20 Ways to Show Revenue Potential Without Any

How leading indicators can help you validate market appetite and raise capital

Steve Glaveski
7 min readSep 13, 2022

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I’ve had the pleasure of working with almost 100 pre-seed startups through my work at Collective Campus and Metarise over the past six years.

Most of them are focused on two questions.

How can I validate my idea before building it?

How can I raise capital if I don’t have any income?

In both cases, leading indicators can be of great help.

Leading indicators, as opposed to lagging indicators, are pieces of data that suggest future behavior.

In the case of early-stage startups, there are numerous leading indicators that suggest future revenue.

While by no means conclusive, the use of the following indicators can help to give both founders and investors more certainty and confidence in a startup’s value proposition and its potential to make money.

1. Whitelist sign-ups

The use of a whitelist, or waitlist, simply pitches your product’s value proposition in very simple terms, and asks visitors to sign up to the waitlist to be the first to know when it goes live.

Buffer famously used this approach to validate appetite for its social media scheduling tool years ago, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The greater the number of people on your waitlist, the greater your confidence in its usefulness, especially if the percentage of people who convert to your list upon visiting your website is high (>10%).

2. Facebook lead form opt-ins

Building off #1, Facebook Ads offer the ability to capture leads on the site, without having to disrupt the user’s experience by navigating them away to your website.

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Steve Glaveski

CEO of Collective Campus. HBR writer. Author of Time Rich, and Employee to Entrepreneur. Host of Future Squared podcast. Occasional surfer.