What is a 'Seed Investment'?
"A seed round, sometimes known as a friends and family round or seed funding, is a securities offering whereby one or more parties that have some connection to a new enterprise invest the funds necessary to start the business so that it has enough funds to sustain itself for a period of development until it reaches either a state where it is able to continue funding itself, or has created something in value so that it is worthy of future rounds of funding."
They are sometimes referred to as a "3F" investment, that is family, friends and fools. Most entrepreneurs fund their pre-start-up with their credit cards and or personal savings. Upon 'starting' the venture other people may invest and this is called a 'Seed Investment'
Each venture is unique but they often follow a similar path.
There are three at least major rounds of funding a venture and often they overlap.
0. Pre-start up
3. Professional (VC / IPO / Strategic)
There is a new class of 'institutional' seed investors that offer small amounts of capital, typically under US$20,000 to gain approximately 6% of your company. This model was originally developed by Paul Graham and Y Combinator
List of 'Institutional' Seed Investors: