Why are the majority of angel investors focused on opportunities with large TAM?

Because of the economic realities of angel investing, not greed.

The hard and unforgiving facts are that the majority of all angel-backed ventures fail completely, losing all the money of all the investors. Of the remaining investments, most will return either the same amount that was originally invested, or perhaps be a moderate success and return two or three times the investment.

The problem is that since the average holding period for an angel investment is around nine years, that means by the time you’ve toted up the returns for 90% of your investments, and subtracted out the time value of money, the one verysuccessful investment in the entire portfolio must return at least *30* times the original investment!

And even with those metrics, and assuming an optimistic holding period of only sixyears instead of nine, the net annual return on all of the investor’s angel activity will be 25%…a pretty limited compensation for taking the enormous risks, active involvement and lengthy period of illiquidity involved.

But assuming we are willing to live with the 25% return, and [obviously] can’t tellwhich of the ten investments is going to be that one “home run”, at the time we make the investment we have to do our best to ensure that ALL of the companies we invest are at least theoretically capable of being a 30x hit.

Therefore, if the maximum market cap we can hope for from a company is $2 million at the end of the day, and our investment needs to return 30x, that means the post-money valuation after our investment needs to be $2m ÷ 30, or $66,666.

If you were therefore looking for an angel investment of $50,000 to fund your company, for example, subtracting that from the $66,666 post-money valuation means that the investor would have to value your startup at $16,666, and would therefore need to own 75% of the company before you got started.

The harsh realities of economics and business turn out to have very, very little to do with greed and evil, and much more to do with Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand.

*original post can be found on Quora @ http://www.quora.com/David-S-Rose/answers *

Do you have to be tech savvy to start a business these days?

It depends on how you define “tech savvy”:

The appropriate analogy would be to ask if you need to be “auto savvy”. If the question is “do I need to know how to drive a car, be comfortable fueling my vehicle at a gas station, and understand the difference between a sports car, an SUV, a panel van and a semi-trailer?”, the answer is an absolute yes.

On the other hand, if the question is “do I need to be able to take apart a carburetor, replace my timing belts and re-bore my cylinders?”, the answer is an equally resounding no.

The tech translation would be:

“Do I need to be able to code in Python, understand the technical differences between Postgres and MySQL, and architect a high-speed trading system?”


“Do I need to understand the concepts of things such as cloud computing, APIs and Search Engine Optimization, be able to craft a basic query on Google and know the key differences between LinkedIn, Facebook, Yahoo and Quora?”


*original post can be found on Quora @ http://www.quora.com/David-S-Rose/answers *

How True Entrepreneurs Make Themselves Accountable

Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

Everyone seems to like the aspect of being an entrepreneur that goes with “being your own boss” and “able to do things my way.” But sometimes they forget that this kind of freedom comes with a price of personal accountability. Accountability means “the buck stops here,” and “all the failures are mine.”

Too many people seem to do whatever it takes to avoid accountability, both before and after the fact. I suspect that this is largely caused by a fear of the unknown, and a lack of confidence in their own abilities. People with confidence problems and fear problems should avoid the entrepreneur role, since success without accountability is rare. Read more

How often do investors take a meeting with companies that they have rejected when the company was in its early stages?

It happens, but it’s not typical, given their limited time and the large number of companies they need to process in order to find the “keepers”.

Things that increase their likelihood of being open to another meeting after having previously passed on an investment:

  • A case where the entrepreneur was specifically asked to “come back after they have more traction.”
  • A major, public, positive event affecting the company
  • A significant change in stage, if that was one of the stated reasons for passing (such as “we only invest in post-revenue companies”)
  • A direct re-recommendation from a highly trusted source who is aware of the earlier pass and recommends a re-look
  • A case where the investor loved the entrepreneur but was skeptical about the business, and something has now seriously changed or been de-risked.

*original post can be found on Quora @ http://www.quora.com/David-S-Rose/answers *

How do I shake off needy investors?

Does the company have a board of directors? Are there any investor representatives on it?  If there is a “lead” Investor with whom you have a good relationship, you might try having him act as your front man. Otherwise, you might try sending ALL your investors something like this: Read more

High Performing Virtual Teams Have 8 Key Attributes

Virtual Team meeting image via Wikimedia blog

Almost every startup is a virtual team these days, since most don’t start out with dedicated office space, and some or all members of the team work part-time or out of their own home. It’s a small world, so these team members may not even be in the same town, or the same country. Outsourcing is just another extension of the virtual team concept to people you don’t even know.

Working effectively with a virtual team of any sort has many challenges. How do entrepreneurs establish and maintain rapport with people they rarely see, and team members who have never met? How do they keep track of what everyone is doing and assure effective communication between all team members? Read more

What happens when a company is acquired for less money than it raised in funding?

Every investment round in a company is made on the basis of extensivepaperwork (often upwards of 100 pages in total) specifying *precisely* what happens when it comes time to pay out the proceeds (if any) from the sale or dissolution of the company. And since all prior investors sign such agreements—or are otherwise legally bound by them—there is never any confusion about exactly what will happen under any particular outcome. Read more