Jose and I have been angel investing for over 14 years. We love angel investing. We love working closely with entrepreneurs. It’s an amazing learning experience and source of inspiration. It also helps us keep a finger on the pulse of the market. While we have been doing it for fun as much as anything alongside our day jobs, we developed a set of heuristics that has made our investing much more economically rewarding than we originally expected.What we look for:
We invest in consumer facing businesses in ecommerce, travel and marketplaces. Of late we have also been considering mobile startups and SAAS sites targeting small businesses.
We invest in new innovative ideas in the US or copies of established ideas in large foreign markets, especially Brazil, Germany, Russia and Turkey. We expect the site to be live and the entrepreneur to grasp the unit economics of the business even if the site’s revenues are still low (e.g.; below $20k / month).
Send us a Powerpoint instead of a business plan or executive summary. Make sure it covers traction, business model, unit economics, funding history, terms of this round and use of funds.
Most studies suggest that angels with fewer than 10 investments lose money, while those with more than 10 investments make money. Moreover, the more investments angels make, the higher their IRR as it increases their probability of a huge hit. You don’t want to invest in everything, but informed “spray and pray” seems to work, especially given the huge amount of luck involved in the success of Internet startups. Time and time again startups in my portfolio that I thought were dead came back and did extraordinarily well, while former high flyers crashed and burned!
Our 9 Business Selection Criteria:
1. At least a $1 billion addressable market
2. A valid business model understood from the get go
3. Does not require more than $2 million in seed or $15 million in first round VC money
4. A business where you have a real shot at being one of the top players – at least in the region you are targeting
5. A scalable idea
6. A business with little or no risk of disintermediation and/or margin compression by suppliers and/or customers
7. A business that is in a rapidly growing market
8. An idea that I know how to execute on or can learn how to execute on
9. An idea that I like and want to do!