As someone who has attended my fair share of these angel events with clients, for our own companies and as guests, here are some of the lessons learned and some thoughts about these events.
Paying to Present
I am typically not a fan of paying to access the organizer’s network without getting much other benefit. I understand these organizers have bills to pay, but I have not seen many deals getting done out of these groups which fit the profile of the companies with which we work.
If you think it may be worthwhile to pay for one of these meetings, make sure you do your due diligence. Get a sense of who the network actually is; don’t just take the organizer’s word for it – ask to attend a meeting as a guest. When you mingle, you’ll get a sense of the network’s composition. What is the mix between service providers (lawyers, accountants, bankers, consultants, etc.) versus bona fide investors? How many deals have been financed in what industries and what amounts?
Getting Ready for the Presentation
This advice is for any investor audience, not just angels.
- Know your audience – who will be there? This is where asking the organizer is key and potentially attending a meeting as a guest before you present.
- How much time do you have? A 10 minute slot is much different than 50 minute slot in terms of how to pace and what you need to get across.
- Know your environment – what size room, what type of technology – PC/Mac/projector (always bring a backup on a flash drive)
- Practice, practice, practice!
Chances are, not everyone in the audience will “get” your business and you will likely get criticisms. As an entrepreneur, you will need to develop thick skin and also tact to be able to deflect those criticisms gently without coming off too brutish. Learn to use address the issue briefly, but invite the individual to discuss it further with you in more detail.
Unlike a meeting with a venture firm or an investor where you will likely know their “sweet spot” for investing, angel gatherings will have a variety of experience, personalities, agendas, etc.
After the Meeting
Even if there aren’t term sheets coming forth the night of the angel meeting, go back to the organizer for feedback. Some of the comments may be valid, others may not, but use the feedback to improve the next presentation.