When raising funds for a start-up with a working prototype/alpha product, should you refrain from asking for a specific amount? Or should you provide a preferred amount, and a backup plan for a smaller amount? I've read experts' opinions going both ways, so I'm wondering what you all think.
IMHO, you should present the minimum amount required to reach next milestone. Less than that and you cannot make this business happen. More than that amount, and you could develop it faster, it could grow faster, etc.
Be sure that if you do not give those numbers and if your pitch and your business opportunity is great, then you will have to answer:
Most of VCs know that those numbers are often not that accurate, in particular because startup founders tend to be optimistic. However, this shows that you did your homework and that you can get your hands dirty.
At the end, if they like the business opportunity you are offering them, they will spend time on your business plan, make adjustements to your future team, and the final amount they will invest could be much larger than what you asked at the beginning.
I hope this helps.
PS: Presenting a backup plan is risky as it shows that you are not 100% confident in your business... Not presenting a backup plan is risky as it shows that you did not think to all potential events that could occur "outside" your business... Have fun^^