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What are Angel Investors Looking For?

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Its late and I am kind of totally pumped up. 

We’ve had two conferences in a row that we’ve been lucky enough to attend.  And part of that privilege means we have gotten to learn some really cool things - including information about Angel Investors. 

Last week at the Princeton Marriott - there was an event sponsored by www.NJEN.com the New Jersey Entrepreneur Network - and invited entrepreneurs were able to mingle with about a dozen Angel Investors from the NY/NJ area.  Part of the event included a five minute presentation by representatives of each Angel Network - all of whom spoke about what they are looking for in making investments.  

The most important thing?

"Can You Deliver?"

Time and time again, the angel investors stood up and said, that the majority of their decisions to invest rested on their belief that the entrepreneur asking for funding would be able to deliver on their concept.  

Much of the rest of the advice included a large dose of common sense.  

1.  Do your research. 
Know what industries specific investors actively invest in.  The majority of the investors speaking with us at the event are currently active in the medical and technology sectors.  

2.  Think like an investor.
When putting together your pitch, answer the questions that investors are going to ask. Know what their background is.  Know what their expertise is, and think about what angle they are going to approach you in their line of questioning.  Be able to tell them about the market you are targeting, how large it is, and perhaps most importantly: What problem you are solving for that market, and how/why you are going to do it better than the competition

3.  Know about the funding trends in your sector
Interestingly, Angels are looking to invest in firms to get them to the next round.  The next round is typically Venture Capital.  If VC firms have backed off a specific area, and are not funding at historic rates, then angels - by necessity will also back off that area - because the numbers do not favor those investments reaching the next level.  

4.  Include your address and contact information on your pitch deck. 
One angel investor pointed out how many times they receive pitch decks without this information.  Typically entrepreneurs think that since they are sending a pitch deck via email that contact information is sufficient.  But pitch decks are distributed, and not always with the original email.  So it is important that there is a clear way to contact the entrepreneur.  

5.  Don’t burn your bridges
People can get angry.  Funding periods can stretch out due to unforseen occurrences.  When an entrepreneur needs money, and feels under the gun it is easy to grow impatient or even angry at a process that can suddenly seem longer or more complicated than you planned.  Don’t let that frustration put you at a disadvantage.  Even pitches that don’t wind up being funded can put you into contact with people who can offer you contacts to other angels.  Remember that you never know what a team can do to help you, even if that help doesn’t come in the form of money that you were expecting to receive.  

6.  Network within the area that you are targeting
When you network with people in your industry - you may find that you can align yourself with a champion who knows you and believes in you and/or your idea.  That sort of connection can make a world of a difference.  Some areas where you might find a champion?  Service providers.  Networked introductions weigh more heavily to angel investors than cold calls. If you are having trouble reaching out to an angel investment group sometimes your lawyer, or accountant may be able to make that introduction for you.  

7.  Be enthusiastic.
Believe in yourself and your product, and that enthusiasm will draw investors in.  As it was pointed out angels are investors not donors.  They want to fund the dreams of entrepreneurs, but they are funding those dreams in the pursuit of profits.  Your enthusiasm is one of the best ways to convince an angel that you are indeed the person that can deliver.  And remember, enthusiasm doesn’t always mean being happy and joyous, it means having a passion about the space you are in, and being well read and knowledgeable about that space.  If you know everything their is to know about your audience and your competition and you are driven enough to know potential pitfalls you will be able to answer all questions that investors can throw at you and show them that not only do you have a clear path to success, but that you can think on your feet, and realistically consider the eventual obstacles that every entrepreneur finds they have to out maneuver on the road to success.  

Filed under entrepreneur startup tech angel investors vc fundraising nj