So far the best we could come up with was enroll in idea pitching competitions, government grants, and as we are undergraduates we applied to some school programs that allow for seed funding
I was wondering how have you raised money in the past/ do you have any ideas to raise money without needing to give up equity.
1. The best way to raise money, is to get money (or equivalents) from customers. There are many ways of doing this such as prepayments, kickstarter crowdfunding, even taking loans and investment from customers.
2. The next best way is to get money (or equivalents) is from partners, suppliers or vendors.
3. The third best way is to get money, is to do an equity crowdfunding (under Regulation CF and Regulation A+) from prospective customers and customer evangelists. You can do this in the form of revenue participation certificates. truCrowd (truCrowd.com) will help you issues revenue participation certificates under under Regulation CF and Regulation A+.
4. "Money (or Equivalents)". "Equivalents" means whatever it is you would spend investor money on. It can be services that would otherwise be delivered by your own employees or contractors. It could be sharing an exhibit at a trade show. It could be office space or marketing services. Just think... "on what exactly do I want to spend investor money?"
5. Revenue Participation Certificates. The investor gets a 2x or 3x return on investment in exchange for a portion of gross revenue over a period of years. Typically after a 1 or 2 year grace period.
Hustle. Get a job and save every cent. Sell every valuable thing you dont need (which is almost everything other than maybe your cell phone, computer and vehicle). Do odd jobs for extra cash. Eat only ramen or spaghetti for dinner. Don't go out to eat or out to concerts.
As a startup founder you will be spending the vast majority of your time for the next few years working on the business. Likely far more than 40 hours a week. If you cant manage it now, then you never will. So start doing it now! If you need a million dollars to start working on your company you are starting the wrong company, its likely you need far less than you actually believe. Once you have a product built that is viable, you will be ready to start raising actual funding rounds and won't need to be asking these questions on CoFounders Lab.
Get yourself incubated by well know bodies in your place. Ofcourse there are rounds of screening involved and as you pass each stage you will get more insight on your business model be it anything. Your business plan/model will become solid.
Get some customers who are willing to pay for your services/solutions/products which will give you great boost in getting funding.
All the very best!