Investors: Angels & Venture Capitalists

19.01.2016 |

Episode #6 of the course “A guide to seed fundraising” by Geoff Ralston, Y Combinator

 

The difference between an angel and a VC is that angels are amateurs and VCs are pros. VCs invest other people’s money and angels invest their own on their own terms. Although some angels are quite rigorous and act very much like the pros, for the most part they are much more like hobbyists. Their decision making process is usually much faster–they can make the call all on their own–and there is almost always a much larger component of emotion that goes into that decision.

VCs will usually require more time, more meetings, and will have multiple partners involved in the final decision. And remember, VCs see LOTS of deals and invest in very few, so you will have to stand out from a crowd.

The ecosystem for seed (early) financing is far more complex now than it was even five years ago. There are many new VC firms, sometimes called “super-angels,” or “micro-VC’s”, which explicitly target brand new, very early stage companies. There are also several traditional VCs that will invest in seed rounds. And there are a large number of independent angels who will invest anywhere from $25k to $100k or more in individual companies. New fundraising options seem to arrive every year, for example, AngelList Syndicates in which angels pool their resources and follow a single lead angel.

How does one meet and encourage the interest of investors? If you are about to present at a demo day, you are going to meet lots of investors. There are few such opportunities to meet a concentrated and motivated group of seed investors.

Besides a demo day, by far the best way to meet a venture capitalist or an angel is via a warm introduction. Angels will also often introduce interesting companies to their own networks. Otherwise, find someone in your network to make an introduction to an angel or VC. If you have no other options, do research on VCs and angels and send as many as you can a brief, but compelling summary of your business and opportunity.

 

Crowdfunding

There are a growing number of new vehicles to raise money, such as AngelList, Kickstarter, FundersClub, and Wefunder. These crowdfunding sites can be used to launch a product, run a pre-sales campaign, or find venture funding. In exceptional cases, founders have used these sites as their dominant fundraising source, or as clear evidence of demand.

They usually are used to fill in rounds that are largely complete or, at times, to reanimate a round that is having difficulty getting off the ground. The ecosystem around investing is changing rapidly, but when and how to use these new sources of funds will usually be determined by your success raising through more traditional means.

 

Recommended book

“The Startup Game: Inside the Partnership between Venture Capitalists and Entrepreneurs” by William H. Draper III

 

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