Investment Banker, advisor, venture capitalist, technologist and futurologist. Started a VC firm while I did operations for a hedge fund.
Build an investment thesis where you have a substantial plan, estimate returns with backed up numbers, know EVERYTHING about that market and make sure you're ready to start another 40 hour job on top of your current one. It is way more work then you'll think if you're doing proper diligence and sourcing. Well over a normal work week.
Like everyone said, mattermark. Especially if you're working on a project and not doing it professionally. You can also follow crunchbase or websites like built in chicago. They will give you insight into companies who have raised recently and how much.
However true VC's aren't looking at websites to follow trends, they are looking for patterns in the market that haven't yet emerged and are looking to follow a path. As example Google Ventures has pushed heavily into healthcare tech, now you're starting to see a lot of follow-on investors.
If you get into techstars they take 7-10% for $118k which is about a ~$1M valuation. If you're pre money, Seed investors usually cap their valuation at $4-6M, so depending on how much you need is how much they are going to get. That said VC's tend to have a much better run rate then angels. They tend to help you more with further rounds. Really good incubators (only a handful of them exist) can also help further your secondary raises, startups tend to raise on average $2m after graduating.
But the real question is why do you need funding? Are you ready for funding? What is the use of funds directed into?
Why are you trying to raise private equity? This isn't something they would normally invest in. Sounds like you should look to raise capital from angels.
My experience raising capital for films has been very different from my venture experience. All my institutional investor colleagues have said raising capital for films is out of the question. However non institutional investors look for trophy investments in films, these people mostly run in the angel groups. They just want to be a part of something fun.
Also what is your hesitation with a crowdfunding campaign? Do you have a following already, if so how many users? Why would I want to invest into you?
What city are you in? Are you talking about your product or do you keep it secret?
Finding a team is one of the most difficult parts. Make sure you ask friends of friends if they are interested. People often forget to tap their network to find talent. There are a lot of events that help find startup co-founders. Cofounders lab does a meetup group, you might want to check that out.
Hope this helps.
Finish high school first. Never burn bridges and at this time you wouldn't want to do that with your parents. But in the mean time find a niche in a space and devote 100% of your extra energy to it. When I was 15 I had just finished rewiring my entire high school's ethernet system. I brought on 5 other kids my age during the summer and we had guidance from some older staff who showed us the ropes and let us go and do whatever we had to, to get the project done.
Throughout the whole process I learned to ask question and not be afraid to try and fail. My point to telling you this is that with $500 you've got very little to lose. You can always deliver pizzas and make that back in a few weeks. So don't be afraid to try something really crazy to get you somewhere. Also remember to ask for help, advice and be HUMBLE.
Read about starting businesses online, I would say read some books, but with such a limited budget you're better off saving your money for your business. Don't forget to take notes! It helps retain the information you read.
This is such a broad question. If you want a list, here is a list: http://www.entrepreneur.com/vc100
There is so much more to your question. Do you have revenue, do you have a current business, have you designed clothing before, have you manufactured clothing, there are so many things that I'd ask you to get a better idea of what investor you'd want to go after. However there are plenty of "lists" out there.
First, don't be nervous. VC's are obviously looking for numbers. While base line numbers are important, there are obviously other factors. You have to explain what was accomplished in the month. IE building a product, getting X done with the process, or how what you did will get you to the next stage, is important. If you tried something and it didn't work, thats okay too. However you need to explain how your mistakes won't happen again and give a detailed explanation on how you've fixed those mistakes. Throughout the entire process don't answer too much. What I mean is, make sure you focus on the good and answer their questions but don't go too far off topic on what they are asking you about.
If at anytime they say they need to move on, its okay. But don't let go. Ask them if you can still keep them updated and if at a further point when you have more traction, if you can ask for another meeting. Good luck!