ELIAN D. ALVAREZ

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How to Invest Smarter?

Oct
06

Angel investors and venture capitalists provide funds to early stage or emerging startups in exchange for equity and aiming to make huge profits. The trend of such investments has been increasing and there are a number of startups that became successful as a result of such investments, including WhatsApp, Uber, and Facebook.

It is very important to invest in a promising startup that has a potential to attain a unicorn status, yet, it is not easy to be an investor. Choosing the right start up is as important for an angel investor as it is for an entrepreneur, but does it determine an investor’s success? To understand how one can invest smarter, let’s look at a few tips by different investors.

Focus on Team and Market

The investor in Famo.us, TouchOfModern, and Airseed, Siqi Chen, said that when you make an investment in a startup, it is usually a very early product. Therefore, it is crucial for an investor to calculate and assess the opportunities accordingly and should keep the focus on the team and the overall market.

Ask Yourself – “Would I Join this Start-up?”

Another angel investor, Mike Greenfield, who invested in Hullabalu and Pocket shared some important insights on taking an investment decision. He said that in the beginning, he used to ask himself if the startup would yield a positive outcome on an investment, but it changed over time, and now he usually asks if he could see himself joining that company when he was 24? If the answer to the latter is affirmative, it shows that the founder of a particular start-up is working a problem that isn’t structurally flawed and has a good chance of winning big.

He further said that such companies have a potential to convince a geeky person like him as they work on something that is important and also ace the integrity test. He added that if a startup satisfies all those things, it makes him feel like he’s doing something right as an investor, regardless of whether he makes money out of it or not.

Read the Herd Correctly

There is this common phenomenon in a stock market, whereby, investors can make a lot of money simply by reading the herd correctly. The same was observed by Christopher Schroeder, investor in Vox Media and Skift, when he began angel investing a few years ago. He said that when he presented a deal to bright and successful friends, the first question they asked was “who is in?” even before the question about a team and its concept popped up. Therefore, one has to read his herd correctly before taking any decision.

Identify the Scale of Assistance Required by a Startup

Jeff Miller, another investor in the world of angel investing, said that when an angel provides a feedback on a product, founder usually appreciate it. But the clutch actions are quite rare than anticipated by him. Such actions can affect a company’s future. However, if you look at it from the perspective of successful companies, they look for a minimal assistance from their investors. So, it is important to identify the scale of assistance required by a startup for its future growth.

Choose a Company with a Good Working Product

It is of vital importance to invest in a company that has a good working product. Having a good team of individuals in any startup is not enough if they don’t have a product that solves a problem. A product has to show a “product-market fit.”

Double Down the Investment Once a Potential Unicorn is Spotted

Once you identify a potential winner, you should “double down”, as it represents almost 20 percent of the initial pool of investment.

However, patience is the key, and individuals in early stage startups usually have to wait for 3 to 10 years before they start earning profits from their investment.

Although, there is a lot of risks involved in investing in a new startup, yet the trend for angel investing is rapidly increasing. In order to invest smarter, an investor has to always welcome different ideas, because great ideas are born every day.

But only a few of them, with the right investor (and investment) turns out to be a complete success.

Women & Angel Investing

Sep
29

Angel investing is a known term in the world of investments. Startups and early stage companies in need of funds usually try to approach these angels who make investments in exchange for stocks of the company. A number of popular names, such as WhatsApp, Uber, and Facebook have encouraged the angel investors to come forward and invest in startups with an aim of making huge returns.

The Shift in Focus Toward Female Entrepreneurs?

So, what do angel investors really look for? It is mostly the commitment, quality, integrity, and passion of the brains behind those startups that these investors care about. Last year, an angel investor and CEO of photo editing software PicMonkey, Jonathan Sposato, made an announcement that he’ll only invest in startups that have one or more female founders in it. He said that female entrepreneurs face a tough time getting traction, whether it’s about raising money, sharing their ideas, or even recruiting. He further said that you cannot just ignore these issues; you have to act as a catalyst if you are passionate about it. Sposato was of the opinion that this problem arises, because investors tend to back those startups that are similar to other successful firms they funded before, and most of those companies are led by men.

Male Entrepreneurs Securing More Investments

According to a recent research by the Women’s Business Council and Deloitte, it was identified that the proportion of women entrepreneur fell in 2014 despite a large number of registrations by new companies. Lack of female angel investors is also a contributing factor as most of the angel investments are still controlled by men. In a study of 220 UK startups by Startup DNA, it was revealed that male founders are 59 percent more likely to secure investments than females.

Angel Investing – Tides are Changing

However, the tides are changing. In a report issued by the UK Business Angels Association and the Center for Entrepreneurs, women now represent one in seven angel investors in the UK, which is twice as much as it was observed in 2008. Similarly, in the U.S., the number of female investors has increased from 20,000 in 2005 to around 60,000 in 2014.

More opportunities are being created for women and its source is the ever growing awareness among angel investors about the fact that startups with female founders are good investments. Moreover, women are also becoming aware of their potential to be a successful entrepreneur, whereby, they no more have to clean other people’s mess and can instead focus on materializing their own goals. Jeffery E. Sohl, director of the Center for Venture Research, said that while a percentage is still low, a large number of women-led organizations are getting angel funds. He is hopeful that this trend will continue to grow, as more women are getting degrees in engineering, technology, and science.

A senior fellow at the Kauffman Foundation and Founder of Next Wave Ventures, Alicia Robb, gave credit to the women entrepreneur role models who are paving a way for other women and showing how they overcame the obstacles despite the challenges. In 2015, 29 percent of the entrepreneurs, who sought funding, were women and 24 percent of the angel backed companies had female founders. According to a report by the BMO Wealth Institute, 51 percent of the personal wealth, U$S 14 trillion, in the United States are currently controlled by women and the amount is expected to rise up to $22 trillion by 2020.

Although, angel investing has always been dominated by male investors, the media has begun to play its part. For example, TV shows, such as Shark Tank, are familiarizing women with angel investing. Robb also said that angel groups have put in a lot of effort to reach and engage women. One example is Astia and Golden Seeds. They are focused on connecting investors to invest in startups with female founders. During the last five years, different organizations, including Pipeline Angels, 37 Angels and Female Funders have also joined them, and it has expanded from 21 cities in 2015 to 33 cities in 2016.