I'm making what I guess you'd call a website startup, at it's current state, I can do all the developing myself and I have a design coming along from my partner. Overheads will never exceed the cost of hosting and marketing - which I will probably do without spending any money any way.
I have not looked around anywhere for investment as we simply don't need any starting cash due to our combined skillset. My main concern however is that I will not reap the benefits of having a proper investment with experienced people behind it. I'm reading up about all these startups (with less prospects that my site imho) that are getting large investments and it certainly creates buzz.
Are there other worthwhile things companies get out of proper investments aside from cash that I will miss out on? Will this outweigh the fact I'll own the entire company?
Shop for evaluation feedback. Convincing investors is just a step earlier to convincing the mass of your customers, so the effort will pay back, since convincing your mass market is going to be much more expensive (you don't show mockups anymore, but real products).
The other thing investors being to the table besides money is
The downsides are:
So, I think it is worth some of your time to attend events and say hello, practice you pitch, see if there is interest both on the spot and more importantly on the followup ... You don't have to commit till you sign on the dotted line.
There are two costs for seeking funding that should not be underestimated.
1) Time: Prepare and talk with all of these people regarding funding. Don't underestimate the amount that this is going to take.
2) Dilution: I realize you are suggesting to not get funds but you are going to have to show a business plan that needs funds in order and will prove to be profitable. So the only significant reason to look for funding is to get funding.
I suggest look at the SBA sight or the local business college and find help through them. Frequently there are programs to give business insight to start ups that are free. This will give you business councel which it sounds like is your real motivator for looking for outside funds. Yes they won't have a stake in it so their advice won't be the same but you can cut right to getting suggestions to problems rather than taking the time and effort to look for funding so you can then get advice.
1. You need Money As much as you believe you can bootstrap, understand that in most cases you will need funding at some point, even if not now. It is very rare that a company becomes a great success story without funding. Since it can take many months to network with VC's let alone close a deal, start as early as possible. If you wait till you really need funding, it might be too late. There are countless stories of companies nearing the end of their lives just to be saved (literally) by last minute funding, let alone companies that ultimately met their demise because they ran out of runway - see EverNote as an example.
2. You need Advice Even if you truly don't need the money, know that good VC's tend to be AWESOME advisors. It sounds like this is going to be your first startup? Definitely pitch to VC's. Tell them you don't think you need the money now but that you know it might be necessary 6 months down the road and you'd love to build the relationship with them. Then pitch them! If VC's like your idea, that's a reaaally good sign, and it is worth spending the time to get reassurance from an expert. If not, you're gonna be very grateful for the criticism they throw your way. They will grill your business idea left and right and make you question yourself. You will walk away from the pitch feeling like you got FREE advice.