Finding the right angel investor imitates swinging back into the dating scene. You need a long-term relationship with someone you can trust. The landscape is undergoing some changes as recently as this month; however, and these changes may have long-term, lasting impacts on small businesses.
When a start-up business is ready for an infusion of capital—and is ready to give up a share of ownership—an investor can offer you the cash you need. Angel investors and venture capitalists across the U.S. have invested in thousands of businesses, providing the necessary leg up that many small companies need.
Angel investors – individuals with a large amount of capital and interest in investing in start-up companies in exchange for an equity share – can be influential in the success of small businesses. Likewise, venture capitalists invest in small businesses, but have access to capital that is not their own (i.e. pension funds, insurance companies, foundations). Angels typically solely invest in early-stage businesses (the Series A round of investing), while venture capitalists invest in later-stage businesses (Series B or Series C of investing).
However, the faces of angel and venture investing are changing with a new listing on AngelList (a website that connects startups, angel investors, and jobseekers) earlier this month. AngelList with Expansion VC invested in a $50 million Series C investment in Life360, a family networking app.
For the first time, angel investors could invest in a later-stage, more mature company. Head of AngelList’s fundraising products Ash Fontana stated, “We’ve seen dramatic wealth creation in private markets as companies delay their IPOs. Companies are staying private longer, raising more money through sites like AngelList and growing their valuations in the pre-IPO stage.”
Engaging With Potential Investors in Your Home State Proves Most Effective
The use of angel investors has often played a great role in business startups, but now these same investors can get in on the action later in the game for the first time. Life360 CEO and co-founder Chris Hulls noted, “AngelList played an important role in our Series A financing and we valued the relationships that emerged from that round… This relationship with AngelList allows us to bring in a prominent group of angel investors at this later stage in our growth.”
Angel investors appear to be more willing to fund start-ups in their own backyard, according to data collected by Silicon Valley Bank and CB Insights. In the “Halo Report,” based on angel deals completed within the first three months of 2014, an angel investor or group backed a start-up located in their own state in about 75% of deals.
If you’ve determined that angel investors may prove to be a viable solution for your fundraising concerns, your next logical question may be, “How much should I ask for?” According to the Halo Report, the median investment of deals funded entirely by angels in the first three months of 2014 was $980,000. If venture investors, companies like Expansion VC, were involved in the deal, however, the investment scale topped $1.6 million. Your next question may be, “Now, where to find angels?”
Thinking About Utilizing Angel Investors?
If you’re ready to approach angel investors, you will be looking for a partner you can trust in the long-term. Entrepreneur offers some tips on finding the right angel investor for your business:
- Look for investors with domain expertise or operational experience. These investors will add bench strength to the management team.
- Utilize investors with additional sources of capital to fuel your business.
- Use websites such as Quora, CB Insights, or AngelList to find potential angel investors.
The most effective way to access angel investors, even in the era of the Internet, has not changed: personal introduction. Look through your network to access common contacts and request a referral, or consider attending start-up-related events in your community to expand your network. But don’t forget about social media. While personal introduction is still the most effective way to find investors, engaging through social media is one more way to expand your network.
If your business is ready for a round of fundraising, you’ll need to be cautious as you evaluate potential investors. You may find that the best candidates for your business will be able to advise you on strategy and introduce you to potential customers, partners, or key hires. In other cases, you’ll want to rely on investors whose network and/or business expertise outpaces yours—giving you additional options for your business as it continues to grow.