Living and working in the Silicon Valley as I do, it’s almost inevitable that I meet with a lot of active and aspiring entrepreneurs. On the whole, the early company founders tend to be engineers whose passions drive them to create proofs of concept for their ideas. If the late nights don’t do them in, an embryonic company is formed. Marketers tends not to be added until such time as the product progresses into something feasible and there’s a little money in the bank to launch, communicate and promote what’s on offer. Generally we don’t see this until VCs are involved.

For a lot of early entrepreneurs, raising money is the next hurdle once the prototype is looking good. This is definitely a lot easier for those who are independently wealthy or blessed with a network of supportive, talented friends who’ve cashed out of their last company to EMC, Cisco, etc., but are too young to retire. Aptly- named angel investors supply an alternative.

Although the Silicon Valley is rife with tales of Venture Capitalists and IPOs, less is understood about angel investors, even though they have helped the likes of Google and Apple get their start. A great resource for tracking angel activity is the Halo Report, which is published by The Angel Resource Institute, Silicon Valley Bank and CB Insights. Here are a few quick facts:

  • The majority of angel investment activity is concentrated in California and New England.
  • Internet and healthcare-related ventures accounted for approximately half of all angel investments in 2012.
  • Angel investment rounds are averaging around $1-$1.2M.*
  • Pre-Series A valuations for companies with angel investments average around $2.6M.

*I think this number is a bit skewed towards group angel and “superangel” investors, as many individual angel investments are sub-$200,000, as recorded anecdotally.

 Angel investors are often seasoned entrepreneurs themselves, so can bring passion, expertise and support beyond what you might ordinarily expect from a later stage investor. They tend to be savvy to the fact that failure rates for early start ups are high (about 50%), but are willing to invest across several companies and/or limit their activities to an area of personal expertise (e.g. storage management software, but not hardware) to mitigate their risks, absorb losses and still achieve expected overall investment returns of 2.5X.

Check out:

Angel Resource Institute – www.angelresourceinstitute.org

Returns to Angel Investors in Groups by Robert Wiltbank, Ph.D. and Warren Boeker Ph. D. – http://sites.kauffman.org/pdf/angel_groups_111207.pdf

About the Author

Agnes Lamont is an accomplished marketer of IT products and a partner at Marketingsage, a PR and lead generation firm that specializes in marketing data storage, data management, security, and enterprise software products. She can be reached by email at blog [at] marketingsage.net. Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join her network on LinkedIn and to subscribe to this blog (see sidebar).

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