Money For Startups: Top 10 Seed Funders Of 2013

    By Carol Tice | Small Business

    It's the hardest money for aspiring startup entrepreneurs to get: That very first cash from the investors bold enough to take a chance and get your brand-new business rolling, often while it's still little more than an idea. Thousands of companies pitch investors, and few are chosen.

    Fortunately, 2013 was a robust year for venture capital seed funding, a new survey from investment-research firm CB Insights found.

    The past year's seed-funding activity was on par with 2012, CB found, with 112 active venture capital firms investing in seed-stage companies. There were a few newer funds that rose into the top ranks, though.

    More on Forbes: Inside The $100M Startup: What They Do And Where They Grow

    Here's a look at the ten most active seed-stage venture-capital firms last year. One interesting thing to note here -- in many cases, these VCs teamed up in investing in the startups mentioned below. (Note: The final four entrants actually tie for seventh place in the CB Insights survey.)

    1. 500 Startups -- Founded by Facebook and Paypal investor Dave McClure, the Silicon Valley-based firm offers up to $250,000 in seed funding, entrepreneur events, and an accelerator program. Last year's crop of recipients included Seattle-based construction industry file-sharing firm BuildersCloud, short-term retail lease marketplace Storefront in New York, and San Francisco online registry BabyList.
    2. Andreessen Horowitz -- The storied firm started by Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen and his early hire Ben Horowitz cashed out with its Zulily investment at year-end. Startups it invested in last year include San Francisco nutrition-drink launch Soylent and college-to-career startup Koru in Seattle.
    3. SV Angel -- This San Francisco venture firm focuses on startups in its hometown. Seed investments in 2013 included develop-tools company Ink and developer platform CircleCI.
    4. Lerer Ventures -- New York-based Lerer operates the SohoTechLabs incubator, and invests only in seed-stage companies. Medical video-chat firm Doctor on Demand in San Francisco and Canadian retail-tech firm Tulip were two of Lerer's 2013 investments.
    5. First Round Capital -- With offices in San Francisco, New York, and Philadelphia, First Round only invests in seed-stage companies. "Sequel to SQL" firm Looker in San Francisco and experts-on-video network Grokker in San Jose were two of First Round's 2013 early-money investments.
    6. CrunchFund -- TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington's VC firm made more than 20 seed-level investments last year, including Los Angeles-based artisan florist marketplace BloomNation, and San Francisco news site PandoDaily.
    7. Innovation Works -- This VC focuses mainly on tech companies based in southwestern Pennsylvania. Last year's seed investments included Pittsburgh's BudgetSimple, which offers automated financial planning, and online workplace Sqwiggle in San Francisco.
    8. Atlas Venture -- This Cambridge, Mass.-based VC focuses on tech and life science startups. Investments included hometown startup data-analytics firm Nutonian, and mobile/web developer collaboration marketplace ooomf in Montreal.
    9. Connecticut Innovations -- This state-focused firm concentrates on tech companies and launched a $200 million bioscience fund mid-year. In 2013, two rounds of seed funding went to ReadyDock in West Hartford, which manages secure tablets for hospitals, retailers, and funding also went to electronic data-exchange firm Logicbroker in Shelton.
    10. Founder Collective -- Seed-stage focused Founder is based in Cambridge, Mass., and New York City, but invests worldwide. Startups funded in 2013 include kids' building-set startup Seamless Toy Co. of Boulder, Colo., and social-purchasing firm HeartThis in San Francisco.

    More on Forbes: The 10 Best Venture Capitalist Blogs For Entrepreneurs

    If you're wondering what seed funders are looking for today, you can get a quick education by browsing the funding announcements for these 10 VC leaders to check out dozens of last year's funded companies.

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