Investing Best Practices

By Hambleton Lord, ACA member, managing director of Launchpad Venture Group and co-founder of Seraf Investor.  This blog post originally appeared on the Seraf blog, as part of their “Angel 101” series.

Experience is what you get, when you don’t get what you want. Fifteen years ago, when I made my first angel investment, I wish I knew then what I know today. As a newly minted angel in 2000, I assumed that angel investing would be easy to jump into and become successful at. I was partially right… it was easy to jump into. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy to become successful.  

By: Marianne Hudson, ACA Executive Director

Yesterday I took a call from an accelerator managing partner who wanted to educate some of his investors on how to get started in angel investing.  As I put together a list of resources for him, it occurred to me that lots of angel investors and others are interested in this information, so let me share my list here!

This is also a chance to mention that the Angel Capital Association is now starting our new monthly “Best Practice” Webinar series aimed at providing education on the key things new investors need to know:  having a portfolio strategy to begin with, valuation, due diligence, term sheets, sourcing deals, etc.  If you like these, you can also download the decks from the main webinar page.  This program is in partnership with The Rising Tide Fund, Kauffman Foundation, Go Beyond Investing, Portfolia and Next Wave Ventures.  We’ll have more information about this exciting program soon.

By: Marianne Hudson, ACA Executive Director

Recently I had the chance to check in with ACA members in detail on their preferred investment structures.  This all started in June at the ACA Pacific Northwest Regional Meeting, attended by more than 200 investors.  One of my favorite sessions was a debate on deal terms, with Angela Jackson of the Portland Seed Fund arguing for convertible notes and Bill Payne of Frontier Angels speaking for priced rounds.  It was a lively discussion and you could tell the audience was into it. 

By A.J. Watson of Fundify, LLC in Austin, TXThe article originally appeared on Medium.com and provides new analysis on the dataset behind the 2007 study "Returns of Angels in Groups" by Rob Wiltbank. 

At Fundify, we spend a lot of time thinking about and researching what makes a successful angel investor. We find some really interesting data through that process and I’m excited to share it with you. Let’s start with the issue of due diligence.

Spoiler alert: It matters. A lot.

By: Adam Quinton, Founder/CEO Lucas Point Ventures and ACA member (Astia Angel)

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn

When early stage investors conduct their due diligence we all have our own set of criteria and benchmarks, some objective. Many not!  This can be rather frustrating for founders because a lot of the dialog with investors, as a result, is an inefficient one on one dialog.

But before getting to the details of due diligence that matter to "us" what is the appropriate stance for investors to adopt as they undertake due diligence? What you might call a philosophy of due diligence. As you will see for me that means treating the real risks takers with respect. (Hint: investor risks are, in the round, pretty modest.)

By: Marianne Hudson, ACA Executive Director

This post originally appeared on Forbes.com

Every angel portfolio needs some real gems to provide an overall return.  Selecting which companies to add to your angel portfolio sometimes feels like hunting for an elusive pearl among thousands of oysters. So many look the same from the outside. Are there telltale signs that point to which oyster contains the pearl without having to pry open every one?

By Bethann Kassman, CEO of Go Beyond Network, an ACA member angel group in Naples, Florida, which is part of an international angel organization Go Beyond Investing, which completed a study of the financial returns and experiences of its member angels in Europe and the United States.  To download the report, go to https://go-beyond.biz/ and click on “download report”.

Go Beyond Investing, the international business angel platform, recently launched The Go Beyond Investor Report: Introducing Angel Investing as an Asset Class for All Investors. The Report, based on six years of data, shows that taking a portfolio approach is critical but not sufficient for delivering success to angels and the entrepreneurs they back. In addition, there must be tools to educate investors both in a learning environment and “on the job”; ability to invest with small tickets; access to deals that have benchmarked valuations and terms; mechanisms to leverage the community intelligence and professional deal leadership certification and compensation.

By Bill PayneFrontier Angel Funds

The median pre-money valuation of seed stage deals has increased since 2010, as the US economy has emerged from the recent recession.  The following table shows the pre-money valuation of seed stage deals from several sources over the past five years:

By Michelle Stewart and George Willman, of Reed Smith LLP

Traditionally, investors have selected between two main modes of accomplishing early-stage financing – direct issuance of equity or convertible debt.  There have been some changes over time, such as the increasing proportion of early-stage financings using convertible notes, and increased investor demand for better economics in the notes, with features such as valuation caps and discounts to conversion. However, for a long time, early-stage investments were generally limited to these two modes of financing without a lot of fundamental change. 

Recently, several new approaches have emerged, which have generated quite a bit of interest in the early-stage financing community.  These include SAFE (Simple Agreement for Future Equity), KISS (Keep it Simple Security), and Series Seed. SAFE, proposed by Y Combinator, and KISS, proposed by 500 Startups, were quickly adopted by companies coming out of these well-known accelerators.  But the use of, and interest in, these new approaches reaches beyond these portfolio companies to other emerging companies looking for something different.  The Wall Street Journal highlighted this trend recently in “Startups Offer Unusual Reward for Investing - Simple Agreement for Future Equity promises benefits later if the firm is able to move forward,” April 1, 2015.

By Bill Payne, Frontier Angel Funds

Three outcomes dominate exits of angel-funded companies:

  • Dead bugs – Startups that go out of business, returning less-than-invested capital to angels (usually zero).
  • Positive exits – Companies that liquidate with capital gains to investors, usually via a cash sale to a larger company.  While IPOs are possible, they are very rare for angel-funded companies.  The exits can range from simply return of capital to wildly exiting multiples.
  • The living dead – These companies continue indefinitely to operate with internally generated cash without pursuing an exit.  By intention or due to market forces, these entrepreneurs turn what at first appeared to be a high-growth opportunity into a lifestyle company, that is, a company that meets payroll for all employees but does not demonstrate sufficient upside potential to attract buyers.  Such companies are going sideways and, as such, offer no opportunities to angels to harvest their investment – not even to write off their investment.  There are also examples of entrepreneurs who “get comfortable” with the income provided by their startup companies and simply choose not to pursue an exit.

Subscribe