Why Angel Funding Matters – One Startup’s Perspective


An Interview With: Li Han Chan, DynaOptics

DynaOptics is an innovative startup backed by ACA member group, Sierra Angels who led the investment. Co-founder and CEO Li Han Chan talked to ACA about the importance of angel investing to their business.

Tell us about your business: DynaOptics was founded in 2012. We currently have seven full time employees and offices in Sunnyvale, CA and Singapore. We’re a miniature optics company bringing to market an optical zoom system housed entirely within the slim profile of today's mobile phones. Our technology is able to achieve the performance and manufacturability of today's lens systems, without its bulky footprint.

Describe the impact angel investment has had on your business:

Angel investment was critical for us in at least three ways:

1. Financially – the investment enabled the commercialization of an extremely innovative, high-potential technology. We have utilized the financial resources made available by the Angels to hire full-time engineers dedicated to solving the problems that come with employing this technology in a mass-market product. The resources have also allowed us to actively engage customers to ensure we were solving their critical pain points.

2. Mentoring – Our angel investors are extremely successful and knowledgeable individuals with a vested interest in helping us be successful. They generously give of their expertise to work through strategy challenges, and take time to coach the team to higher performance.

3. Networks -- It also goes without saying that we have access to their powerful networks -- they connect us to the right people in the right places, at the right time.

What might have happened to your business without angel infusion?

Financially – this technology would probably have languished in the university, doomed never to see the light of day. What a pity that would have been!  There are not too many classes of investors willing to take on the financial risk of what we were up to creating.

Mentoring – we would have had to learn all the business development and technical lessons the hard way. This would likely have caused delays and strained financial resources

Networks – we would have had to grow our networks organically. This would have taken decades, and we would have not been able to have the close customer and partner relationships we have now.

We would also have had to spend even more time fund-raising, which as it is, is a sizable distraction to the day-to-day business and technical milestones. We might not been able to raise the amount of money we have, which would have been detrimental to the growth of the company.

Describe your angel experience:

Our investors are extremely savvy. Our investor list boasts of former CXO executives of Fortune 100 companies, founders of companies with multi-million dollar exits and extremely experienced individuals who know how to build companies. They are highly professional, and probably appreciated the risks and potential pitfalls of what I was up to creating, better than I did – either because they had done it before or seen it in other investments they have made, or both!

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