Six Ways to Demonstrate Traction When You’re Pre-Revenue

For those uninitiated, fundraising can be an extremely hard and tedious process, especially when the goalposts are consistently moving. It gets even harder for those who are pre-revenue, as that’s one less metric at your disposal to show that customer value what you’re building and have the willingness to pay. If you haven’t made that first dollar, all is not lost. Let’s dive into a few ways that you can still show traction even if you aren’t generating revenue, yet. 

*Disclaimer: Obviously, this will look different depending on the industry or type of business. 

Grow the Team

Headcount isn’t always the most accurate signifier of growth, and is definitely a lot harder to do when you’re pre-revenue, especially if you’ve yet to raise significant capital. As the Founder, you need to be a great salesperson. If you've been able to sell talented people on the vision and convince them to join you, chances for success increase exponentially. 


Letters of Intent are one of the strongest levers to help you show traction and value within your target demographic. These are non-binding, written agreements between two parties stating a mutual intent to negotiate a deal in the future and can be used to build relationships with buyers, strengthen your brand image, and increase visibility for your product or service. Beyond just customers, LOIs can be great for vendors and suppliers as well as channel and strategic partners. Securing LOIs will give potential investors confidence that you can execute on your go-to-market strategy and perform well in the future.

Waitlist Signups 

 While not the strongest indicator, having a deep waitlist does show that there’s potentially a need for the product and a loose commitment to use/purchase when launched. Challenges here including making sure you don’t lose those potential customers to other solutions in the time it takes to launch as well as converting those on the waitlist to customers once you do launch. 


This could be new users, beta users, and my personal favorite, active users. Growing DAUs/MAUs are a sign of stickiness and it's much easier to flip the switch on monetization when you have an already active user base.

Earned Media 

Earned media is a great way to show traction if you're still in the earlier stages of startup and haven't yet generated revenue. Earned media includes free publicity and other exposure that's not paid for, like your customers recommending you to friends, or a journalist writing about your product because he or she thinks it's cool. If there's enough earned media associated with the startup story, investors will take notice because this indicates high demand for what you offer: More demand = more potential future sales & revenue = better investment opportunity!


With the exception of a few capital-intensive sectors (MedTech, Hardware, Bio, etc.) using not having raised capital as the reason to not have, at minimum, the most basic iteration of your product built can be a non-starter. With so many low-cost solutions to ship an MVP (Figma, Bubble, Webflow, Airtable, Softr.), even if it’s just a clickable prototype, there’s no reason for you to show up to a meeting with just an idea and nothing else.

While nothing beats customer revenue, it’s not the only metric that can be used to show that you’re on to something, so don’t be discouraged if you haven’t quite cracked that code just yet.

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