While crowdfunding sites have opened the door for many entrepreneurs who couldn't otherwise obtain outside financing, they are still not the best option for everyone. Case in point: those entrepreneurs with a highly confidential business model. However, you shouldn't always consider the absolute worst-case scenario when sharing your ideas with others. A crowdfunding site may provide you with instant market feedback that you may not gain from an individual investor or a consortium of angel investors. So what are your other options?
Have you reached out to accredited investors in the angel community? Nowadays, there are many online angel communities, such as AngelList and Gust, that provide early-stage companies with immediate access to accredited investors and vice versa.
Incubators and accelerator programs can also be very helpful. The notable ones of late include Y Combinator and Techstars, but there are many popping up across the country. They typically provide only a limited amount of capital, up to $25,000, but you'll have access to very sophisticated investors who are itching to invest in startups. In many cases, being accepted into one of these programs gives prospective investors comfort that you're working on a "big idea" concept or a product that will be a game-changer in an existing market.
Another option is to seek an introduction to venture capital (VC) firms. Please note that the market has dried up recently and VCs are becoming more and more selective with their funding approach. It's best to try to get a warm introduction to the fund as they are often overloaded with pitches. You'll also want to pursue a VC that has invested in companies in your industry before and has the experience to help your company grow. Do some due diligence; don't just pitch every VC you can.
I hope you find this information helpful in reaching your financing goals. Let us know how it all works out and how you do end up getting funded.
Ryan Himmel, CPA and registered securities analyst, is the founder and CEO of BIDaWIZ.com, a professional network for small businesses and entrepreneurs to obtain trusted advice and services from a team of CPAs, Enrolled Agents, Financial Planners & Tax Attorneys. His team provides answers to the many finance and tax questions that small businesses encounter every day. Ryan has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fox Business and Crain's New York, among other publications. Ryan also regularly contributes to the community with his finance and tax blog.