SBEC Crowdfunding Trends in 2016 Breakfast Event Q&A (Part 2 of 2)

The South Bay Entrepreneurial Center in Torrance, California presented “Crowdfunding Trends in 2016” on May 15, 2016 at the Toyota Auto Museum. Topics included new legislation around crowdfunding (JOBS Act), what entrepreneurs have learned from past campaigns and more about service providers in crowdfunding. In Part 2 of 2, we feature the Q&A session after the panel.

Torrance FTW in Business

BizFed, Los Angeles County Business Federation, released the results of their annual survey of employers this week. Among the key findings were their list of “Most Business Friendly” and “Least Business Friendly” LA County Cities.

The South Bay has reason to be proud. Topping the list was Torrance, followed by Santa Clarita, El Segundo, Burbank, and Long Beach. Topping their list of “Least Business Friendly” cities were Los Angeles and Santa Monica.

If you want to see the results of the entire survey, they’ve posted them on their website.

Crowdfunding and the JOBS Act [Mark Hiraide]

Starting on May 16, 2016, entrepreneurs will be given unprecedented access to capital. For the first time in the history of federal securities regulation, companies will be allowed to take investments – i.e., sell “securities,” such as equity — to the crowd without regarding to investor sophistication. This expansion of the funding universe for cash-starved businesses is the heart and soul of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act of 2012, designed to spur job creation through development of new businesses made possible by fundamental changes in the regulation of private securities offerings. Prior to the JOBS Act, federal and state securities laws did not allow you to conduct crowdfunding offerings – offerings to the public – without registering the offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission in the same way an initial public offering (IPO) is registered with the SEC.

Because “equity crowdfunding” involves selling securities, there are many regulations that come into play, and there may be significant personal liability for violating these regulations. In this post, we cover the basic requirements of equity crowdfunding under the new rules under Title III of the JOBS Act. In another post, we’ll discuss the new methods of raising capital made possible by the JOBS Act and the differences among Titles II, III and IV.

Title III of the JOBS Act: Regulation CF – Equity Crowdfunding

The new rules under Title III are contained in Regulation CF. Under Regulation CF entrepreneurs may raise up to $1 million during any 12 month period from anyone subject to certain dollar limits on the amount an investor may invest. There is no requirement that the investor be accredited or sophisticated. If the investor’s net worth or income is below $100,000, he or she is subject to an investment cap of the greater of: $2,000 or 5% of the lesser of the investor’s annual income or net worth. If both net worth and annual income are at least $100,000, the investment cap is 10% of the lesser of the investor’s annual income or net worth, not to exceed an amount sold of $100,000. These caps reflect the aggregate amount an investor may invest in all offerings under Regulation CF in a 12-month period across all issuers.

An offering statement is required to be made available to prospective investors, and it must contain general information about the issuer, officer and directors and significant shareholders, the intended use of proceeds, the company’s ownership and capital structure and financial statements for the two most recently completed fiscal years. If the offering amount is greater than $100,000 but less than $500,000, the financial statements must be reviewed by an independent accountant. If the offering amount is greater than $500,000, the financial statements must be audited, unless the company is conducting its first Regulation CF offering, in which case the financial statements need only be reviewed.

The offering statement must be filed with the SEC, but it is not reviewed by them. Once the offering statement is filed with the SEC, a process likely to be provided as a service by the internet portal, the offering may immediately commence and the company may accept investor subscriptions.

A significant limitation under Regulation CF is that all offerings must be conducted through a single internet portal, which must either be registered with the SEC as a broker-dealer or as a new form of regulated entity, a “financing portal.” Another significant limitation under Regulation CF is that “general solicitation” is prohibited outside of the portal. All communications and other forms of solicitation must be limited to the registered users of the portal through communication channels provided by the portal. The only exception to the prohibition on general solicitation is a notice of the securities offering that may direct interested persons to the portal, where potential investors may register as a member of the portal to gain access to the Company’s soliciting materials and communications.

A final limitation of any securities offering relates to compensation of persons involved in the solicitation of securities. After all, the old adage, “securities are sold, not purchased,” is as true (if not more true) today than it was in 1933 when Congress first regulated the sale of securities. Companies must be careful when they engage individuals, even employees, to assist in the company’s securities solicitation efforts, those persons may be required to register as broker-dealers with the SEC or state securities administrators.

According to the SEC, “finders,” “business brokers,” and other individuals or entities that engage in finding investors or customers for, making referrals to, or splitting commissions with registered broker-dealers, investment companies (or mutual funds, including hedge funds) or other securities intermediaries. In order to determine whether any of these individuals (or any other person or business) is a broker, the SEC looks at the activities that the person or business actually performs.

May 26: Crowdfunding and the JOBS Act

The JOBS Act legalized equity crowdfunding and private peer-to-peer lending, created a new regime for regulating “mini-IPOs,” and paved the way for the SEC to create new sources of liquidity for early-stage investors through secondary “venture markets.” The law already has spawned new and innovative financial companies dispensing capital to startup and growing businesses. Since its enactment, the JOBS Act has been described as “democratizing” access to capital by “disintermediating” Wall Street from the process of raising capital. Once the SEC’s newly issued rules for equity crowdfunding become final on May 26, everyday people will be able to join crowds of other small investors to directly fund startup businesses that pique their interest.


About the Author

Mark Hiraide: SBEC MentorMark Hiraide is the SBEC board secretary. Mark is a corporate and securities partner with Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp (MSK) in Los Angeles. Mark previously partnered with the late Lee Petillon (co-founder of SBEC) for 20 years at the securities-law boutique Petillon Hiraide LLP. He is an authority on the federal JOBS Act, having testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee evaluating the law designed to help startups raise money. He is the author of a book on crowdfunding just published by Thomson Reuters. And he is working with the California Legislature to pass a state crowdfunding law he drafted.



Joe Platnick: Do They Have a Great Rolodex, Advice and Connections?

A few years ago I wrote a post about evaluating Angel groups and the criteria to use when seeking investment. The list included:

  1. Do they charge fees
  2. Do they actually have capital and a track record of investing their own personal funds
  3. How transparent is their organization and investment process
  4. How do they say ‘no’
  5. Honesty and integrity
  6. Rolodex and connections
  7. Advice
  8. Are they respectful of entrepreneurs
  9. Do they help entrepreneurs, regardless of whether or not they invest
  10. Do they support the local entrepreneurial community

Although charging fees—or pay to play—is a good litmus test for weeding out disreputable angel groups, you’ll also find that for-profit angel groups typically have a poor track record with these other criteria.

Most angel groups have money, and one group’s money isn’t any greener than another’s. Beyond cash, the other ways an angel group adds value to a startup is through great advice and personal connections.

One of the easiest ways to assess an angel investor’s ability to provide advice and connections is to read their bios on their website. High-caliber Angels with a lot of experience at both large and small companies, tend to have strong Rolodexes and skills that can be applied to helping portfolio companies. When reviewing their experience, consider both their work history and the companies they’ve backed as investors.

You can also judge the caliber of the group through your initial experiences, as many Angels provide worthwhile advice and introductions to their networks in the early stages and prior to investing. If you’re further along with an angel group, consider doing more diligence on the group and its members by contacting CEOs of their portfolio companies.

When it comes to connections, one of the most important when evaluating an angel group is links to VCs. Although many of our portfolio companies have told us the Angel round is the last tranche of money they’ll need (and they even say it with a straight face), most startups will invariably require follow-on funds.

William Quigley, a prominent local VC from Clearstone Venture Partners wrote a post years ago, Value of Certain Angel Investors:

As a VC, I divide angel investors into two buckets. The first group includes angel investors who know the space they are investing in. Perhaps they previously started a company in the same industry or were part of a successful company targeting the same market. As it happens, angel investors in this category usually know the VCs who invest in their space and can be a great help in introducing a start up to smart venture capital investors. Better still, these angels typically know the going terms for a start up in their market. Accordingly, they can help the entrepreneur get the best deal warranted given the progress of the business.

The second bucket of angel investors are those who have some spare cash to invest but don’t have any familiarity with the target market. These investors are generally not known by VCs active in the specific market the start up is pursuing. In most cases, they can’t help with follow on fund raising. Because they don’t know what the going VC terms are, they often set terms for their investment that make it harder to raise money in the next round.

VCs can’t know everything about an industry. So how do they get comfortable with a new business? They rely on smart people who are accomplished and well connected in that industry. If someone of that caliber happens to already be an angel in your business, raising venture capital just got a lot easier.

In the current environment, CEOs and entrepreneurs don’t always have a choice when it comes to selecting their investors. However, when you do, it’s important to pick an angel group that can deliver the intangibles, such as advice and network, along with the cash.

Joe Platnick: Fundraising – Do They Charge Fees

Imagine going to a bank or Venture Capital firm and receiving a bill for a few thousand dollars for your first meeting. Imagine also that the requests for payment only get worse the further into their funding process you go. By now you’ve probably figured out that I’m making this up. However, there are Angel groups that operate in a somewhat similar manner.

Here on the west coast there are angel groups that charge $3000+ for the ‘opportunity’ to present your company to them. These organizations are sometimes based on a franchise model and try to extract money from entrepreneurs any way they can. I’ve heard all the excuses from these groups, including that they have to charge entrepreneurs to cover their management expenses. Reputable Angel organizations typically cover their management expenses out of their own pockets and don’t ask struggling company founders to shoulder that burden. In reality the best Angels make money the old fashioned way—working with entrepreneurs to generate investment returns upon exit.

There are a couple of exceptions to this that are worth mentioning. Some reputable Angel organizations charge a nominal fee (~$50-100) to submit a funding application. The intent here is not to use this as a money making opportunity, but to provide a filter or sincerity test for the entrepreneur and to reduce the number of poor and incomplete business plans (aka junk) that get submitted. Secondly—and this applies to the vast majority of Angel groups and VCs—companies receiving funding (and only when that happens) will be asked to cover the investor’s legal expenses (~$15-20k) with the proceeds at the time of closing.

The Angel Capital Association (ACA) has some good guidelines about this on their website. They also “recommend that angel groups charge entrepreneurs no more than nominal fees for applying for and/or making presentations for angel capital and that all fees are fully disclosed, ideally appearing on the group’s Web site.” Since starting in 2000, the Pasadena Angels has never charged companies fees for anything short of closing on a round of financing (applying, presenting, mentoring, etc.).

The Power of Branding [Martha Spelman]

A strong brand results from a clear definition of the strengths particular to you or your company and the audience that will benefit from working with you.

Someone will always be faster, stronger, more knowledgeable, younger, older or more experienced than you. But that doesn’t mean that they will necessarily “win out” over you. Because nobody has your particular combination of skills, talents, abilities, knowledge, experience or expertise. And maybe they don’t hustle, network, promote or communicate as well as you do. Maybe they haven’t as clearly identified what it is, with their particular mix of traits, they can offer a buyer.

The Power of BrandingThis is where branding–both personal and business–comes in. A strong, well-defined brand is a powerful marketing tool.

Branding is the process through which you objectively “decipher” what you offer and to whom. Ultimately, you want to determine what your specific strengths and weaknesses are and who the audience is for those strengths; who could benefit from working with or hiring you. A person or company with a strong brand continuously reinforces the value they offer and what differentiates them from the competition.

Once you’ve deciphered your “brand positioning” — the products or services that best fit with an audience who has the need and budget for your offering? You develop a marketing strategy that will effectively reach that audience.

And if you think you’re weak in certain areas? Don’t make excuses, make improvements. Take classes, sign up for webcasts and podcasts; read, watch and listen. Use volunteering as an opportunity to learn new skills or tackle new projects. Research the competition, join a mastermind group, find a mentor willing to help. Do what it takes to build your brand, improve your position and hone your “expert” niche.

If it’s difficult for you to objectively decipher your personal or business brand, you can ask others — interview your friends (ask them to be honest), clients or customers and colleagues. Find out what their perception is of you — and your strengths. Work with an outside consultant who will provide a professional, objective assessment and strategy.

Be rigorous in your examination. You ultimately want to clearly distill what it is that “makes you different.” Then publish content that sets out your particular strengths, preferably focusing on a defined “expert” niche that can be illustrated with representative testimonials, recommendations, case studies and “success stories.”

The clearer you are on your particular strengths and how those strengths can be deployed to benefit potential customers…the more powerful your brand and the bigger the return on your marketing.

Read More on Branding from This Author

Brand Message: WIIFM or WIIFT?

The Brand Experience: Feeling is Believing


About the Author

Martha Spelman: SBEC MentorMartha Spelman is an SBEC mentor. She is a Los Angeles-based branding and marketing expert and author of The Cure for Blogophobia: How to Easily Create, Publish & Promote Your Business Blog. You can find out more about Ms. Spelman on her website.




Joe Platnick: How Do Those @#$%^ Angel Groups Survive (AKA Angels Behaving Badly)

In my original Top 10 list of criteria for selecting an angel investor, there were two items that aren’t often discussed, but are worth scrutinizing during the fundraising process: (1) Honesty and integrity and (2) Are they respectful of entrepreneurs

If you talk to founders and CEOs that have gone through early-stage fundraising, many will share their personal stories about dealing with as***le angels. On several occasions I’ve observed angels (and not members of the Pasadena Angels) publicly berate entrepreneurs. Probably the most memorable was when a member of another angel group looked a founder square in the eyes and told them in an obnoxious manner they weren’t CEO material—a rather ironic comment, since this angel had probably spent their working life as a service provider and had never been in an operational role, and especially not one in a startup.

One of the key questions entrepreneurs often ask: How do as***le angels survive and why isn’t there a self-correcting mechanism that purges them from our ecosystem? In addition to losing bad angels for economic reasons, it also seems reasonable that the best entrepreneurs would avoid working with them and would force/encourage these angels to ply their trade somewhere else.

According to the Angel Capital Association, approximately 250,000 people have made an angel investment in the last two years, which would somewhat qualify them as angel investors. I suspect the majority of these individuals are decent people. As with other professions—or life in general—there will always be some bad apples.

Based on my experiences as an angel investor over the past 10 years, I have three theories about why this occurs:

1. There’s a significant imbalance between early-stage capital and good fundable companies, which means it’s a buyer’s market for investors, and companies can’t be as discriminating. I’ve talked in past posts about the funnels for most institutionalized angel groups and VCs, and that only about 1% of all the companies that apply get funded.

2. Entrepreneurs hear the hype about particular angel investors and that they’ve done the most deals and/or they’ve been around the longest, and are completely blinded by it. In many of these instances, entrepreneurs have done little/no diligence on these angels and have tended to overlook their negative character traits.

3. Money talks and entrepreneurs get blinded once the term sheets and money appear, and once again don’t do sufficient diligence on their investors.

In addition to understanding why they survive, it’s also important to understand what created the as***le angels in the first place. For the good angels it’s an opportunity to give back and they enjoy working with entrepreneurs. For the as***le angels, it’s often they’re wanna-be VCs and/or relish the opportunity to express themselves in ways they weren’t able to in their previous careers. Apparently they’ve seen some VCs behaving badly and figure acting this way will give them some VC cred. (note to these types: you’re not really a VC if it’s personal and friends & family money, as opposed to institutional—unless you happen to be Haim Saban).

Even if an angel is on their best behavior during the early stages, you should still do some diligence on their personalities and post-investment reputations. Another good barometer for predicting these behaviors can be found in your initial experiences with the admin staff-or gatekeepers—for an angel group, as these people frequently reflect the attitudes and corporate culture of the angels that employ them.

3 Steps for Building Brand Recognition [Allan Colman]

Building brand recognition is the first of 12 essential practices we use to help companies accelerate revenue. Branding combines your purpose, vision, mission and values all into a strategy and implementation tactics. In my role as a Senior Business Accelerator Adviser with 36ixty, we find 3 steps to help clients become the best at one thing. This is critical in building brand recognition. There is a Russian proverb which clarifies this approach, “If you chase 2 rabbits, you will not catch either one.”

Step #1 – M:
Get your message right.

Clarity addresses questions such as why do we exist? Who are we serving? How do we behave? What values will we adhere to? What is it that we actually do?

Step #2 – A:
Leverage the appropriate amplifiers.

Once you get the message right, this is where you use all the marketing tools available, from social media, to press releases, to advertising, to collateral, to speeches, etc.

Step #3 – P:

Over time you need to be seen as credible, expert and a master.

Questions for Defining Your Brand

Answering the following questions will help get you your brand:

  • What do you do when providing your product or service that is different than what everyone else does?
  • Why do your clients/customers return to you and your product/services?
  • When people refer business to you, what do they tell others about you? (Ask if you don’t know)
  • What skills to you have that people find interesting and helpful?

As the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos said, “Your brand is what stays in a room after you leave the room.”


About the Author

Allan Colman: SBEC MentorDr. Allan Colman is an SBEC mentor, a top business development executive, and a leader in helping law firms strengthen their business development productivity. For over 2 decades, he has helped law firms and professional service firms step into the current business culture and economic climate and generate more revenue. The business development structures he has put into place with clients continue to perform and produce measurable results. You can find out more about Dr. Colman on his website.



Leadership: An Insider’s Guide

Leadership can be defined in many ways, but I view it as a succession of roles that one must take in an organization in order to develop a team. Since we are clarifying the terminology, I would characterize the success of the leader as being defined by the ability of the team to cohesively work together to strategize, implement and execute the shared vision of the team and leader.

The leader must first take on the role of Coach. As a coach you must lead by being the Energizer and Motivator for leading the charge, and leading the change. The change element (ability to lead organizational change) is the most difficult aspect of leadership and the change agent happens to be you as the leader. It will not be anyone other than you, and if you are really a pro, or have a bit of luck on your side, you might be assisted by those whom you have engaged and convinced of the worthiness to accept the proposed change and vision of the future state. As a coach, you are the team builder and you are responsible for the development and oversight of the growth of your direct reports. You also must determine the positions of your team members to best play to their natural instinctive skill sets. Many times you may have the right people, but they may be in the wrong positions and as a strong leader (coach) you must make position changes, substitutions and trades.

Once you have realized and surrounded yourself with the right team, your role significantly changes as a leader. Now your primary objective is to improve the team’s performance, play to their strengths, and to get them to be accountable. Accountable is defined as getting the team to do the right thing most of the time without your oversight. It is also critical that you are open and admitting of your teams weaknesses and that of your own. In fact, I encourage you to admit your own weaknesses to the team, and ask them to help and compliment you as the leader by working on those weaknesses with you. This will create the “trust” environment which allows people to be open, honest, and to thrive, primarily because you have given them the right and the responsibility to “call it as they see it”. Please don’t let this technique be thought of as building consensus, or building chaos. This is not a technique to teach everyone to think or act like you do either. In fact it encourages people to have an opinion, to search for improvements, to point out the flaws in the organization and maybe even strive to perfection to find the broken areas of your business and to take the correct measures to fix them on their own accord. In this process, you must coach the “trust” concept, and you yourself must “trust” that your team will make the right decisions given the fact that you have given them the right tools.

As the team progresses, so does your role as the leader. You can think of this phase as building the trust, but the bottom line in building trust is “allowing them to make mistakes” and more importantly getting them to think through their actions before they react or respond, knowing they will have to tell you why they did what they did in that situation. In this moment, you must encourage them as a team to learn from their mistakes, and figure out how they could do it better next time. Unfortunately the days of reprimand for mistakes does not work to build the organization. Help them and help yourself by taking a step back or a step out to see how they will handle situations without your coaching. Also remember that no one will do it the same way you do, and that this is a good thing!

The next phase as a leader is to recognize and reward the right behaviors. This is the fun part. Encourage each of the team members with your own leadership style. Let them know how they are doing and let them know what you are happy with in their performance consistently and regularly. This is not done at an annual performance appraisal. In fact if anything needs to wait to be discussed in an annual, then you have failed as a leader. Each team member should know in “real time” what you value and where they stand. You may find that once you lead changes through the team’s efforts, and not yours (picture the team pulling the rope in the same direction versus you pushing the rope), you will achieve the desired results with increased speed and team ownership. Remember that it is extremely important for you as the leader to be comfortable with change, and also to be open to the way that the team approaches the objective, because in the end, it is allowing them to accomplish the goals.

As a final note, I find it mission critical to communicate praise often, and work through negative situations through the postmortem process. The goal of the postmortem is to ask “what did we learn from this? , and what should we do differently the next time?”.

    Here are a few tips:
  1. Be excited about change, and let them see your excitement and interest
  2. Recognize and Reward the right behaviors
  3. Put the right people in the right positions
  4. Be willing to do any of the jobs that the team is doing
  5. Communicate well, and repeat often
  6. Put the Customer before the Team and “Put the Team before the Individual”
  7. Be willing to admit when you make a mistake
  8. Be relentless in your search for “perfection”
  9. Remember that the team is always watching you and looking to you as an example
  10. Acknowledge, Reward, and celebrate Success!

Joe Platnick: Have a Look Inside an Angel Investor’s Brain

As Angel investors, we like to see entrepreneurs with a laser-like focus on themselves, their venture, and fundraising. However, there are times when that single-mindedness can work to their disadvantage. With startups, fundraising is usually the most formidable challenge, whether the money comes from Angels, VCs, or other sources. Over the years I’ve seen many entrepreneurs make the process even more challenging by not putting themselves inside the head of an Angel and not looking at the situation from the investor’s vantage point. In order to do this, it’s important to understand some of the key traits of Angels.

Angels want and need returns

Although Angels invest their own personal funds and often have altruistic motives, they can’t continue investing without returns. Many entrepreneurs dismiss this idea and figure that if an Angel isn’t beholden to an outside institutional investor the way a VC is, then returns aren’t a high priority. Having been both an Angel and VC, and although both scenarios are pretty uncomfortable, I can tell you it’s a lot worse explaining a bad personal investment to your spouse, than explaining one gone awry to your fund’s Limited Partner.

Along with focusing on returns, Angels typically shy away from sectors of past failure. On numerous occasions I’ve been approached by entrepreneurs asking if we’d fund their company in a particular sector, right after closing down a similar company. Please do your homework (see below) before pitching, and in particular do some research on our portfolio companies—particularly noting where we’ve had successes and failures. The good entrepreneurs passionately believe they have lightening in a bottle and that their company is different. However, if your company’s in a market where we’ve had bad experiences, then the Angel you’re talking to will be subconsciously thinking about the prospect of your venture crashing and burning.

Angels are often accomplished individuals, but…

In pitches to the Pasadena Angels, we’ve had hundreds of entrepreneurs assume that because our group is comprised of very bright people that went to the top Universities, then our members must be very technically oriented. A lot of the recent press about Google, Facebook, or (you fill in the blank) developers becoming Angels and throwing checks around like Johnny Appleseed hasn’t helped matters. Although we do have a few of those technical types in the group, the vast majority are not overly technical, and will lose patience and interest fast if your pitch contains a lot of technical jargon and acronyms. Some of the best pitches we’ve seen have been from entrepreneurs that have taken a very complex technology and/or target market and described it in very simple language in 1-2 slides.

Angels can have short attention spans

If I only had 24 hours to live, I’d want to spend it with Mr./Ms. Entrepreneur, since it would feel like an eternity. This pretty much sums up what many Angels think when listening to a long, boring pitch. Most of the time, the problem stems from the entrepreneur not being succinct and their inability to get their point across in as few words as possible. If you look at the backgrounds of many of our members, these are individuals that have previously had hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of people working for them and tend to be bottom-line oriented. Think about how well a long-winded pitch would resonate with a CEO or senior executive from a Fortune 500 company, which is where many of these people have come from. The net impression produced here is that if you can’t easily explain your business to us, how will you ever explain it to a customer or key partner. Lastly, if an investor asks “aren’t you like Google, Facebook, Tinder, etc.” or another relevant question, don’t be dismissive, as their attention span will get even shorter.

Some of the other pitch pitfalls that will invariably decrease Angel attention spans are story telling (e.g., talking for 30 minutes on the history of the Internet or solid state electronics) and stating the obvious. When I fist joined the Pasadena Angles in 2004, one of the pitches I heard was for a company that had developed a dashboard mounted mapping and traffic monitoring device. For most of the 40 minute presentation, the Founder did nothing but try to convince us that Los Angeles had a traffic problem (really?). Although this individual was a visionary, clearly saw where the market was going, and had a good product prior to Garmin, TomTom and current smartphone apps such as Waze, the company never got funded and eventually closed.

Angels run in packs

Cultivate a champion early within the Angel group, or better still cultivate champions. Although Angel groups have become institutionalized, these organizations are people, and not firms, and it is the individual member that makes each investment. Who you initially contact within an Angel group really matters. Let’s say there are two members in the group that might be potentially interested in your company—one who has 20 years of experience in your target market, and another that has no knowledge of your sector. Within an Angel group we all typically look for a member that has relevant sector experience to either get us excited about a company or tell us we should pass. And if you contact the wrong member, you may be starting with one foot already out the door. For fundraising, you really need to think through who you reach out to for that first conversation. To make that process easier, many members (myself included) have our bios on LinkedIn.

Angels like to co-invest with the smart money

Who you’ve had involved with the Company (e.g., investors, board members, advisers, etc.) is really important when seeking Angel investors. Having a prominent name and people that are well respected by Angels can be helpful with fundraising. Angels (and most VC) like to be involved with those they perceive to be the ‘smart money.’ For our investments it always comes down to people, and most importantly the founding team and those that do the day-to-day work. However, to Angels it also matters who’s behind the company, what they are willing to do in order to support the company, and most importantly how they are perceived.

It’s show time, folks

In the movie from years ago All That Jazz, Joe Gideon (Roy Scheider) looks in the mirror and utters “It’s show time, folks”, which is a good way to think about (minus the amphetamine popping) going into a pitch with Angels. As is the case with most people, Angels respond emotionally as well as to reason, and it’s critical to show both high energy and enthusiasm. As I mentioned years ago when I was on the Frank Peters show, you have the initial two minutes of a pitch to get maximum impact with prospective investors.