Angel Investing – “Brain Fuel”

Brain Power Gauge Measures Creativity and IntelligenceSomeone asked me recently what I enjoyed the most about being an angel investor and I responded that it was like “brain fuel”. Having the chance to learn about so many creative approaches to solving complex problems and interfacing with passionate and driven entrepreneurs, both young and old, is one of the most fun and intellectually stimulating experiences. Also being part of  Golden Seeds, an active and engaged angel group, provides another avenue for obtaining this precious “brain fuel” as our members bring such a wealth of diverse expertise and perspective to the process of evaluating early stage companies. Whether or not a particular investment opportunity is one that I chose to invest in, I always come away having learned something new and interesting and looking at a problem differently. Continue reading

Angel Investing – Avoiding “Energy Vampires”

focus on solutions conceptEarlier this week, I was listening to an NPR program on “energy vampires”, those special individuals whose interactions can literally drain the energy from us.  The term “energy vampires” was coined by Dr. Judith Orloff, a clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA in her book Positive Energy. Now everyone has had some experience with “energy vampires” – those special people who cause some of the following reactions:

  • You hope a call to them goes directly to voicemail
  • You need a trip to Starbucks before and after meeting with them
  • You would rather have a root canal  (the extreme version)

You get the point…… Continue reading

Angel Investing – Ringing in the New Year 2014

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????Yes, it’s that time of year once again when we  think about resolutions for the New Year. In last year’s New Year’s post, I suggested that you think about the composition of your investment portfolio, taking into consideration the amount you want to commit to this sector overall as well as the diversification goals that make the most sense for you.

Here are my three tips for 2014:

Know your co-investors:

If the three most important criteria in real estate are location, location, location, then the top three for angel investing would be alignment, alignment, alignment. Not only is it important for investors and portfolio company CEOs to have alignment in terms of their vision for the company, it is just as critical for the co-investors to be aligned. When the business needs to shift direction, there is a follow-on round required,  or an exit on the table, having conflicting objectives among your co-investors can be quite problematic. The advent of funding platforms has made knowing who else is in the deal somewhat more challenging. Entrepreneurs will oftentimes do some due diligence on potential angels, I would suggest you do the same on potential co-investors.

Get your investment dox in order:

Whether there is a follow-on round contemplated or a potential exit on the table, it is also very important that you know both your rights and your obligations as an investor. Where did you file those stock certificates? Do you have pre-emptive rights? Know your options and obligations before a follow-on round or a potential exit.

Look at the world through the lens of an entrepreneur:

Whether it’s negotiating a term sheet or evaluating a major strategic shift, it is always helpful to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. When I review a term sheet for a potential investment, first I read it as an investor, then I read it as though I am the CEO receiving the term sheet. I also enjoy reading books and blogs directed at entrepreneurs. Here are a few of my picks:

If you have a great resource, let me know in the comment section below!

Have a very Happy New Year!

Angel Investing – 12 Days of Christmas

12 days of christmas: 12 Snowflakes

On the first day of Christmas
a founder sent to me:
A Pitch Deck for all to see Continue reading

Angel Investing – “Bringing Tech Education to ALL Women”

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????This past weekend, I had the opportunity to invest in a crowd-funding campaign for Bella Minds – whose mission is quite simple – “Bringing Tech Education to ALL Women”.  There is lots of press these days on the lack of women in STEM… so rather than just read/write about the problem, this was an opportunity to participate in an actual solution; yes do something! Continue reading

Angel Investing – “Love Notes”

????????????????????????Recently Rob Delman, a colleague of mine at Golden Seeds, and I were discussing the best ways to structure an investment in an entrepreneurial venture started by your children.  As we both have “twenty-something” children who have been exposed over the years to our work in angel investing, it is only natural that they approach us as potential funders of the next great thing! Continue reading

Angel Investing – #InvestInGirls

Young Math Science Girl Genius WritingThere has been a lot of conversation of late of the need to increase the presence of women on corporate boards, in the VC and angel community, and in the ranks of high-tech entrepreneurs. Studies conducted by Catalyst and McKinsey have shown that having women in leadership is correlated with stronger financial returns. Continue reading

Angel Investing – Term Sheet Liquidity Provisions

Gold Guys With MoneyIn previous posts, I have described how certain term sheet provisions impact the Economics, Control, and Value Protection in a proposed investment. In this final post on Term Sheets, I will discuss some provisions that impact the Liquidity of the investment. Continue reading

Angel Investing – Not a Spectator Sport!

Keyboard Illustration "Launch 2013"One of the aspects of angel investing that I enjoy the most, is the ability to become involved with my portfolio companies. Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend the “Demo Day” for the 2013 crop of start-ups in TechLaunch NJ, a 16-week technology accelerator program.  As an investor in and mentor to this group of exciting young companies, I had the opportunity to participate in several of their Wednesday evening pitch sessions along with other mentors to provide feedback on the pitch deck that they would be presenting at Demo Day. Each company had 10 minutes to present their company to the audience and each also had an opportunity to network with the attendees and show off their prototypes or services. As I have often advised companies that I am involved with, the goal of a “Demo Day” is to get the next meeting.  It is important that the “10 minute pitch” really captures the audience’s attention and leaves them wanting more information. Continue reading

Angel Investing – Tackling the “Big Idea”

Group of business people in shape of light bulb ideaLast week, I had the opportunity to attend the “Big Idea Innovation Tournament”, a pre-term exercise for the incoming 2015 MBA class at the Wharton School. The incoming students were asked to come up with a “big idea” on the topic of climate change and then present those ideas first to fellow students and then to a panel of alumnae/i and faculty judges. Students were given a very limited amount of time to come up with their ideas and formulate a presentation. For the final presentations, the student teams were given 2 minutes and 5 powerpoint slides to discuss their concept and convince the judges as to both the impact and the feasibility of their idea. The judging panel, on which I had the privilege to sit, then had the very difficult task of picking the winner from ideas ranging from managing energy usage, conserving water and our other scarce resources as well as measuring the carbon footprint of the foods we consume. Continue reading