Angel Group 2.0

Angel Group 2dot0I recently did a deck and moderated a talk at the Angel Capital Association Leadership Conference in Boston about ways angel groups may evolve to adapt to changing market conditions over the coming years, particularly crowdfunding platforms allowing for new kinds of less-traditional investing (i.e. less contact with the companies, potentially less value-add, larger, less-tightly integrated syndicates). The observations represent the thinking of the leaders of some of largest groups in California, Massachusetts, Texas.  I have been asked repeatedly to share the slides, so here they are (email readers can access them here). PS: thanks to George McQuilken of Angel Investing News for the nice write up on this. Maia Heymann of Common Angels, Ralph Meyers of TechCoast Angels and Jamie Rhodes of Central Texas Angel Network were awesome to work with and brainstorm with.

Comments, questions or reactions to this post? Leave a note below and I will respond to your questions.
If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy: Some Perspective on SEC Rule 506 General SolicitationFunding Startups (Panel Video)Swimming Against the Tide (Angel Investing)Nailing The One Minute PitchHow Do You Define Success?Start-Up Marketing SeriesCustomer Crowdfunding: Not So Fast Entrepreneurs (Again!)Constructing a PitchPick Your Angel Investors Wisely (David Hornik)Why Angels Chase ElectronsBoards vs. Advisory BoardsInterview: State of the VC & Angel Market and How to Raise Money, Delusional EconomicsTen Rules For Navigating in The Age of OutrageThat Vision ThingThe Power of An Advisory BoardLoch Ness, Unicorns & The First-Mover AdvantageDoes This Slide Deck Make Me Look Fat?,  The Long Road to Instant SuccessTop Angel Investors in New EnglandLaunchpad Overview – Angel Video Interview SeriesCustomer Crowdfunding: Not So Fast, EntrepreneursCrowdfunding: You Cannot Make This Stuff Up!Angel Video Interview Series,  VC Investing: Are the Lines Starting to Converge?Thoughts on CrowdfundingEntrepreneur at Work: Caine’s Arcade,  The Crowdfunding Interview (Frank Peters Show), Pattern Matching Can Cause BlindspotsGetting Off The Ground; Early Formation EconomicsPitch Clinic at MassChallenge (Video)Are Entrepreneurs Wild Risk-Takers?Top 20 Dos & Don’ts with Angel Groups & Early Stage FinancingWhat I Look For In An EntrepreneurThe OvertureDo The Right ThingOpen Forum with Angel, Seed and VC Investors (Video)Pick Your Founder/Co-Investors Carefully & Reflections on the Nature of EntrepreneursShould I Wait For A Technical Co-Founder?When Do You Need My Slide Deck?20 Bootstrapping Ideas.
Subscribe – To get an automatic feed of all future posts subscribe to the RSS feed here, or to receive them via email enter your address in the box in the upper right or go here and enter your email address in the box in the upper right. You can also follow me on Twitter @cmirabile and on Google+.

 

How Do Investors Think About Risk?

RiskI recently did an interview with Greg Stoller, a Boston College Carroll School of Management professor of entrepreneurship who is studying risk from different perspectives. He asked me for my thoughts on risk from the perspective of early stage investors, and since I have a lot of entrepreneurs as Scratchpaper readers, I figured I’d share my answers here.

1. From your financier’s perch, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when I mention Risk Assessment?

I guess the first question is what kind of risk are we talking about: market adoption risk, technology risk, team risk, future financing risk?

2. How much does risk, or things not going as planned, factor into your decision to make an investment?

We think about it all the time. When we invest, we are taking calculated risks. Markets reward risk-takers.

3. If you choose to invest, but determine the risks are substantial, how might you change your investment terms?

Markets are pretty efficient. People generally have to be compensated for taking on risk. In the early stage investing world, valuation – what is typically referred to as the pre-money valuation – is usually the first lever people reach for. Think of buying a used car – would you pay more for a car sold “as is” or for a car with a very good warranty? Less risk with the warranty. That will be reflected in the price. But there are other tools which can be used to mitigate risk or to allocate it to another party. Examples might include allocating some of the risk of founder departure back to the founders through vesting of stock, or mitigating some of the risk that things might take longer than planned through the accruing  of interest on preferred stock.

4. If the potential risks come from competing products, how aggressive are you in either purchasing those other products, or having your portfolio companies do that for you?

Competition doesn’t faze us as much as you might think. Sure, we’ll research it and try to understand the market dynamics, but show me a company with no competition and I will show you a company with no market, no validation of its concept. Sometimes that kind of blue ocean opportunity can be a great thing – every new market had to be invented at some point. But it is harder and takes longer than most people realize. There were a lot of god-awful MP3 players prior to the iPod’s seemingly overnight success. At the other extreme, we might shy away from a very crowded or mature market, but in most cases we are focusing more on finding differentiated solutions guided by exceptional teams.

5. What advice would you give to entrepreneurs on risk disclosure?

Put it all out there and control your own narrative. Investors evaluate stories like yours all day and they are usually pretty good at differentiating between competence and confidence. Just explain the challenges and what you do about them. Then ask the investor for help or advice in overcoming them.

6. Is their creativity in discussing how to mitigate them important?

Sure. How they think about it, discuss it, analyze it gives us great insight into the quality of their thinking process, their ambition, their tenacity, their pragmatism, their resilience, and their likelihood of success.

7. How about the disclosure of general business or economic concerns?

There is some scope for entrepreneurs to help themselves by having a plan that is realistic and viable in the face of some headwinds, but at the end of the day, those macro issues are the investors problem to assess. We expect entrepreneurs to be incurable optimists, so we make adjustments for that.

8. How much do you rely on sensitivity analysis, or scenario planning in determining the durability of the business model?

Less than you might think in terms of sophistication. At the stage where we invest, there is so much that is unknown, that it can be hard to look too many chess moves ahead. You quickly get into hypotheticals built on hypotheticals. The reality is that 90% of the non-fatal problems fall into the “takes longer and costs more” bucket.

Comments, questions or reactions to this post? Leave a note below and I will respond to your questions.
If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy:Funding Startups (Panel Video)Swimming Against the Tide (Angel Investing)Nailing The One Minute PitchStart-Up Marketing SeriesConstructing a PitchDelusional EconomicsThat Vision ThingThe Power of An Advisory BoardTop Angel Investors in New EnglandAngel Video Interview Series, Thoughts on CrowdfundingEntrepreneur at Work: Caine’s Arcade,  The Crowdfunding Interview (Frank Peters Show), Getting Off The Ground; Early Formation EconomicsPitch Clinic at MassChallenge (Video)Are Entrepreneurs Wild Risk-Takers?Top 20 Dos & Don’ts with Angel Groups & Early Stage FinancingWhat I Look For In An EntrepreneurThe OvertureDo The Right ThingOpen Forum with Angel, Seed and VC Investors (Video)Pick Your Founder/Co-Investors Carefully & Reflections on the Nature of Entrepreneurs.

Subscribe – To get an automatic feed of all future posts subscribe to the RSS feed here, or to receive them via email enter your address in the box in the upper right or go here and enter your email address in the box in the upper right. You can also follow me on Twitter @cmirabile and on Google+.

 

 

Some Perspective on SEC Rule 506(c)

CrowdfundingWhat, exactly, are the new general solicitation rules?  And what, in simple terms, do they mean?

Everyone is saying the same thing since new SEC crowdfunding rules came into effect on September 23, 2013: “can someone please explain this in simple terms?”  I believe I ought to be able to – being an angel with a background in securities law ought to have some silver lining…  But keep in mind that in doing so, I am deliberately going to omit minor elements of these rules for the sake of clarity and simplicity. And in case it is not abundantly clear, this blog post is not legal advice – it is educational background information. Get yourself a lawyer if you are planning an offering – this is complicated stuff.

Quick History Lesson

For the last 80 or so years, the basic rule on selling stock has been that no issuer is permitted to sell stock to the public without either (i) a registration statement full of mandated disclosures (e.g. the long Form S-1 associated with most IPOs), or (ii) a special exemption from that registration statement requirement.

The most popular exemption from the registration statement requirement for the last 30 years has been Rule 506 under Regulation D. Rule 506 allows certain private companies to raise unlimited capital without a registration statement PROVIDED: (i) they only sold to “Accredited Investors” (with a narrow exception) and (ii) they did not use “General Solicitation” in connection with the offering. (Accredited Investors are investors the SEC deems sophisticated and able to bear losses because they are rich. General Solicitation is not defined by the SEC, but, based in part on Rule 502(c) and various no action letters over the years, it is generally agreed to be pretty much any form of public discussion or public advertising of the terms of the offering.)  As long as it was a private sale to accredited folks, an issuer did not need to file a registration statement.

What Has Changed

On the surface, very little. In 2012, Congress passed the JOBS Act which required the SEC to lift the ban on general solicitation and bring their rules into the modern Internet era. The SEC has dragged its feet on this, and rightly so, because Congress’ mandate was more political pandering than well-thought out plan. But in September of 2013, the SEC finally rolled out its rule and lifted the ban on general solicitation.

What Hasn’t Changed

The SEC went to some lengths to preserve the existing practices. The original process of making private offerings to accredited investors was retained – the exact rule was preserved and given the new name, Rule 506(b). And the new rule was added as new section, Rule 506(c). So in theory, current angel practices should be allowed to continue without interruption, and all is well.

Where is the Problem?

If in theory everything can stay the same, where is the problem? Cue one of my favorite observations, which is that while in theory, theory and practice are the same, in practice, they turn out not to be. Unfortunately, in practice, with general solicitation guidelines so broad, it is going to be far too easy to fall accidentally out of the old 506(b) process and into the brave new world of 506(c).

And the problem with 506(c) is that if a company has used general solicitation, they can no longer take an investors’ word for it that they are accredited. For the last 30 years, accredited investors have been checking a simple self-certification box in their deal paperwork, and it has been viewed as reasonable for companies to rely on investor self-certification in ensuring it complies with Reg D Rule 506.

Now that the SEC is allowing companies to use general solicitation and advertise to the world that they are raising money, the SEC feels companies should take “reasonable steps” to verify that investors are accredited. What are “reasonable steps?” This, the SEC refused to say, beyond saying the old self-certification was no longer good enough. They said it is a “principles-based” rule, and that companies, investors and lawyers should, in effect, figure it out for themselves.

At the urging of early commenters, the SEC did provide some safe harbors, but these were so invasive and draconian that angel investors the world over became apoplectic at the thought of them. The safe harbors included such things as looking at tax filings, bank statements, having investment advisors or lawyers certify, looking at credit reports, and so on. Things that (i) investors are extremely unwilling to submit to for data privacy and other reasons, and (ii) represent a level of per-investor effort that companies could ill-afford to undertake.

As if this weren’t bad enough, the SEC’s new rules have also put a spotlight on exactly what general solicitation is in this new modern internet enabled start-up world of ours. This spotlight is expected by many to result in greater scrutiny of company and investor behavior. Unfortunately, a lot of loose practices which have sort of quietly existed in the shadows are now being thrust into the light. Demo days and Pitch contests, for example, are pretty clearly general solicitation if they include any reference to open rounds, money raising, investors, etc. and they have an audience that includes unaccredited investors, members of the press, etc. Similarly, blogs, websites, tweets, video interviews and other examples of the normal start-up chatter we are all used to may also qualify.

We don’t know where things will end up when the dust settles, nor how much of an enforcement priority this will be for the SEC. But the implications are clear: even if you think you are still doing a normal quiet offering under the old (b) rules, the new sensibilities around general solicitation may cause you to fall inadvertently into 506(c) territory.

Once your offering falls into (c) territory, you now have to take steps to ensure that all the investors are accredited (and that no one involved in the offering is a “bad actor” – a separate set of hoops I am omitting from this discussion, but compliance with which is quite burdensome and troublesome to investors and companies alike.)

In addition, there are some new proposed rules which would, among other things, require 15 day advance submission to the SEC of any general solicitation materials along with extensive information on a new Form D, and legends on the materials themselves (which legends, many wags have noted, are longer than 140 characters. If your legend is longer than the permitted length of a tweet, it is going to be hard to use twitter to talk about your company. The horror.) Perhaps even more worrying is that the SEC would require breaches to be cured within 30 days, and would only allow one such breach in the lifetime of each company. After that, the company is barred from using Rule 506 to raise money, and presumably can be more harshly sanctioned for further breaches. Given that many breaches would be accidental, most view these proposed rules as unworkably harsh. And investors fear the spectre of having their early money get stranded in a dead in the water company that cannot easily rase more without going to some other more traditional and labor-intenstive offering under another area of Section 4(2). Fortunately, the SEC has reopened the comment period for these proposed rules; you can still sound off here.

So taken altogether, these new rules initially appeared to most to be a disaster for early stage investing, and everyone has understandably been very upset.

The Way Forward

In my view, however, while we still have a lot to figure out, there are some reasons to be hopeful that with time and repetition, we will eventually find a workable new status quo. One that balances the important and legitimate need to protect against fraud with the equally important need to fund innovation, create jobs and keep our economy competitive on the global stage.

Why are you Optimistic?

Part of the basis for my optimism is that the SEC’s “principles based approach” allows for some common sense to be applied. In essence, what it says is that more likely it is that someone is accredited, the less you have to do to verify (and vise versa). This means that companies dealing with professional angels may not have to go too far out of their way. For example, the Angel Capital Association has outlined a very reasonable approach.  The ACA has spoken extensively with the SEC and received some comfort that companies dealing with and Established Angel Group (“EAG”) may rely on that fact, in combination with the traditional written certification, as their reasonable steps. The ACA’s logic is that an EAG is a private, invitation-only group where new members must be vetted by existing members, must certify that they are accredited, and are doing these deals repeatedly and of their own accord. Further, the groups make no recommendation as to the investments, and no one gets any transaction-based brokerage fees or compensation in connection with offerings. (Such brokers being a major source of fraud and an enforcement priority for the SEC.)  For more details on the ACA position, see their white paper here and their JOBS Act resources center here.)

Why Else?

Another part of the basis for my optimism is that it is relatively easy to separate general discussion about a company from discussion about an offering. Today they seem inextricably intertwined, but once we have a sense of some guardrails, it will be relatively easy to remove offering information from demo days and pitch contests and reserve that information for a separate reception to which only accredited investors are invited by non-general solicitation. It will require some deliberate effort and rejiggering, but in relatively short order it will become the new habitual norm.

And?

And finally, although I am loathe to contemplate it, if needed, a whole industry will spring up to provide verification of investor accreditation if needed. I hope this is not necessary, and I hope that reliance on such third parties does not become the norm, but if it has to, it will happen. Consider that not long ago there was a huge fuss over how mandatory Rule 409A valuations were going to be the end of the world, and seemingly overnight, an army of firms has popped up to provide these valuations in a timely and somewhat cost effective fashion. And more importantly, companies have found less formal, but equally valid ways to conduct these valuations.

Net/Net, It’s Gonna Be OK

So in the end, while change is hard, and anxiety is the knee-jerk reaction, I feel pretty confident that this will work itself out.  And angel investing will continue to fund innovation, create jobs and keep our economy competitive on the global stage.

Epilogue

I only wish I could say the same about crowdfunding, which I think has the potential to be a lot messier.  For some thoughts on that, see Thoughts on Crowdfunding, Chris Dixon: Startup Crowdfunding, Fred Wilson: Leading vs Following.

Christopher Mirabile is a full-time angel in Boston and one of two Managing Directors of Launchpad Venture Group. Bio here.  

Comments, questions or reactions to this post? Leave a note below and I will respond to your questions.
If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy: Fred Wilson: Leading vs FollowingChris Dixon: Some thoughts on startup crowdfundingFunding Startups (Video)Swimming Against the Tide (Angel Investing)Nailing The One Minute PitchStart-Up Marketing SeriesCustomer Crowdfunding: Not So Fast Entrepreneurs (Again!)Constructing a PitchPick Your Angel Investors Wisely (David Hornik)Why Angels Chase ElectronsBoards vs. Advisory BoardsInterview: State of the VC & Angel Market and How to Raise MoneyDelusional EconomicsThat Vision ThingThe Power of An Advisory BoardLoch Ness, Unicorns & The First-Mover AdvantageDoes This Slide Deck Make Me Look Fat?,  The Long Road to Instant SuccessTop Angel Investors in New EnglandLaunchpad Overview – Angel Video Interview SeriesCustomer Crowdfunding: Not So Fast, EntrepreneursAngel Video Interview Series,  Thoughts on CrowdfundingThe Crowdfunding Interview (Frank Peters Show), Getting Off The Ground; Early Formation EconomicsPitch Clinic at MassChallenge (Video)Top 20 Dos & Don’ts with Angel Groups & Early Stage FinancingWhat I Look For In An EntrepreneurThe OvertureOpen Forum with Angel, Seed and VC Investors (Video)20 Bootstrapping Ideas.
Subscribe – To get an automatic feed of all future posts subscribe to the RSS feed here, or to receive them via email enter your address in the box in the upper right or go here and enter your email address in the box in the upper right. You can also follow me on Twitter @cmirabile and on Google+.

Fred Wilson: Leading vs Following

Fred Wilson just wrote a great post on startup crowdfunding in which he talks about the critical differences between being a lead investor and a follower when funding startups. Like the Chris Dixon piece, it is very worth your time, so I am republishing it here (original, with comments can be found here).  If you don’t follow Fred, you should.

AVC

Leading vs Following

By Fred Wilson

Hunter Walk has a good post up on the coming competition among angels with syndicates to get into deals. Hunter observes:

My guess is there are also some angels who were popular when they represented a $25k check but won’t be as sought after if they try to push $300k into a round.

What Hunter is getting at is the difference between leading and following. A lead investor sets the price and terms of the investment, takes a large part of the round, and usually agrees to represent the entire round on the board. Then everyone else gets to pile in behind them and piggyback on all of that work. And the entrepreneur and lead investor allow the followers to do that because either they are likely to help the company in some way or because the company needs more capital than the lead is prepared to invest at this time.

USV is a lead investor. Benchmark is a lead investor. Gotham Gal is a lead investor. I suspect Hunter’s Homebrew is a lead investor.

Angel List Syndicates are turning angels who have traditionally been followers into leads. That’s a good thing in many ways. The more folks who can lead a round, the better, at least for the entrepreneurs. But, as Hunter points out, it will mean that less of these angels will get into rounds than before because they will all be showing up with a lot more money than before.

It also means that they will have to learn to lead and lead well. They will have to step up before anyone else does. They will have to negotiate price and terms. They will have to sit on boards. They will have to help get the next round done. Essentially they will have to work. That’s why they are getting carry from the syndicate, after all.

And over time we will get to see who is actually good at this and who is not. And I can tell you this. Not everyone is good at this. In fact, very few are. It’s hard to be a great lead investor and a completely different thing than being a well sought after angel investor who can get into someone else’s deals. Some will turn out to be great at this. Many won’t. And only time will tell who is and who isn’t.

Original article posted by Fred Wilson in AVC on September 29, 2013.

Comments, questions or reactions to this post? Leave a note below and I will respond to your questions.

If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy: Chris Dixon: Some thoughts on startup crowdfundingFunding Startups (Video)Swimming Against the Tide (Angel Investing)Nailing The One Minute PitchStart-Up Marketing SeriesCustomer Crowdfunding: Not So Fast Entrepreneurs (Again!)Constructing a PitchPick Your Angel Investors Wisely (David Hornik)Why Angels Chase ElectronsBoards vs. Advisory BoardsInterview: State of the VC & Angel Market and How to Raise MoneyDelusional EconomicsThat Vision ThingThe Power of An Advisory BoardLoch Ness, Unicorns & The First-Mover AdvantageDoes This Slide Deck Make Me Look Fat?,  The Long Road to Instant SuccessTop Angel Investors in New EnglandLaunchpad Overview – Angel Video Interview SeriesCustomer Crowdfunding: Not So Fast, EntrepreneursAngel Video Interview Series,  Thoughts on CrowdfundingThe Crowdfunding Interview (Frank Peters Show), Getting Off The Ground; Early Formation EconomicsPitch Clinic at MassChallenge (Video)Top 20 Dos & Don’ts with Angel Groups & Early Stage FinancingWhat I Look For In An EntrepreneurThe OvertureOpen Forum with Angel, Seed and VC Investors (Video)20 Bootstrapping Ideas.
Subscribe – To get an automatic feed of all future posts subscribe to the RSS feed here, or to receive them via email enter your address in the box in the upper right or go here and enter your email address in the box in the upper right. You can also follow me on Twitter @cmirabile and on Google+.

Funding Startups (Panel Video)

TCN LogoA few days ago I did a panel for The Capital Network called Just About Everything You Need to Know about Funding Your Startup: The Accelerated Version. That title’s an exaggeration, but, still, it was a good discussion.  Kent Bennett from Bessemer Venture Partners and Ben Sprecher now from Google were my fellow panelists. William Perkins from Bingham moderated. You can watch it below. [Email readers click here].


Comments, questions or reactions to this post? Leave a note below and I will respond to your questions.
If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy: Swimming Against the Tide (Angel Investing)Nailing The One Minute PitchStart-Up Marketing SeriesCustomer Crowdfunding: Not So Fast Entrepreneurs (Again!)Constructing a PitchPick Your Angel Investors Wisely (David Hornik)Why Angels Chase ElectronsBoards vs. Advisory BoardsInterview: State of the VC & Angel Market and How to Raise Money, Delusional EconomicsThat Vision ThingThe Power of An Advisory BoardLoch Ness, Unicorns & The First-Mover AdvantageDoes This Slide Deck Make Me Look Fat?,  The Long Road to Instant SuccessTop Angel Investors in New EnglandLaunchpad Overview – Angel Video Interview SeriesCustomer Crowdfunding: Not So Fast, EntrepreneursAngel Video Interview Series,  Thoughts on CrowdfundingThe Crowdfunding Interview (Frank Peters Show), Getting Off The Ground; Early Formation EconomicsPitch Clinic at MassChallenge (Video)Top 20 Dos & Don’ts with Angel Groups & Early Stage FinancingWhat I Look For In An EntrepreneurThe OvertureOpen Forum with Angel, Seed and VC Investors (Video)20 Bootstrapping Ideas
Subscribe – To get an automatic feed of all future posts subscribe to the RSS feed here, or to receive them via email enter your address in the box in the upper right or go here and enter your email address in the box in the upper right. You can also follow me on Twitter @cmirabile and on Google+.

 

 

SEC Rules Threaten The Formation of Early Stage Capital

SEC SealThe Securities and Exchange Commission issued final Rule 506 permitting startups to use general solicitation when raising funds from accredited investors. As required under the JOBS Act, issuers under 506(c) must “take reasonable steps to verify” that all purchasers are accredited investors. The rule is effective as of September 23, 2013.

The SEC did not define “reasonable steps to verify,” stating instead that [Read more…]

The Why and How of Updating Your Angel Investors (Guest Post)

Ty Danco and Dharmesh Shah recently published an excellent guide for entrepreneurs on communicating with investors.  They have given me their permission to share it here.

The Why and How of Updating Your Angel Investors

Good or bad news.There’s a massive amount available on the interwebs on how to improve the odds for success in new ventures. But almost nothing concrete is available on the care and feeding of your investors. You can do all of the Lean Startup experimentation you want, but we’re here to tell you that one of the the easiest and most underrated skills that a startup CEO needs is knowing how to keep your investors updated, excited and engaged.

The reason is:  The CEO is the investor’s  user interface into the business.  It’s how investors see what’s going on, and in some minimal ways, interact with the business.

We polled several early stage investors (including ourselves) that have 30+ investments each under their belts, and asked them their advice for entrepreneurs on how best to communicate with them and update them on the business. Here are the results. [Read more…]

Swimming Against the Tide (Angel Investing)

Swimming Against The Tide

So the other day I’m chatting with a new angel about a very large round that had lots of momentum – it had been expanded and was still over-subscribed. Classic case, driven by the usual factors: little bit later stage with some traction, so risk is perceived as lower, great pitch by an appealing CEO, backed by a seemingly good team, momentum in the round building quickly, a product people can understand that is already built and in the stream of commerce, and, perhaps most importantly, a perception of scarcity as the round filled up.

That scarcity factor always gets people’s juices flowing. Whether you call it the bandwagon effect or not, people get themselves into a twist about it. And I would generally agree that it can be a problem. But for a different set of reasons. It’s the flip side of the coin I see as the real problem. [Read more…]

Congratulations, Crocodoc

Crocodoc

Congratulations to Ryan Damico and the team at Crocodoc for their successful exit today to Box.com.  I invested in Crocodoc in 2009 when Ryan was a brand new entrepreneur and the company was called WebNotes. I liked Ryan and I liked the early vision. What grew out of those early roots was even more impressive. Ryan and his team went on to build a very capable enterprise class tool to display virtually any document right in the browser, via HTML5. This capability has proven absolutely essential to a variety of large customers including SAP, LinkedIn, Yammer, Facebook, and of course Dropbox and Box.com. Not entirely clear what Dropbox is going to do once this technology is in the hands of their arch-rival Box.com. That should be interesting to watch. Meanwhile, read more about the deal via WSJ here, TechCrunch here., GigaOm here, The Next Web here, VentureBeat here, and ZDNet here.

Comments, questions or reactions to this post? Leave a note below and I will respond to your questions.
If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy: The Long Road to Instant Success (Crocodoc)
Subscribe – To get an automatic feed of all future posts subscribe to the RSS feed here, or to receive them via email enter your address in the box in the upper right or go here and enter your email address in the box in the upper right. You can also follow me on Twitter @cmirabile and on Google+.

John Huston – Angel Video Interview Series

Facetime Logo

[This post is part of an on-going series of video interviews with members of the start-up community – see a list of links to the full series here.]

John Huston is an institution in the angel investing world. He is a self-described former banker who flunked retirement and set out to find an angel group to join. Finding none, he went on to found Ohio Techangels, which has grown to become the largest angel group in North America. It has an interesting structure whereby each member contributes just $25K to a fund of 100 people and the State of Ohio matches that $2.5M with $2.5M of its own (read that and weep, residents of other states…) Members are free to invest additional dollars alongside the fund, and in fact that is where most of the capital in any given investment comes from.

In total, between the funds and the members’ side investments, the Ohio Techangels has put over $20 million into 36 Ohio-based companies. Four of the companies have exited to large publicly traded companies, yielding what the fund claimes is a 58 percent average return for investors. And as is expected with early stage investing, seven other exits were failures.

John is widely quoted and hailed as a driving force for economic development. He speaks frequently and eloquently on the topic of investors serving as directors of early-stage companies, and he is a charming rascal livening up any Angel Capital Association event. We talked in April 2013 in San Francisco. Here’s what he had to say. (Email subscribers, click here for the video).

Comments, questions or reactions to this post? Leave a note below and I will respond to your questions.

If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy: Angel Video Interview SeriesThe Long Road to Instant SuccessThoughts on Crowdfunding,  The Crowdfunding Interview (Frank Peters Show), Pattern Matching Can Cause BlindspotsGetting Off The Ground; Early Formation EconomicsPitch Clinic at MassChallenge (Video)Why Angels Chase ElectronsBoards vs. Advisory BoardsDelusional EconomicsTen Rules For Navigating in The Age of OutrageThat Vision ThingThe Power of An Advisory BoardLoch Ness, Unicorns & The First-Mover AdvantageAre Entrepreneurs Wild Risk-Takers?Top 20 Dos & Don’ts with Angel Groups & Early Stage FinancingWhat I Look For In An EntrepreneurThe OvertureDo The Right ThingOpen Forum with Angel, Seed and VC Investors (Video)Should I Wait For A Technical Co-Founder?, and 20 Bootstrapping Ideas.
Subscribe – To get an automatic feed of all future posts subscribe to the RSS feed here, or to receive them via email enter your address in the box in the upper right or go here and enter your email address in the box in the upper right. You can also follow me on Twitter @cmirabile and on Google+.