Investing Best Practices

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.

By: Marianne Hudson, ACA Executive Director

The reality show “Shark Tank” has become one of the most popular programs on television and has helped the wider public hear the term “angel investor” and grasp what they do.  And likely the Sharks have invested in and coached many entrepreneurs, helping those companies become successful.

But I really liked a news article last week - “Dallas Health Startup Investors Are Angels, Not Sharks” - because it distinguished many angel investors from the maneuvering and other drama that happens on the TV show.  In my opinion, the article nailed it:

By: Marianne Hudson, ACA Executive Director

ACA is aimed at providing the best information and resources for our member angels and the startup community. As we begin what we hope is a fantastic year for investors and entrepreneurs alike, we share 32 of the best articles, blogs and books in our field from 2014 to help you build your own libraries.

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