Finding a Flock of Angels

By Martin Zwilling

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If your startup is looking for an Angel investor, it makes sense to present your plan to a large flock of angels, and assume that at least one will swoop down and scoop you up. Or does it? I'll come back to that later.

One of the most common questions I get is 'How do I find Angel investors?' With today's access to the Internet, and Google searches, it really isn't that hard.

For example, you should be able to find the Keiretsu Forum, which claims to be the world's largest angel investor network, with 750 accredited investor members throughout sixteen chapters on three continents. Since Keiretsu Forum's founding in 2000, its members have invested over $180M in 200 companies in technology, consumer products, healthcare/life sciences, real estate and other segments with high growth potential. The Founding Chapter and a couple of the others are in Silicon Valley, California, (naturally), and I have a couple of connections there if you need a start.

A comparable monster network, centered on the East Coast, is the New England Investment Network. This is a web-based matching service for angel investors seeking investment opportunities and entrepreneurs seeking capital. This website claims to now have 30 networks worldwide covering over 50 countries in Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Asia and Australasia, with over 60,000 members worldwide.

Perhaps the best source of information on Angel investor groups in other areas of the USA is the online site Angelsoft. Angelsoft was founded in 2004, and today boasts 448 angel groups and VCs, 15,414 investors, and 2,400 new company applications a month. As an entrepreneur, simply enter your location online, and it will list the angel and VC organizations near you. You can then begin your application to one or more of these organizations right on the same screen.

As a member of the Selection Committee on one of these local organizations, I use Angelsoft on the investor side to review business plans, deal flow, and help orchestrate who gets to present at monthly meetings of the local organization. That's the way the process works for a startup without a deal lead member in the group.

If you are looking for an Angel, you should definitely consider all of these sources, but remember the following points:

  1. Angels, more than VCs, like to "touch and feel" their investments, so they are generally only interested in local opportunities. It won't help your case or your workload to do an email blast and follow-up with 60,000 members around the world.
  2. Angels invest in people, more often than they invest in ideas. That means they need to know you, or someone they trust who does know you. For credibility, they need to know you BEFORE you are asking for money.
  3. Angel investors are people too. That means you need to respect their time, interests, and professional integrity. They probably won't respond well to high pressure sales tactics, information overload, or bribes.

My message is that the best Angel you can find is a local high net-worth individual, with whom you or your advisor have an established prior relationship. So get out there and network today, and you can be one of the lucky ones who is touched by an Angel without having to go through hell first.

Marty Zwilling is the Founder and CEO of Startup Professionals, a Phoenix based company which offers startups a range of offerings and consulting services. He is a member of the Arizona Angels group, where he serves on the Selection Committee. He is a mentor to startups through the Arizona State University Technopolis program, and has done guest lectures on entrepreneurship in their MBA program. He is also on the Board of a half-dozen startups, and has an extensive technology background with IBM and other large and small companies. He may be contacted directly through his web site http://www.startupprofessionals.com. More articles can be found on his daily musings site http://blog.startupprofessionals.com.

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