Good morning, All,
They’re called angels for a reason: there you are, more or less unproven as an entrepreneur, attempting to get your company off the ground and all you seem to hit are brick walls. Suddenly, an early stage investor appears, as if from above, and your whole world changes: you’re enterprise now has a fighting chance. But how do you get to them?
There’s the angel list, of course, and the New York Angels and the Arc Angels. Angels tend to show up at events, too – especially pitch events, if you know who they are and how to approach them. Another idea? Bring on an advisor or two who are subject matter experts, and if you can, find ones who have been successful entrepreneurs. Keep them involved and updated. Prove yourself and one of them might well turn into your angel. A bit of history: contrary to popular misconception, Tony Hsieh did not found Zappos. It was Nick Swinmurn, who was not having an easy time of it getting his venture going, and was introduced to Hsieh, who’d just sold his company, LinkExchange, to Microsoft. Hsieh came on as an investor and eventually, the two became co-CEOs. By the time Amazon acquired the company in 2009 for $1.2 billion, Hsieh was CEO and Swinmurn Founder, and doubt that he’s complaining.
How to attract an angel:
1. Target a few who focus on your space. Drop them a note. And keep them updated on your progress (that’s how Boxee get Fred Wilson to invest: it took 18 months of hearing ‘no’, but Avner sent Wilson updates. Monthly. Without fail. It worked).
2. Be able to pitch your company in 30 seconds: sometimes you run into a potential angel investor serendipitously, they’re in a hurry, and that’s all the time you have to grab their attention. Be prepared
3. Be able to do a two-minute pitch: we all go to pitch events; that’s often all the time you’re allotted, so have your presentation down cold. Sometimes there’s time left over at those events and the organizer will invite audience members to give their pitch. There are investors in the room: go for it and again, be prepared.
4. Be able to do a 30-minute pitch. Once an angel/early stage investor has decided to meet with you, great and you won’t have all day. Be able to pitch your company in 30 minutes, making sure to hit all of your points, and be prepared to answer all of his/her questions. In fact, try to address their potential concerns in your pitch. Puts you in a stronger position.
5. KNOW YOUR COMPETITORS. We know that sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many entrepreneurs hit the big ones – and don’t do their research on their fellow startups in the space.
6. Get them hooked in the first few sentences of your pitch. Have a strong start and a strong finish – something they’ll remember. That’s what will et them hooked – and leave them with a great impression.
7. Go to open investor hours. We see them posted all the time. That angel/early stage investor might not be in your exact sweet spot, so before you do sign up willy-nilly, look them up on linkedin, see who they’re connected to/know (if possible) and make sure to check out the ‘People also viewed’ on the right side of the page: you can often find some very useful intel there.
8. Ask friends and associates for introductions. They might know someone for you whom they didn’t even realize might be a useful introduction to you – until you ask.
9. As you’re befriending someone (not ‘friending; that’s different), ask them about their backgrounds: where they’re from originally, about their families; what their parents did for a living; their own work histories. You know, you just might find a subject matter expert/advisor in that person’s past – someone whom even he/she hadn’t considered, since it might be a connection from the past – that just might help to secure your future. You’d be surprised – and few people to do this. Oh, and make this a conversation, not an interrogation.
Angels are usually experience entrepreneurs themselves. They tend to know what it takes to start a business, build them, and build them successfully. And always do your due diligence: check them out before you hand over the keys to the kingdom. There are fallen angels, too, and you do want to be careful not to make the devil’s bargain. Onward and forward.
Speaking of getting funding – Our next panel/networking event is March 12th: Adults in the Room: Accelerators and How They Can Benefit Your Company. We all know that the Series A crunch has made it tougher for startups to attract financing. Securing investment in the seed and early stages is critical, and from whom you secure it matters, too. Accelerator programs are an excellent option for early stage entrepreneurs to consider: they offer a vast array of benefits that will literally propel your startup from conception to a viable business. They offer classes to help you shape your business and get it investor-ready. Notable industry experts as mentors are available to help when you get stuck. The structure and format of accelerators are among their greatest values. They also give you some funding – and come Demo Day, put you in front of the right investors to help get you to the next level. But what does it take to make it through the door?
Join us to get an inside perspective on accelerators. We’ll hear from three top accelerator programs:
Murat Aktihanoglu – ER Accelerator (which has an application deadline coming up)
Mark Wachen- DreamIt Accelerator (their deadline application will be later that week, too)
Kelly Hoey – Women Innovatate Mobile Accelerator (who will be starting their next class quite soon)
and from Doug Krugman (WebThriftStore), a serial entrepreneur and former VC, who decided to launch his latest venture by going through an accelerator program (ER Accelerator). There must have been a reason for it. Come find out – and hear about accelerator programs, from both sides of the coin. Note: panelists will introduce themselves and tell us about their accelerators/background – then you’re free to ask them whatever you’d like to know. Refreshments will be served and insights will be offered, and our special thanks to Orrick for hosting. RSVP here.
The list of Startup Weekend Upcoming Events
The Startup Bus to SXSW. Deadline: As soon as humanly possible. You and a team of strangers, on a bus, at 60 mph, have 72 hours to conceive, build and launch a startup. Go!
Call for Nominations: Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards, deadline March 8th. Recognized as one of the most prestigious business award programs in the country, Ernst & Young is now calling for nominations in San Diego, Orange County, Greater Los Angeles, Northern California, Portland, Seattle and Utah for the 2013 Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards. Details: http://bit.ly/UCDHeU
NEW StartupChile, Deadline March 11th. $40K goes a long way in Chile. Think about it. Then apply here.
Global Apps to Empower Competition Seeks Apps to Educate and Empower Women Everywhere, deadline April 30th. Applications that best satisfy the competition criteria will receive cash prizes and the opportunity to have their apps featured on Datawind’s $40 Ubislate educational tablet. That’s potentially a lot of computers – and a big win for the winning app! The UN is involved and the winning apps will be receive cash prizes, recognition (judges for the contest include Joanne Wilson, Vivek Wadhwa, Geena Davis. For more information and to apply: http://appstoempower.org/
ER Accelerator now accepting applications for Summer 2013. Early application deadline: March 7th. Final deadline: April 19th. $40,000 investment 4-month program. Follow-on investment in future rounds. 200+ awesome mentors, including yours truly. Apply now.
DreamIt Ventures Accelerator Summer class is now accepting application. Deadline: March 15. It’s their third annual New York City Accelerator program, which will begin in mid-May and run to mid-August. The program offers $25,000 in seed funding, as well as collaborative work space, mentoring, exclusive speaking engagements with industry leaders, and an opportunity to pitch to investors on Demo Day. To apply as a company or an individual: http://www.dreamitventures.com/
WIM Behind The Pitch, deadline to apply to pitch, March 22. Getting funded is challenging – and Behind The Pitch focuses on understanding and navigating the funding market, each quarter.
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For you edification this week:
Pick Your Angel Investors Wisely. Traditional venture investors have created programs to invest small amounts of money in large numbers of startups. Unfortunately, as seed investing moves from a boutique practice to more mass market, its value is diminished dramatically. Choose wisely.
Step-by-Step: How to get in touch with anyone for BD / Sales. Actually, good advice on figuring out how to get to anyone.
Why Big Companies Can’t Innovate. What’s striking about Fast Company’s 2013 list of the world’s 50 most innovative companies is the relative absence of large, established firms. Instead the list is dominated by the big technology winners of the past 20 years that have built innovation into their DNA (Apple, Google, Amazon, Samsung, Microsoft), and a lot of smaller, newer start-ups.
The Baby Boomers are aging. Fighting it tooth and nail, but time marches on. But now tech can change that, too: How to post to Facebook, Twitter after you die.
Finish is a straightforward and effective iOS app for managing tasks with deadlines. We all have deadlines. Download is $0.99. Thought it could be helpful.
Don’t Tell Me Your History In Chronological Order. As a recruiting, I’ve been telling people that for years, and thank you, Brad Feld. People want to know your skill sets and strong points. Hit the most saleant ones first. And read on.
The things an entrepreneur will never tell you. It’s the things we all go through and don’t talk about. Our next SOS gathering might have to be an Entrepreneurs Anonymous meeting. Thinking about it. Yea? Nay?
Last week, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer announced that employees will no longer be allowed to work from home. If you’re curious, full memo is here. Just for the record, lest we forget, she did institute free lunches not too long ago, so let it not be said that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Oh, wait…
Elevator Pitch/Member News
Hint, hint: Feel free to tell us what you’re working on, or if you’ve been featured in the press…Share, and we will, too!
That’s it from us for now. Hope to see you at our event on March 12th remember: our event will be just before the DreamIt deadline, and not long before the ER Accelerator final deadline for applications. Good time to meet the principals and get some invaluable insights about what they’re looking for, this time around. Also, bonniefoods (that’s me) will be at startupalooza this evening, so try to stop by! And now, as always, help is on the way…