Customer Engagement Is Key To Branding Yourself

The days are gone when a techie or a genius could build things in his garage and customers would find and buy the product, based purely on the “wow factor” of the technology. New technologies are everywhere today. People have seen so much that they are blasé, or actually fear pure technology. They want a personable brand, before they will consider the product.

They are overloaded by the media with amazing advertising messages, and people now realize that you can’t believe anything you see in pictures, and even videos can be edited to deliver any message. In fact, we are all media companies now, with our cell phones, computers, and professional-looking publishing tools. Read more

Who are the Angel Investors and Venture Capitalists with a focus on early-stage businesses started by minorities?

Although that’s probably not the right question to be asking (because the right investor is one who is investing in you as a businessperson, not you as a minorityperson), some firms and groups specializing in this sector are NMAN, the National Minority Angel Network (, MAIN, the Minority Angel Investor Network (http://www.minorityangelinvestor…), and Jalia Ventures(

*original post can be found on Quora @ *

How do angel investors typically deal with the legal agreements and similarly how would they help deal with legal issues for a startup they’ve invested in?

All investments by angels (and everyone else) in a company are made according to detailed legal documents that specify everything about the relationship among the various parties, the terms of the value exchange and the various rights and responsibilities of everyone involved. The paperwork can range from 5-10 pages for a pretty straightforward convertible note, up to 120 pages or more for a full Series A round.  Because these are legal documents, both parties (the company and the investor(s)) have their own lawyers, who work together to develop the actual agreements signed by the principals. Typically one lawyer will be responsible for the base drafting, with the other making comments, although in virtually all cases the documents are based on standard models that have been developed for use by anyone who wants to use them. Read more

Don’t Forget Grants If You Need Early Seed Money

In the US, many entrepreneurs see grants as “free money,” since they are not loans and don’t have to be repaid. A grant is not an equity investment, so the entrepreneur doesn’t have to give up a stake in the company either. Typically they can be used to fund product development and commercialization that would otherwise require outside investors.

A good place to start looking is the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, which is a lifeline for high-tech startups. A more general approach is to check out, which is a searchable directory of more than 1,000 federal grant programs. An advanced search tool is provided to search for a grant by eligibility, by issuing agency, or category. Read more

What’s a typical day like for a full-time angel investor?

There is no such thing as a full-time angel investor (or if there is, I’ve never met one.)

If you mean someone investing mostly other people’s money through a seed fund, they are venture capitalists, and their days are spent like other VCs, meeting with prospective investments, mentoring portfolio companies, raising money from limited partners, negotiating deals, and so forth.

If you mean someone investing his or her own money, such an angel is likely to be investing into between 1 and 10 companies a year (I was doing 15 at my most active). Since the average investment amount per angel per company is about $35,000, you can calculate that using the same 2-3% management fee metric as a venture fund, the opportunity cost of the angel’s time for all those deals would be somewhere between $700 and $10,000 per year. Since all angels are Accredited Investors (which means they’re millionaires if they’re not otherwise employed) it wouldn’t make any sense for them to do this on a full-time basis.

Instead, most angels are either retired, in which case investing is a part-time avocation while they go about doing whatever they enjoy doing in life, or else they are actively running other businesses, organizations or other activities. There’s an old saying “if you want something done in a hurry, give it to a busy man”, and that applies here. Some of the world’s most active angels, such as Yossi VardiReid Hoffman, or even me, all have extremely demanding day jobs, and squeeze angel investing into the nooks and crannies around everything else they do.

For example, I am currently leading the investment rounds in four deals simultaneously (probably some kind of angel record), and here is what my owntypical day might look like.


*original post can be found on Quora @ *