Entrepreneur

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.

By: Dave Berkus, Dave Berkus, ”Super angel” investor, tech futurist  

--A model for angel-led investment deals and syndication--

Congratulations to Cognition Therapeutics, Inc. (CogRx), a Pennsylvania life sciences company, which ACA recognized as the outstanding angel-financed company for 2016, when they received the Luis Villalobos Award. First among twenty-five finalists, a committee of experienced angel investors selected the firm above its competitors for numerous reasons.

By Maria Contreras-Sweet, SBA Administrator

What creates two out of three net new American jobs; produces close to half of our nation’s goods and services (nonfarm private GDP); and can be found, coast to coast, in every small town, big city and rural enclave?

The 28 million small businesses that propel our economy forward and define our national entrepreneurial spirit.

To be American is to have the freedom to innovate, take risks, create, transform and put in the hard work that has led to the successes – and failures – that define human progress. From May 1-6, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will recognize and honor the critical and  life altering contributions of America’s moms and pops, manufacturing enterprises, Main Street retailers and entrepreneurs during National Small Business Week.

By: Marianne Hudson, ACA Executive Director

The Angel Capital Association has appreciated the work of leading academics on assessing the impact of angel investors on promising entrepreneurs.  A recent blog by Laurent Blasie in the March Digest of the National Bureau of Economic Research does a particularly good job of summarizing the study:

By: Christopher Mirabile, ACA Chair and Launchpad Venture Group

This post originally appeared on Inc.com

There are many options – and traps, when it comes to financings. We’ve talked about the virtues of priced rounds relative to convertible debt, as well as the key concerns of founders in approaching financings.  However, one of the most fundamental considerations is the question of valuation.

When it comes to pre-money valuations, higher is always better, right? This is certainly a common misconception held by many entrepreneurs. Here’s why it’s wrong.

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."

If you’ve attended or presented at a startup pitch event, you’re familiar with the entrepreneur’s pressure to provide a comprehensive, entertaining and compelling view of the company in just a few minutes. At many events, a moderator or attendee asks the presenters, “How can I/we help your company?”

Several months ago, I began to notice a sameness across different pitch events in presenters’ answers to this question. It didn’t seem to matter whether the question was asked in front of a large audience, in small group or during a one-on-one conversation.

By Krista Tuomi, Associate Professor, American University

Entrepreneurs often explore a range of funding sources to expand and/or finance working capital, including ‘alternative’ ones such as peer-to-peer (P2P) lending and invoice financing.  These have recently been enjoying media exposure, sometimes erroneously grouped in the same category as angels.  As with my previous blog post on bank loans, this table is supposed to give a rough idea of the advantages and disadvantages of each source.  Such information is useful when advising a firm, or considering investing in one which has already tapped this pool of money (and probably is paying dearly for it).

By: Joseph W. Bartlett, Special Counsel, McCarter & English LLP; Chair Emeritus, ACA Public Policy Advisory Council

Entrepreneurs waste a lot of time soliciting professionally managed venture funds. Venture capitalists operate according to their own largely unwritten rules. In order to play the funding game, you must learn these rules. Below, I’ve listed some of the most-common mistakes. They won’t tell you everything you’ll need to know, but these simple rules should help you understand the VC process and avoid an enormous waste of time, energy, and opportunity.

Rule #1: Choose the Appropriate Audience

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