Notes from AngelConf

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Steve Poland‘s blog post covering AngelConf was good enough that I wanted to post it here.
My apologies for any typos, etc. These are some blurbs I made notes of from the AngelConf conference put on by Paul Graham of Y Combinator.
Ron Conway
  • “have to have a portfolio, to have hits”
  • “it’s not fun; it’s hugely interesting to talk to entrepreneurs who literally in front of you are telling you the future”.
  • “spend 25% of my time in philanthropy”
  • Need to be very dedicated to angel investing.
  • Don’t invest in someone you don’t really like; life is too short. Have personal chemistry.
  • You have to have value to add; you won’t get into the great deals [they have allocation problems; you have to fight your way in].
  • Be patient;
  • I recommend investing in a bunch of companies. [he invests 50k-100k]
  • 10k-25k to get your feet wet.
  • 1/3 of them will go out of business. Failure is part of learning process.
  • Pick a sector you like; I like sectors that are Internet and have massive growth. Invest in several companies in that sector.
  • Great deal flow (respect for entrepreneurs to get the access) and due diligence = great portfolio.
  • Build a referral network of entrepreneurs that you can invest in with, etc.
  • Reputation is very important – screw 1 entrepreneur, you’re screwed.
  • As lead angel, you need to take the entrepreneur to Sand Hill Road and you help them get funded.
Dave McClure
  • 13 deals personally in 4 years.
  • Plan to screw up the first 10 investments.
  • If goal is making money, this isn’t your thing.
  • How does an entrepreneur define success
Paul Bucheit
  • No signing of an NDA; if an entrepreneur requests one, they probably don’t have a clue.
  • Assume the money you invest is gone; it’s like lottery tickets.
Andrea Zurich
  • SGVentures
  • Do I like the product? Would I be proud to speak about it at thanksgiving or to my parents?
  • Can you explain it quickly?
Page Mailliard [Page Mailliard is a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where she specializes in corporate, securities, and venture capital law.]
  • Who are clients? Do they have contracts with them?
  • Is there a provision on change of control they can terminate?
Paul Graham
  • You buy either stock [shares like preferred stock] or convertible debt; either works; don’t worry about it.
  • Pick the right startups. When they talk about you, it’ll be, “He invested in Google!”
  • You care about valuation and amount of money you put in.
  • Dilution occurs next.
  • Invest 10k – 2mm; how much? If startup raising 1mm, 50k is OK – 10k isn’t worth the work for them.
  • Valuation – no rational way; no answer.
  • If the idea doesn’t seem a bit crazy, then you’re probably too late to the deal. It’s ok for it to be a bit crazy.
Naval Ravikant
  • Need tons of deal flow
  • Use time efficiently; yours, the entrepreneurs.
  • Deals from social friends;
  • High quality deals come from other angels [they are putting their money in it].
  • Don’t forward deals to other investors unless you’re investing in it.
  • What’s your brand as an angel? [I’m the VentureHacks guy; I’m of Y Combinator]
  • 2-3 founders.
  • Don’t take board seats – waste of time.
  • Very risky business
Michael Dearing
  • Orbiting the giant hairball – book.
Mike Maples Jr.
  • #12 – minimum number for statistical diversification.
  • Met with 100 investors in 100 days
  • $25k per quarter; 1 deal per quarter.
  • Lived in Austin; moved to valley 4 years ago.
  • If the startup cant be one of the big billion dollar businesses, not worthy of your time. We want the big deals in the end, be apart of the excitement.
  • Book by ‘talo’ – ‘fooled by randomness’
Ariel Poler
  • Balance your time – might spend 1 day a week with a company at first; then every other week; now at 500 people, hardly ever.
  • Once a quarter, organize a lunch for 4-5 entrepreneurs; choose a topic. Get them to help one another.
  • Connecting entrepreneurs with the right people is a big piece.
  • Panel of Dave Hornik and Greg Mcadoo from Sequoia:
  • Must tell the story efficiently as an entrepreneur
  • Big business opportunity.
Aydin Senkut
  • Don’t do convertibles.
  • “how do you differentiate and add value to something?”, so that others can talk about you and recommend you.
  • You need to be a connector; you need to meet people 1on1, and that’s how you meet really great people and companies.
  • 40 investments; 4 exits.
Jeff Clavier
  • 32 investments in 18 months; 250k each.
  • Big weights: founders, market scale, etc. Eventually scale tips.
  • Not being sure it’s a sure shot, but taking the shot anyway.
  • 74 deals in one year.
  • Don’t write the first check; don’t lead the investments as a new angel. [you need a syndicate of others that’ll join you]
  • Be content dealing with shit 24 hours a day.
Jim Young
  • Why should a good entrepreneur pick you?
  • There’s more money, than possible investments.
  • Takes less money now to do a startup.
  • Will the company benefit from your advice? [not money] If no, it’s likely a bad deal.
  • Contacts, experience, advice.
  • Only invest in things you know about, otherwise you’re a spectator buying a lottery ticket.
  • Find people to invest with.
  • “why you want to do this?”
  • You’re at bleeding edge of technologies.
  • Very very high chance you’ll never see the money back.
Michael Arrington
  • It’s “co-opetition” – they are all competitors in the crowd, but helping you to become another new competitor.
  • “More than a hobby, than a job”
  • If you enjoy doing what you do, you’ll have better access to deals, and firmer friendships with other investors.
  • Have to be nice.
  • As an angel, you’re shepherding the entrepreneur through a process.


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