How I raised a Pre-Seed round. 10 things you should know.

Zuleyka Strasner
4 min readJan 17, 2020

Raising venture capital is hard. Though some have it easier than others, the road is long and bumpy. People raise money in different ways. Some (like me) have a lead check from a pre-seed fund and fill it out with angels, some construct a syndicate of all angels, and others skip this altogether and raise a “traditional” Seed round. There is no right answer, but here are the 10 things I did to raise my pre-seed round:

  1. I met a lot of people: By a lot, I mean a LOT. Some were formal pitches and others were just meetings to brainstorm with friends. All of them, however, were a chance to pitch. Over the space of 4 months, I pitched 263 times and tracked every single interaction — who I met, when, what they said, the outcome of the meeting, and the action coming out of the meeting. Pitching as many times as possible gives you the chance to identify weaknesses in both your presentation and the business. These are invaluable insights that you can’t afford to miss!
  2. I found my tribe: When I met Charles Hudson, the Founding Partner of Precursor Ventures, he immediately understood me, my company, and our mission. Charles asked me questions others wouldn’t, in a way others didn’t, and I found myself telling him things about myself, my authentic self and what drives me, that I didn’t normally tell others. Charles quickly learned about my background, my upbringing, and my life, not just my business model. I found a home with Charles and the Precursor team.
  3. I met angels in trusted places: In friends’ homes or at events/causes in which I believed, I was positioned to meet people who would authentically connect with what I was building. And you guessed it — I pitched. I told people as much about my company as they were willing to hear. Being in a mutually comfortable place not only helps you connect deeply with people, but also helps build trust between you and potential investors from the start.
  4. I sent signals: This is key. I made sure the people I wanted to meet heard about me from multiple trusted sources. This validated the company because they could begin to build trust through our common connections. This entire process must be authentic, however, which is why it is important that the signal-senders are believers in what you are building. Asking tepid connections to champion you will leave a bitter taste in everyone’s mouth. However, if I shared what I was doing and they were excited about it, I wanted them to signal away. I often ran into a challenge where I didn’t have networks in certain places and struggled to forge them. This isolates many and creates hierarchies in the startup world. Having a “tribe” and fearlessness (see #9) in the face of having to strike cold connections are key to breaking through this.
  5. I had “champions”: Outside of the signal-sending “champions” I describe above, I had others around me. It wasn’t necessarily about investment, I just loved telling someone what I was doing. If they were excited — I mean really, genuinely excited, then they would make intros, help me raise, and provide guidance as the friendship grew. Few people are true champions, but they are an indispensable part of growing a business. These people are my friends and my fuel, they listen to me moan about my struggles and brainstorm with me while I keep it 100 with them. In short, you cannot achieve this alone.
  6. I had data: Despite appearances, most companies don’t raise with just an idea. Ok sure, some might, but not me. I may have had no team and no money, but I had data. I spent 6 months alpha testing the early version of Zero. I was working from my apartment (cue cliché) getting real sign-ups, servicing real customers and doing a lot of growth hacking. It was really janky, but going between research reports, market data and the data I was collecting from real-people, I had something tangible to put under investors noses to back up how Zero looks at scale.
  7. I knew exactly what to do with the funds once I raised them: I was able to clearly explain how I would spend the cash. I could detail how much runway it would provide, what my Seed would look like and my overall spending plans. Every round of capital is a vehicle to get to the next round. This was my first car. Investors need to see your plan for their capital — being able to explain the details of your vision brings it to life for your soon-to-be-champions.
  8. I had a hiring plan: I didn’t have specific people lined up, but I had a hiring pipeline and general profiles that I wanted. This included relevant experience, skillset, and background. I was able to share as much as possible about the team I would build with the funds. Just like having a capital allocation plan, a hiring plan is crucial. Your team can make or break you as an early stage company, and knowing the skills that your company needs to scale is a key piece of the puzzle for investors.
  9. I had little fear, and lots of fun: My fundraising mindset was this: at best, I’d get funded. At worst, I would just go get a new job. I had little shame about the process and a whole lot of tenacity. I got good at hearing no and being judged in every way possible, but still smiling and saying thank you. Perhaps it’s cliché, but I learned something from every interaction. I see fear as a potential blocker from important meetings and conversations — be proud of what you are building, you never know who you’ll meet!
  10. I didn’t give up.



Zuleyka Strasner

Founder & CEO @zerogrocery_ | London —> Silicon Valley