So you have completed your business plan, determined how much money you need, practiced your presentation, and are now ready to approach angel investors to raise the capital needed to launch your business. But, you don’t know any.
You have heard about the angel organizations in the area. You have read about the venture capital firms as well. Where do you start looking? Here are some tips to finding angel investors:
- First decide what you want from an investor with respect to industry experience, management experience and scope of influence. Your first investors are going to be your business partners and are people who can help you get your company started with their contacts and advice. When you have a good understanding of the kind of help you need from your investors, you will be able to easily qualify them. Not every investor you meet is one that you need on your team.
- Right now, you probably know more investors than you think you do. Establish a list of people that you know that you think could be an investor in your company. They should be accredited investors if at all possible. Think through all your business associates, friendships and family members, identifying those that could be investors, or those who might be able to introduce you to investors. This approach is often described as a “friends and family” round of investors. The reason it make sense is that you are dealing with people who know you and trust you, and therefore are more likely to agree to become an investor in your company. Of course, the downside of this approach is that you your friends and family may lose their money if your business is not successful.
- The sophisticated angels are territorial and many of them roam in packs. Go to the Angel Capital Association Web site (www.angelcapitalassociation.org) to find the names and contact information for the angel investor organizations in your area. Many also roam alone or in small private groups. They are hard to find. You need to make a habit of doing a lot of business networking. The more business people that you meet at networking events the better your chances of finding angel investors. Let people know you are raising angel money to maximize your chances of getting a referral to them.
There is no silver bullet approach to this. Finding angel investors takes a lot of hard work and months to accomplish. You will need to attend a lot of events, meet a lot of people, shake a lot of hands and give your elevator pitch hundreds of times to find just a handful of people that are willing to invest in your company.
Bill Warner is the Managing Partner of Paladin and Associates, a business consulting firm in the Research Triangle Park area of central North Carolina, and is the Chairman of the Triangle Accredited Capital Forum, an angel investor network with over 100 members throughout the southeast.
Editor’s note: Bill Warner of Paladin and Associates writes The Angel Connection weekly for WRAL Local Tech Wire.