DURHAM – ArchiveSocial’s closing of a $53 million investment is an example for angel investors to follow if they want returns and for entrepreneurs a model to emulate if they want to build a successful business. So says the first angel to back the social media archiving company that launched eight years ago.

This is a story not only of ArchiveSocial’s mission and technology but also of its tenacious founder Anil Chawla.

Rick Smith, WRAL TechWire’s editor and a cofounder

“I was Anil’s first angel investor and made a 30X return,” Gardner tells The Skinny.

“I hope these kinds of exits will encourage more local angel and venture investing.”

“You should call the article ‘how to turn a dollar into $30 thousands of times,'” he adds.

“My IRR [internal rate of return as tracked by investors] on this investment was almost 100% year over year.”

That’s impressive. Suggestion taken for the headline.

Gardner now runs Cofounders Capital in Cary which is one of the region’s most active early stage investors and closed a new fund that focuses on startups.

Chawla is crucial to the story as the young man with a vision who started a company by himself and persevered to the point of a $53 million investment which also means big payouts for investors such as Gardner.

Anil Chawla

“I invested when it was just Anil 5 to 6 years ago,” Gardner explains.  “Anil had all the classics signs of a great entrepreneur.  He was smart, coach-able and articulate with that all-in passion I have to see to invest.”

Gardner, who is listed at ArchiveSocial’s website as an advisor as well as an investor, spent time mentoring and helping Chawla grow the business while drawing other funding (such as AOL founder Steve Case).

“I’ve been on his board since it was formed and helped him recruit and vet his management team, raise follow on capital, write his first white paper [and] sales collateral,” Gardner points out.

“I has been a real pleasure to work with him. He loves what he does and takes care of his people.”

Chawla also set an example for others with his sweat equity, Gardner points out.

“Other entrepreneurs should learn that you don’t get rich working for salary – you have to work for equity,” he advises. “Anil just kept his head down doing the right stuff year after year and fixing whatever problems came up.

“When he needed to know something he asked and I can tell you that no one has to show Anil a trick more than once.”

However, as far as his investment, Gardner says that “it was time” to take on the new investment and for him to cash out.

“Even as fast as the company was growing, sometimes entrepreneurs get a little tired and want to do something different,” he says.

Durham’s ArchiveSocial lands $53M investment for its social media archiving expertise