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!
New parents re-entering the workforce are often juggling the tangible realities of daycare logistics, sleep deprivation, and a cascade of overwhelming work. No matter how parents build their family, they often struggle with the guilt of being split between home and work and not feeling exceptionally successful in either place.
Women building their families often face a set of challenges different from men. Those who have had children biologically may be navigating the world of pumping at work. Others might feel pulled in multiple directions when bringing a child into their home after adoption. Some women are trying to learn how to care for a newborn for the first time. New parents need all the help they can get with their transition.
Women returning to work after kids sometimes have to address comments such as:
"I didn't think you'd come back."
"You must feel so guilty."
"You missed a lot while you were out."
To counteract this difficult situation, women are finding mentors and making targeting connections. Parent mentors can help new moms address integrating their new life realities with work, finding resources within the organization and local community, and create connections with peers.
There's also an important role for parent mentors to play in discussing career trajectory. Traditionally, men who have families see more promotions compared to women with children. Knowing that having kids may represent a career setback for women, they may work with their mentors to create an action plan to "back on track" or to get recognized for their contributions as quickly as possible after returning to work.
Previously, in a bid to accommodate mothers transitioning back to work, corporate managers would make a show at lessoning the workload for newly returned mothers. This approach actually did more harm than good, as the mother's skills and ambitions were marginalized by these alleged "family friendly" policies, ultimately defining her for the workplace as a mother, rather than a person focused on career.
Today, this is changing. Some larger organizations, such as JP Morgan Chase, have structured mentorship programs that specifically target these issues and provide mentors for new parents. These programs match new parents navigating a transition back to work with volunteer mentors who are interested in helping and sponsoring moms. Mentors in the programs do not need to be moms, or even parents, themselves, but are passionate about making sure the opportunities are available.
It's just one other valuable way corporations are evolving when it comes to building quality relationships with their employees – and successfully retaining them, empowering women who face their own set of special barriers to career growth and leadership success.
Mentoring will always be a two way street. In ideal situations, both parties will benefit from the relationship. It's no different when women mentor working mothers getting back on track on the job. But there a few factors to consider when embracing this new form of mentorship
How to be a good Momtor?
Listen: For those mentoring a new parent, one of the best strategies to take is active listening. Be present and aware while the mentee shares their thoughts, repeat back what you hear in your own words, and acknowledge emotions. The returning mother is facing a range of emotions and potentially complicated situations, and the last thing she wants to hear is advice about how she should be feeling about the transition. Instead, be a sounding board for her feelings and issues with returning to work. Validate her concerns and provide a space where she can express herself without fear of retribution or bull-pen politics. This will allow the mentee a safe space to sort through her feelings and focus on her real challenges as a mother returning to work.
Share: Assure the mentee that they aren't alone, that other parents just like them are navigating the transition back to work. Provide a list of ways you've coped with the transition yourself, as well as your best parenting tips. Don't be afraid to discuss mothering skills as well as career skills. Work on creative solutions to the particular issues your mentee is facing in striking her new work/life balance.
Update Work Goals: A career-minded woman often faces a new reality once a new child enters the picture. Previous career goals may appear out of reach now that she has family responsibilities at home. Each mentee is affected by this differently, but good momtors help parents update her work goals and strategies for realizing them, explaining, where applicable, where the company is in a position to help them with their dreams either through continuing education support or specific training initiatives.
Being a role model for a working mother provides a support system, at work, that they can rely on just like the one they rely on at home with family and friends. Knowing they have someone in the office, who has knowledge about both being a mom and a career woman, will go a long way towards helping them make the transition successfully themselves.