Getting seed funding is no easy task for a startup or entrepreneur--and it's where many people start second-guessing themselves. In fact, some of these seed funding wins rival big pharma whistleblower payouts when it comes to millions and billions of dollars mentioned. Whether it's done via crowdfunding or an angel investor, getting money behind your entrepreneurial ventures is one of the biggest hurdles you'll face. Need some inspiration?

Take a look at some of the biggest seed funding wins in recent years. Many have noted the fact that venture capitalists have moved into seed rounds more aggressively in recent years, and that the size of seed rounds has increased overall. Knowing which companies have been particularly successful can help you find the right investment direction for your own startup. After all, if you notice a trend and you fit the niche, that's a sign that either there's money out there to be secured or perhaps the pool is drying up. Remember that timing, how well you explain your idea, and networking also play huge roles, so it's not only about how "good" your idea, product, or company is.

1. Lucas Duplan's Clinkle app

At just 21 years old, Lucas Duplan has already secured $25 million from a group of Silicon Valley investors for his Clinkle app (which hadn't even launched when that first $25 million was secured in 2013). It's a mobile payment app that he developed while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Stanford. The company finally began releasing its product in late 2014. Clinkle is said to have broken the record for the biggest seed funding round in Silicon Valley, and counts Andreessen Horowitz, Owen Van Natta, and Mark Benioff amongst its investors.

2. Flow Stream Solutions

Based in Manhattan, Flow Stream Solutions secured $5 million in seed funding for its enterprise software solution. The total capital raised was $6.5 million (so you can see just how astounding Duplan's seed funding total really was). Earmarked for operational expenses, the big investors here were Trident Capital and Scout Ventures. The software helps major companies connect, curate, and communicate in an era of big data.

3. The Minerva Project

Dubbed an "elite university," The Minerva Project also raised $25 million in seed funding, solely from Benchmark Capital. Based in San Francisco, the company's goal is to reinvent higher education in the U.S. with what founders say is a greater focus on intelligence and academics. Citizenship, lineage, sports, or money have no influence on admissions decisions. Founders say it's all about finding the brightest students anywhere in the world, and then prepping them for thriving in the real world.

4. Andrej Nabergoj's Iddiction app

This Slovenian entrepreneur secured a $3.5 million "mega-seed" for his discovery app, which was timed well. It came out around the time that the curation, discovery, and sharing now so popular with content marketers began to move more into the mainstream. A number of investors added "angel-style" investments in small amounts, but it was still seed funding that made up this impressive figure.

5. Rap Genius

As one of well-known seed accelerator Y Combinator's startups, Rap Genius credits confidence as their means of getting their website, business, and presence in front of some of the biggest investors imaginable. Before securing $1.8 million in seed funding, the business was rejected multiple times on a variety of platforms (including Y Combinator the first time around). It takes months, even years, to build relationships, which is what Rap Genius learned the hard way.

A big seed funding win sometimes makes an unproven company look like an overnight success when you read headlines. However, there are a lot of obstacles, risks, and leaps of faith before the reporters show up. Keep that in mind if you're an entrepreneur, and don't get frustrated if no investors show up for you right away. The future of startups is one where you have to get to know your potential users as well as investors, and try a little A/B testing to see if you can draw them in.

Published on: Jan 21, 2015