Editor’s note: “The Angel Connection” is a new feature in WRAL Local Tech Wire. LTW asked consultant Bill Warner to share with readers advice for entrepreneurs seeking investment. He is chairman of the Triangle Accredited Capital Forum, an angel investor network with over one hundred members throughout the southeast. The Angel Connection is published on Mondays.
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – I know. I must crazy. How could I be saying find the “right” angels? After all, if they have money to invest and they are interested, why would I not take their money?
I suggest that you need to be a lot more thoughtful than that.
The relationship with your first angel investors is a very important one. You need help launching your business and they will provide it, if they are really the right ones that can do that. So, selecting your angel investors is an important step towards your own success.
Here are some things you should consider.
Learn Their Sweet Spot
Take the time to learn about the preferences of your potential investors. Go to the websites of the angel organizations and have discussions with the ones you meet at networking events to find out what their industry preferences are. For example, they might be interested in technology, life sciences, real estate, retail, chemical, energy or medical devices. You are looking for the ones that have expertise in your industry. If you are a medical device company, why would you spend time chasing an investor who prefers real estate or alternative energy investments? You want investors who know your industry and can become valued advisors for your business strategy and plan.
Find Out What They Want
Find out about their investment strategy and criteria. Are they long term investors or are they looking for a quick hit? Will they want to play any operational role in the company? You need to know what their expectations are for things like the amount that they typically invest, exit expectations and company governance participation. It is important to know what they want from you so you can decide if that is acceptable.
See Where the Money Is Going
Ask about their actual investment portfolio. That really tells the truth about the kinds of companies they write checks to. You are looking for investors who have a preference for your kind of company. They will be the ones you actually pursue because they are the ones who most likely can give you the kind of help you need when launching your company.
Mine for Contacts
The best help you can get is when your investors open their contact databases and identify and introduce you to potential alliance partners, suppliers, employees and customers. Having investors that have relevant contacts in your industry could be a gold mine of help that would otherwise take you months to find on your own.
Be Selective in Your Choice of Investors
Don’t settle on just anyone. I know, when it comes down to that awful choice of not getting enough funding or taking on an investor that may not have the kind of help you need, you will probably take the money and try to get help from other advisors. Start with a more thoughtful approach to finding angels before you have to make that choice. You will be much better off if you have investors that can really help you.
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 one hundred members throughout the southeast.