Entrepreneurs

By Lucy Howell, ACA Director of Partnerships 

It’s been only five months since I joined the Angel Capital Association and I have already gathered so many highlights and insights from our angels within this unique investment space - from ACA events in Irvine, Portland, San Francisco and Boston - that I have decided to share some of these takeaways and highlights for those interested or for those who may have missed it the first go around.

One of my highlights to date has been co-directing the Innovation Showcase at the 2017 ACA Summit, sponsored by Greenberg Traurig. This program featured pitches by 24 startups from Chile and ten states in the US, in two half-hour sessions.  The “showcase” kicked off the first day of the ACA Summit, held on April 26-28 in San Francisco.

By: Elizabeth Usovicz, Principal of WhiteSpace Consulting, as part of a series she writes for ACA aimed at entrepreneurs, "Your Pitch is Just the Beginning." 

Technological change occurs at breakneck speed. In 1965. Moore’s law first predicted that computer chip size would shrink exponentially, while processing speed would double every 18 months. When high-velocity innovation intersects with a globally networked world population, the result is cognitive whiplash. “Whiplash” is also the title of a recently published book based on the premise that “our technologies have outpaced our ability, as a society, to understand them.”

“Whiplash”: A User’s Manual

Author Joi Ito is Director of MIT’s Media Lab, as well as an entrepreneur and angel investor. His co-author, Jeff Howe, teaches at Northeastern University and is the Contributing Editor to Wired magazine who coined the term “crowdfunding.”  In “Whiplash, How to Survive Our Faster Future,” Ito and Howe outline a user’s manual of nine principles for adapting to an environment of rapid and relentless technology advancements. 

By: Elizabeth Usovicz, Principal of WhiteSpace Consulting, as part of a series she writes for ACA aimed at entrepreneurs, "Your Pitch is Just the Beginning." 

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once quipped, “Power is like being a lady... if you have to tell people you are, you aren't.” The same could be said about a startup. If people have to ask if it’s a business, it isn’t one - yet.

I recently heard two different founders pitch their concepts for the first time. One spoke at an open pitch event, describing a broad social media platform that would unite people of different backgrounds and tell their stories. The second founder presented a next-generation technology/entertainment concept to a small advisory group, in preparation for approaching investors.

By: Solomon Brenner, member of Keiretsu Forum Mid-Atlantic and Managing Director at Startup2angel

This post originally appeared on Startup2angel.

They all sounded good. All of them. I entered the world of angel investing 18 months ago and came to the immediate conclusion that every company seemed like a good idea. It’s like when I first started training in karate and thought every punch would result in a knockout. Surely, every opportunity wasn’t going to be the instant knockout investment success. Considering I couldn’t – and obviously shouldn’t – invest in all of them, I started looking for places with tips that I could use to help analyze each option.

Diane Perlman, Global CMO at MassChallenge

This post originally appeared on Gust.com

With startup growth up 61% since 2014 and more investment programs emerging, it can be overwhelming for founders to know just where to jump in. As the most startup-friendly accelerator on the planet, MassChallenge has helped 835 startup companies around the world, who have raised over $1.1 billion in funding and created over 6,500 jobs. We have seen startups at all stages of growth and know whether the current need is an investment, support, or both, there is an option out there for you.

By Elizabeth Usovicz, Principal of WhiteSpace Consulting, as part of a series she writes for ACA aimed at entrepreneurs, "Your Pitch is Just the Beginning."  

Do you remember your first Aha moment? Mine was in kindergarten.

I got a new lunchbox to start the school year, called a “Kaboodle Kit,” that pictured a girl and her friend walking to school.

One day, I noticed that the girl on my lunchbox was carrying a lunchbox with something written on it. The text was small but I could just make out the words: Kaboodle Kit. On that girl’s lunch box was another girl carrying a lunchbox...and on and on.

I didn't know what an Aha moment was at the time. But I vividly remember realizing that these girls carrying Kaboodle Kits on my lunch box went on forever. Lunch time would never be the same.

By: Christopher Mirabile, ACA Chair, Launchpad Venture Group, and co-founder of Seraf-investor.com

This post originally appeared on Inc.com

It’s almost time for a pat on the back. You’ve found investors, agreed to terms, and have a few more yards to reach the fundraising touchdown. Getting to closing has been a ton of hard work. It would be a shame to fumble at the one-yard line. One sure way to fumble is to forget your Form D filing with the federal and state securities regulators.

Not every entrepreneur realizes this, but even if you do a completely private and exempt offering in the U.S., a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission is required. In fact, these filings are how many journalists hear about the obscure private startup fundraises they cover. In fact, many publishers of startup lists and databases get their data directly from the U.S. government.

By Tom Walker, CEO of Rev1Ventures (parent organization of ACA member group Ohio TechAngel Funds)

As every entrepreneur knows, it’s not enough to have a good product—you must also have customers who want it.  In fact, more than four in 10 startups say a lack of market for their product was the reason their company failed, according to a study by CB Insights.

While inking the first deal can be one of the most challenging, gratifying, and defining experiences for a new company, it’s importance is too often minimized during initial first phases of development, compromising future opportunities and even causing avoidable difficulties when the customer relationship and terms aren’t set out right at the start. Having invested in hundreds of early-stage companies, I wish more of them had had more ready opportunities to learn the best ways to approach first customers. That’s why the Rev1 team is sharing its top advice for selling, so that more startups can benefit from this unique approach to closing the first customer and beyond. 

By: Elizabeth Usovicz, Principal of WhiteSpace Consulting, as part of a series she writes for ACA aimed at entrepreneurs, "Your Pitch is Just the Beginning."

What is growth hacking? Many startup founders aspire or claim to be growth hackers, but the term’s meaning has lost precision since it was first used six years ago. Like “bandwidth,” the word “hacking” has mainstreamed into popular culture and is often used to describe a shortcut in food, fashion and life in general. Growth hacking for startups is not an easily duplicated quick fix. Investor and entrepreneur Paul Singh noted at a 1 Million Cups meeting in Kansas City that “Everyone wants to read about growth hacking...[but] by the time the growth hacker actually writes the growth hack out, there’s no yield anymore.” 

By: Elizabeth Usovicz, Principal of WhiteSpace Consulting, as part of a series she writes for ACA aimed at entrepreneurs, "Your Pitch is Just the Beginning."  

On the reality television series “Shark Tank,” an estimated 50,000 entrepreneurs compete for 125 on-air slots each season. While the pitch dynamics and deal-making are high energy, there’s a reason that the next step in the funding process is not on the show. According T.J. Hale of Shark Tank Podcast, due diligence craters an estimated two- thirds of the on-air deals.

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