A pre-launch raise is really hard but not impossible. I raised a seed round for a mobile app that hasn't launched but it was quite honestly incredibly difficult and I wouldn't recommend others trying it!
I answered a question about when is best to raise under what circumstances here: https://clarity.fm/a/3484
I have helped many Clarity members with early-stage fundraising advice and would be happy to talk to you about what makes most sense for you and your company.
It is very difficult to get funding for an app that has not launched yet (there are some exception of course). Your potential investor does not know whether the app has a market or not. Besides most savvy investors are not looking for a product, they are looking for a business to invest in. You have to remember that a single app does not make a company. So, it is better to think in terms of how the company will established and grow its market share. It is better to confirm a product-market fit and gain traction within your target market before asking for funding. This has two advantages: Investor has confidence that app will do well in the marketplace and the company has a future, also you as an entrepreneur you can retain more equity in your app/company.
How close is the app to completion?
If it's almost done you should really do a soft-launch and prove some of your assumptions out (see http://blog.tapstream.com/post/71538606229/the-art-of-soft-launching ).
Otherwise, it takes a strong track record in building successful apps to impress investors, or some very unique domain expertise. The mobile app space is extremely competitive.
A ray of hope, however, for every app entrepreneur with restricted funds is to get investors’ interest. An optimistic misconception among the would-be-entrepreneurs is that investors will automatically invest in a great app idea. Before you start making a list of prospective investors or binge-watching Shark Tank, decide the funding you need for your app. The more funds you raise, the more you give away your company at the initial stage of the business. A good starting point of accurate estimation can be to know the average mobile app development cost. These questions will give you an estimate of how much effort you will have to put behind raising money for start-up. Generally, the maximum amount goes into funding for mobile app development and the rest will go into the other two questions. The next part of solidifying an app idea is to build an MVP. A Minimum Viable Product will ensure that your idea works and solves the real problem. It is an app version built with key features with an intent to help you raise money/. The last stage of validating or solidifying your app idea is setting up a charge and checking whether people are willing to pay for it.
You should always dive into the pitching process with the assumption that the investors will only give you 30 seconds of their time for listening to the app idea. An important part of answering where to find app start-up investors lies in understanding how the investment rounds are structured. Now that you have gotten insights into the first part of how to raise money for an app idea, getting a list of investors should be the next thing on your agenda. There are numerous investors to get funding for an app from but not everyone is the right fit. AngelList is a website that has more than 40,000 investors but you should pick only the top 40 or so to get your app funded. Other websites to find investors for app ideas are Funded. Com, Angel Investment Network. Referrals are a great way to see investors so if you know someone who knows an investor, ask them to help you. Angel investors and venture capitalists are the first options that a start-up app development company advises to their clients. Angel investors do not generally ask for much business control in exchange for the money they give and that gives you more freedom. Funding the business, yourself in the initial stage will give you great benefits since you will have complete control over the business. Crowdfunding for mobile apps means raising money from a pool of investors where each one is offering a small sum of money.
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call: https://clarity.fm/joy-brotonath