By: Robert Fisher, CEO of Fisher Tanner Associates. He is a member of Ohio Tech AngelsX-Squared Angels, and the Angel Capital Association.

Editor’s Note:  The opinions in this post are from the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Angel Capital Association.

Funding small companies through the issuance of private securities has proven to be among the most productive and efficient means of spurring innovation and job creation. A new recommendation from an advisory committee seeking to redefine who is qualified to invest in small companies puts undue focus on predicting levels of theoretical risk to unprotected investors. Such a redefinition is apt to constrain capital and damage the large and flourishing market for small company funding in place today. This blog reviews the issue and proposes a more balanced risk/benefit approach with the objective of increasing the capital available for new private investment while minimally affecting risk levels for investors or adding friction to today’s funding process.

By: Doug Doan, founder of ACA member Hivers and Strivers, an angel investment group that invests exclusively in companies started by military veterans. ACA is supporting the celebration of National Veterans Small Business Week with a Veterans Syndication Event on November 12 in Boston.

An important fact about American veterans is also the least reported and understood.  Our Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard veterans are turning into superb entrepreneurs and are unusually successful starting and running new business enterprises.  Surprised?  You shouldn’t be. Many military vets use the very skills, leadership, and drive learned the hard way from service in wartime to build and run great companies.  Let’s call it Post Traumatic Growth or PTG. 

Companies such as Ridescout, founded by two West Point grads and combat leaders, brought the drive, determination, and fierce execution skill skills learned in the Army. They have been so successful in opening up a new market, their company was recently gobbled up by Daimler Benz, with a nice return for the angels involved.

By: Roland Schumann, a successful entrepreneur who was a pioneer in the cloud computing industry. He is an active angel investor, serving on both the Executive Committee and Screening Committee of the Sierra Angels investment group based in Lake Tahoe.

As a member of the Sierra Angels, I’ve had the chance to think about what makes angel group members effective. While some angels merely sit on the sidelines and view the investment process from afar with little personal involvement, others choose to roll up their sleeves and actively investigate promising deals. The 7 habits identified below are intended to help all angel investors understand why getting involved as an active participant will greatly increase their likelihood of success.

By: Elizabeth Usovicz, General Manager of Transaction Commons, as part of a series she writes for ACA aimed at entrepreneurs, "Your Pitch is Just the Beginning."

At a conference I attended recently, a panel of pre-revenue company founders was asked, “What’s your revenue model?”  The answers were honest, although not investment-ready:

“We’re really not focused on that now, because we’re just trying to generate a following.”

“I’ve talked to business owners, and if we can provide them with access to these customers, the business owners are willing to pay for the service.”

It takes discipline to research and develop a viable revenue model in the early stages of a business. Here’s an example of an entrepreneur who did.

By: Marianne Hudson, ACA Executive Director

Last week, the Investor Advisory Committee to the SEC approved several high level recommendations on the accredited investor definition.  You can download a copy of the recommendations here.  I attended the meeting and want to give our members a quick update on this very important issue for angels.

First, it is important to note that this meeting is another piece of a long process – there are no new rules from the SEC that change who can be an accredited investor at this time.  We’re watching the process and representing the views of angels and startups and appreciate that many of you, our members, have shared your voice.

The timing for any changes or some official ruling seems as elusive as ever.  It appears that any changes are months or maybe years away rather than days or weeks.  One of the possibilities is even that there won’t be any changes for some time.  So it is important to stay involved and watching, but to put any concerns about changes in this context.

By: Marianne Hudson, ACA Executive Director

This post originally appeared on

It's been one year since the Securities and Exchange Commission issued rules allowing entrepreneurs to publicly advertise private investment deals. So what’s the impact? Has lifting the ban on "general solicitation" significantly changed the landscape for startups and investors? What do investors need to know in this new world?

General solicitation is one of five initiatives in the JOBS Act passed by Congress in 2012 to help startups access more capital, in order to grow and create more jobs. Although the JOBS Act is best known for promising to bring us equity crowdfunding by unaccredited investors, the new general solicitation rules are having the biggest impact on angel investors and entrepreneurs.  (We’re also still waiting for final crowdfunding rules.)

By: Elizabeth Usovicz, General Manager of Transaction Commons, as part of a series she writes for ACA aimed at entrepreneurs, "Your Pitch is Just the Beginning."

Your pitch is essential to getting your company noticed by investors. The challenge is to maintain the momentum of a successful pitch in the next step to funding - the due diligence process.

Many entrepreneurs don’t think about due diligence until they are asked for the documentation by a potential investor. The leadership team scrambles to pull together documents while customers and prospects are sidelined and sales opportunities evaporate.

How prepared is your company for due diligence? What steps can you be taking now to increase your success and reduce the time, effort and expense? Here are a few initial approaches to consider in advance of a due diligence review.

By: Marianne Hudson, ACA Executive Director

Last week’s ACA Leadership Workshop was the best ever, with a combination of great content, connections among investors, corporate leaders, and ACA sponsors and partners, and the opportunity to see how well the startup ecosystem in Ohio works. The Columbus Dispatch wrote that having the event in Columbus was good for the Midwest, but ACA would say that Columbus was good for ACA members regardless of their location.

I heard from so many attendees about the program and pull out these highlights:

  • Ohio TechAngel Funds dinner – ACA member and Leadership Workshop host moved the timing and location of their monthly investment meeting to coincide with the ACA event.  The result was a combined attendance of 200 plus in a fantastic room in the Ohio state capitol building.  It is always fun to see how different angel groups run their monthly meetings and this group does an exceptional job. We also had the chance to hear status reports from a few of OTAF’s portfolio companies – let’s just say they appear to be doing well and on their way to good exits. One of the entrepreneurs noted how interesting it was to talk below an exit sign (as in how to exit the building).

By: Chris McCannell, director of APCO Worldwide’s Washington DC financial service practice and government relations. He has over 15 years of Capitol Hill experience working for Members of Congress on the Financial Service Committee and the tax writing Ways and Means Committee. He and his colleagues have been ACA’s registered lobbyist for the past two and a half years. Chris is an active participant in ACA’s programming including national events like this week’s Leadership Workshop.

While Congress went back to their states and Congressional Districts for the month of August, members of the Angel Capital Association (ACA) took advantage of their Senators and Representatives being back home to engage on public policy issues important to angel investors and start up enterprises.

As the 113th Congress comes to an end, there are three top government relations priorities that ACA is promoting. First is a review by the Securities and Exchange Commission required under Dodd-Frank to review the definition of an individual accredited investor. Consumer advocates as well as state securities commissioners have promoted indexing the current definition to inflation which would limit the number of people who would be able to join angel groups and invest their money in start-up investments. Second is continuing rule making from the JOBS Act on what constitutes general solicitation. Bi-partisan legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate to exempt demo days from the general solicitation definition. Third and final is continued support for Section 1202 of the tax code which gives a 100% exemption of capital gains taxes to qualified investments in start-up businesses. This exemption expired at the end of 2013 and needs to be re-extended by Congress to affect investors in 2014.

By: Elizabeth Usovicz, General Manager of Transaction Commons

You’ve reached out to a big player in your market space – one with distribution clout and an A-list customer base. They’ve agreed to meet with you. What are your next steps?

All too often, entrepreneurs leave these first meetings in the hands of the big fish – and lose the opportunity. Here are three steps to setting the tone for your first meeting.