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Entrepreneurship: How to tap into angel investing

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Angel investors are typically high net worth individuals and “cashed out” entrepreneurs who are interested in mentoring other entrepreneurs and sometimes get actively engaged in the businesses they back. The Center for Venture Research, at the University of New Hampshire, estimates that angels pump $25 billion into tens of thousands of startups annually.

In the past, angels have typically operated solo. But in a trend that is gaining momentum nationwide, angels are forming groups in order to pool resources and expertise, generate investment ideas and create a formal screening process to pinpoint the most promising prospects.

Here are tips about finding and approaching angels, from the Angel Capital Education Foundation:

1. Angels are not venture capitalists (VC). Angels invest their own personal funds in a business. VC money usually comes from institutional sources. Angels also back startup and early-stage businesses, while venture capitalists prefer later-stage companies. Individual angels invest $5,000 to $100,000, while VC investments go $2 million and up.

2. To attract angel interest, be willing to give up some ownership or control of your business, and be able to show a significant return within three to seven years, as well as a profitable exit strategy.

Seek angel funding when: a) your product is fully developed; b) you’ve already invested your own money and exhausted other alternatives (like family and friends); c) you have existing or confirmed potential customers; d) you can demonstrate that the business is likely to grow fast and can pass $10 million in revenues within three to five years.

4. Angel groups come in many forms, but generally share these traits: Members help screen firms and commit to a certain amount of investments yearly. Groups meet regularly (often monthly) to hear investor presentations. Member angels decide individually whether to invest in a business. Members work jointly to validate plans, statements and entrepreneur backgrounds.

5. While angel group sizes vary widely, the median pooled investment per round is around $400,000. Some groups focus on specific areas, such as technology, but most are open to a variety of industry sectors, including software, medical devices, services and manufacturing.

— Daniel Kehrer, Bizbest Media


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