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!
"Sh*t!" my daughter exclaimed as she dropped her iPad to the floor. A little bit of context; my daughter Victoria absolutely loves her iPad. And as I watched her bemoan the possible destruction of her favorite device, I thought to myself, "If I were in her position, I'd probably say the exact same thing."
In the Rastegar family, a word is only a bad word if used improperly. This is a concept that has almost become a family motto. Because in our household, we do things a little differently. To put it frankly, our practices are a little unconventional. Completely safe, one hundred percent responsible- but sure, a little unconventional.
And that's because my husband Ari and I have always felt akin in one major life philosophy; we want to live our lives our way. We have dedicated ourselves to a lifetime of questioning the world around us. And it's that philosophy that has led us to some unbelievable discoveries, especially when it comes to parenting.
Ari was an English major. And if there's one thing that can be said about English majors, it's that they can be big-time sticklers for the rules. But Ari also thinks outside of the box. And here's where these two characteristics meet. Ari was always allowed to curse as a child, but only if the word fit an appropriate and relevant context. This idea came from Ari's father (his mother would have never taken to this concept), and I think this strange practice really molded him into the person he is today.
But it wasn't long after we met that I discovered this fun piece of Ari Rastegar history, and I got to drop a pretty awesome truth bomb on Ari. My parents let me do the same exact thing…
Not only was I allowed to curse as a child, but I was also given a fair amount of freedom to do as I wanted. And the results of this may surprise you. You see, despite the lack of heavy regulating and disciplining from my parents, I was the model child. Straight A's, always came home for curfew, really never got into any significant trouble- that was me. Not trying to toot my own horn here, but it's important for the argument. And don't get the wrong impression, it's not like I walked around cursing like a sailor.
Perhaps I was allowed to curse whenever I wanted, but that didn't mean I did.
And this is where we get to the amazing power of this parenting philosophy. In my experience, by allowing my own children to curse, I have found that their ability to self-regulate has developed in an outstanding fashion. Over the past few years, Victoria and Kingston have built an unbelievable amount of discipline. And that's because our decision to allow them to curse does not come without significant ground rules. Cursing must occur under a precise and suitable context, it must be done around appropriate company, and the privilege cannot be overused. By following these guidelines, Victoria and Kingston are cultivating an understanding of moderation, and at a very early age are building a social awareness about when and where certain types of language are appropriate. And ultimately, Victoria and Kingston are displaying the same phenomenon present during my childhood. Their actual instances of cursing are extremely low.
And beneath this parenting strategy is a deeper philosophy. Ari and I first and foremost look at parenting as educators. It is not our job to dictate who our children will be, how they shall behave, and what their future should look like.
We are not dictators; we are not imposing our will on them. They are autonomous beings. Their future is in their hands, and theirs alone.
Rather, we view it as our mission to show our children what the many possibilities of the world are and prepare them for the litany of experiences and challenges they will face as they develop into adulthood. Now, when Victoria and Kingston come across any roadblocks, they have not only the tools but the confidence to handle these tensions with pride, independence, and knowledge.
And we have found that cursing is an amazing place to begin this relationship as educators. By allowing our children to curse, and gently guiding them towards the appropriate use of this privilege, we are setting a groundwork of communication that will eventually pay dividends as our children grow curious of less benign temptations; sex, drugs, alcohol. There is no fear, no need to slink behind our backs, but rather an open door where any and all communication is rewarded with gentle attention and helpful wisdom.
The home is a sacred place, and honesty and communication must be its foundation. Children often lack an ability to communicate their exact feelings. Whether out of discomfort, fear, or the emotional messiness of adolescence, children can often be less than transparent. Building a place of refuge where our children feel safe enough to disclose their innermost feelings and troubles is, therefore, an utmost priority in shepherding their future. Ari and I have come across instances where our children may have been less than truthful with a teacher, or authority figure simply because they did not feel comfortable disclosing what was really going on. But with us, they know that honesty is not only appreciated but rewarded and incentivized. This allows us to protect them at every turn, guard them against destructive situations, and help guide and problem solve, fully equipped with the facts of their situation.
And as crazy as it all sounds- I really believe in my heart that the catalogue of positive outcomes described above truly does stem from our decision to allow Victoria and Kingston to curse freely.
I know this won't sit well with every parent out there. And like so many things in life, I don't advocate this approach for all situations. In our context, this decision has more than paid itself off. In another, it may exacerbate pre-existing challenges and prove to be only a detriment to your own family's goals.
As the leader of your household, this is something that you and you alone must decide upon with intentionality and wisdom.
Ultimately, Ari and I want to be the kind of people our children genuinely want to be around. Were we not their parents, I would hope that Victoria and Kingston would organically find us interesting, warm, kind, funny, all the things we aspire to be for them each and every day.
We've let our children fly free, and fly they have. They are amazing people. One day, when they leave the confines of our home, they will become amazing adults. And hopefully, some of the little life lessons and eccentric parenting practices we imparted upon them will serve as a support for their future happiness and success.