Angel investors are in many ways vital to the success of a startup or entrepreneur's idea. They can inject much needed seed or early stage funding to catalyze growth and success for founders and entrepreneurs. Having angel backing can set you up for future venture capital funding as well.
However, finding and dealing with angel investors can prove a bit challenging. There are less than 300 angel investors actively investing in startups with only about 60,000 investments happening per year. In fact, angels fund less than a percent of all startups.
With that being said, angel investors do play a major role in startup growth. They actively seek founders and entrepreneurs with marketable products and services previously untested. This makes them a more attainable funding option than banks or small business lenders.
Angel Investors love the opportunity their investments can provide. For founders and entrepreneurs, partnering with an angel has monetary benefits, as well as serving up unprecedented knowledge and industry networking opportunities
The following serves as your roadmap to finding and dealing with angel investors to help bring your vision to life.
How to Find Your Angel
Finding an Angel Investor may be a little easier than you think. There are a number of places online and in your community to draw angel investor attention from. From online angel platforms to conferences, here are a few places to find your first angel:
- Online Angels: Are you spending countless hours on LinkedIn sending potential angel investors messages in hopes of starting a conversation about your startup? This is common, and not a horrible strategy, but there is an easier way. Online sites, like the Angel Investment Network or Gust can help you land an angel easier.
- Angel Events: You can take your angel investor search offline as well. There are plenty of angel events around the U.S. to help you make a meaningful connection with an investor as passionate about your startup or entrepreneurial endeavor as you. Startup Grind and the Angel Capital Association Summit (ACA) are all great events to start a conversation about your startup.
Dealing with Angel Investors
After you have made a few angel connections, it is time to start the conversation. One faux pa of dealing with angel investors is to cold pitch them in a conference elevator, at a coffee shop, or via long email. This is borderline stalking, and not a great way to attract attention for your startup.
There is a bit of tact involved in pitching your startup and asking for funding. Before you even start looking for an angel, have a pitch strategy ready to go, because just rambling on about your product or service, and how great it is, won't get the deal done.
A few pitch-ready ideas to have at the ready when dealing with an angel investor include:
Your unique story, because angels love a great entrepreneurial story that inspires them. Engaging an angel from the heart is the best way to get them interested.
A high-level of confidence to get the job done, since angels are entrusting you with thousands of dollars to be successful. They want to know you are the founder that will leverage their investment for the best possible ROI.
Current profits and future projections with the backing an angel investor can provide. Be sure to have an exact number in mind that you know will have an impact on your startup. An exact figure will show an angel you have done your homework.
Concise information that doesn't beat around the bush, because angel investors are busy and don't have time to listen to a two-hour pitch. A pitch should be no longer than 20 minutes, and that is pushing it.
Be Prepared for an Angel Interrogation
Maybe interrogation is a bit over-the-top, but as a founder or entrepreneur, you should be ready to field the borage of questions an angel will ask. Questioning can be about marketing plans, financial information, and even questions about you and your team.
Financial questions include:
How much capital do you need, and how long do you expect it to last?
What are your financial projections and growth rate for the next three to five years?
What are the major costs involved with bringing your product or service to market?
Is there any potential unforeseen expenses involving production?
What are the projected gross margins with this investment?
Startup team questions include:
Who are the main founders, partners, and team members?
How many employees are there (HQ and outsourced)?
What is the combined experience of the team (tech, industries, etc.)?
Are their team growth needs in the coming two years?
Why are you a good founder?
What additional skills are needed to grow the team?
Marketing questions include:
What is the marketing and PR strategy?
Is there a social media strategy in place?
What are the analytics of these strategies?
What is the cost of the customer acquisition?
How will you boost marketing and PR with the investment?
What is the current customer lifetime value?
Don't be offended by the direct nature of these types of questions. An angel investor is exposed to a variety of risks when investing in a startup. They are simply trying to mitigate these risks as quickly as possible to move the potential partnership forward in an expedited, powerful way.
What Does an Angel Investor Want?
Landing an angel investor provides you with a stellar opportunity to fund your startup to success. However, angel funding isn't free. When partnering with an angel, it is important to know that the investment has a few strings attached.
For example, an angel investor may want equity in the company. This could be a high percentage, or a meager one, depending on the agreement you have with your angel.
Giving up equity in your startup means that you are no longer the sole decision maker. Some angels are hands-off investors, but some want to be involved in some way to ensure they are going to get a satisfactory ROI.
Having an involved angel isn't necessarily a bad thing. They have the industry knowledge and the connections that can facilitate growth much faster than if you are making decisions alone. The negotiation stage is important, so be sure to know that angel investments are certainly not free.
Find Your Angel Today
Finding and dealing with angel investors is an exciting moment for any founder or entrepreneur. Just be sure to do it the right way. From being pitch ready to knowing what angels will ask, have a strategy in place to land your first angel with ease. Have you had success in getting angel investor funding? Tell us your secrets!
With so many groundbreaking medical advances being revealed to the world every single day, you would imagine there would be some advancement on the plethora of many female-prevalent diseases (think female cancers, Alzheimer's, depression, heart conditions etc.) that women are fighting every single day.
For Anna Villarreal and her team, there frankly wasn't enough being done. In turn, she developed a method that diagnoses these diseases earlier than traditional methods, using a pretty untraditional method in itself: through your menstrual blood.
Getting from point A to point B wasn't so easy though. Villarreal was battling a disease herself and through that experience. “I wondered if there was a way to test menstrual blood for female specific diseases," she says. "Perhaps my situation could have been prevented or at least better managed. This led me to begin researching menstrual blood as a diagnostic source. For reasons the scientific and medical community do not fully understand, certain diseases impact women differently than men. The research shows that clinical trials have a disproportionate focus on male research subjects despite clear evidence that many diseases impact more women than men."
There's also no denying that gap in women's healthcare in clinical research involving female subjects - which is exactly what inspired Villarreal to launch her company, LifeStory Health. She says that, “with my personal experience everything was brought full circle."
“There is a challenge and a need in the medical community for more sex-specific research. I believe the omission of females as research subjects is putting women's health at risk and we need to fuel a conversation that will improve women's healthcare.,"
Her brand new biotech company is committed to changing the women's healthcare market through technology, innovation and vocalization and through extensive research and testing. She is working to develop the first ever, non-invasive, menstrual blood diagnostic and has partnered with a top Boston-area University on research and has won awards from The International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering and Northeastern University's RISE.
How does it work exactly? Proteins are discovered in menstrual blood that can quickly and easily detect, manage and track diseases in women, resulting in diseases that can be earlier detected, treated and even prevented in the first place. The menstrual blood is easy to collect and since it's a relatively unexplored diagnostic it's honestly a really revolutionary concept, too.
So far, the reactions of this innovative research has been nothing but excitement. “The reactions have been incredibly positive." she shares with SWAAY. “Currently, menstrual blood is discarded as bio waste, but it could carry the potential for new breakthroughs in diagnosis. When I educate women on the lack of female subjects used in research and clinical trials, they are surprised and very excited at the prospect that LifeStory Health may provide a solution and the key to early detection."
To give a doctor's input, and a little bit more of an explanation as to why this really works, Dr. Pat Salber, MD, and Founder of The Doctor Weighs In comments: “researchers have been studying stem cells derived from menstrual blood for more than a decade. Stem cells are cells that have the capability of differentiating into different types of tissues. There are two major types of stem cells, embryonic and adult. Adult stem cells have a more limited differentiation potential, but avoid the ethical issues that have surrounded research with embryonic stem cells. Stem cells from menstrual blood are adult stem cells."
These stem cells are so important when it comes to new findings. “Stem cells serve as the backbone of research in the field of regenerative medicine – the focus which is to grow tissues, such as skin, to repair burn and other types of serious skin wounds.
A certain type of stem cell, known as mesenchymal stem cells (MenSCs) derived from menstrual blood has been found to both grow well in the lab and have the capability to differentiate in various cell types, including skin. In addition to being used to grow tissues, their properties can be studied that will elucidate many different aspects of cell function," Dr. Salber explains.
To show the outpour of support for her efforts and this major girl power research, Villarreal remarks, “women are volunteering their samples happily report the arrival of their periods by giving samples to our lab announcing “de-identified sample number XXX arrived today!" It's a far cry from the stereotype of when “it's that time of the month."
How are these collections being done? “Although it might sound odd to collect menstrual blood, plastic cups have been developed to use in the collection process. This is similar to menstrual products, called menstrual cups, that have been on the market for many years," Dr. Salber says.
Equally shocking and innovative, this might be something that becomes more common practice in the future. And according to Dr. Salber, women may be able to not only use the menstrual blood for early detection, but be able to store the stem cells from it to help treat future diseases. “Companies are working to commercialize the use of menstrual blood stem cells. One company, for example, is offering a patented service to store menstrual blood stem cells for use in tissue generation if the need arises."