If you need cash for launching your project, you might also consider participating in open grant calls announced on the local, national, and international level. There are multiple programs available at any point in time, and they usually don’t involve giving away any shares in your company. It might give an impression that free money is just lying on the street waiting to be picked up.
However, mind that in most cases, winning grant competitions is not as easy as it might seem. Firstly, grant proposals are assessed by committees which rate proposals according to some internal guidelines. There is usually a list of mainstream topics that are promoted and supported more than others as the government believes that they are currently more essential to the economy than other topics.
For instance, in 2020, the number of public grant programs dedicated to designing new vaccines and new education programs aiming at promoting diversity and inclusivity has largely increased due to the socioeconomic situation. Currently, disciplines such as, e.g., AI, machine learning, cryptography, quantum computing, ecology, are also on top.
If your business plan does not fall into any of these categories, chances are that your grant applications will be rated low. Remember that in the public grant programs, the money-making potential of your project is secondary compared to the societal implications of the project—and these are subjectively assessed by a number of anonymous experts whom you will never meet.
Moreover, today, most companies and public institutions hire professional freelancers and professional agencies to write grant proposals for them, e.g., in an exchange for a commission root the grant. There is a whole industry around it! Public grant proposals usually require writing between 20-100 pages of text (that’s no joke!).
It means that you might waste a month of your life to take part in a competition in which you don’t stand any chances right from the get-go—as you compete against teams of professionals who went through the process hundreds of times and know perfectly well what jargon and arguments will score the most points from the jury.
And even if the miracle happens and you land your grant, then usually, it is only the beginning of your effort. Public grants usually require regular reporting the progress, the milestones and the results until the end of the project. The reporting in itself can become a full-time job!
You could also consider participating in open competitions for startups organized by the government. Usually, these competitions require less effort than grant calls. You need to apply and if you are invited to pitch, you can give a presentation about your startup in front of the committee and live audience—with a chance of winning an equity-free prize (which can be as high as $50,000 or more). The downside of this option is that, usually, hundreds of startups compete for the same prize.