the business model and revenue streams may not yet be proven. To compensate for this risk, seed investors generally receive equity in the company at a lower valuation, with the expectation that the value of their shares will increase as the company grows.

After the seed round, a startup may progress to additional rounds of funding (Series A, Series B, etc.) as it develops and requires more capital to scale operations.