Sunday, May 15, 2016

Seattle Angel Conference IX Recap by Drew Meyers

Yesterday marked the 9th Seattle Angel Conference. I spent the day at Impact HUB, watching the pitches and mingling in the crowd. This is the second SAC I've volunteered at, and I noticed an increase in attendance from November's event.
The day started off with several alumni updates previous events, a few open remarks by John Sechrest, and then Bob Crimmins laid out the agenda for the rest of the day.
Wade Brooks, executive director of Angel Resource Institute, spoke about tracking angel
returns. He had a data set of 136 complete investments, and shared some findings from the HALO reports (released quarterly). Average deal size was $915,000, while the median was $505,000. 70% of outcomes in the Halo dataset are failures. For experienced angels, it's no surprise 10% of your companies provide all your returns. To summarize, as an angel investor, all your early indicators are going to be bad. You need to be in a lot of deals, with the hope of being in a big winner, if you ever want to see great returns.
There were 6 fantastic pitches (from the 60+ original applicants):
Brian Bosche from Slope. The technology backbone to allow companies to scale their content production. Businesses spent $160 billion per year on content last year, and their target market is $232 million in the United States alone. Jigar Mody was the lead on due diligence.
Vishal Joshi from Joy Life. Joy is an all in one wedding experience. Shared gifts. Brings strangers, friends, family & vendors closer together. They are already seeing use among 800 couples across 75 countries. Sanjay Bhatia led due diligence.
Erik Klavins from Aquarium. An operating system for life sciences allowing precise experimental results, which can be transferred and reproduced between labs. The more I think about this opportunity, the more excited I get about it. The prospect of a standard operating system for every lab in the world seems probable on a long time horizon. Geoff Harris led due diligence.
Ron Epperson from Crystal Clear Technologies. CCT removes and recovers heavy metals including arsenic, lead, mercury, copper, zinc, and others, as well as nonmetal selenium and radio nucleides, including uranium. Focused  on the 1200 US power plants facing compliance with EPA regulations. Mark Neuhausen led due diligence.
Allison Magyar from Hubb. Hubb is a software as a service model that automates the business process for collecting, managing and marketing the abstracts, speakers and sponsors for conferences and meetings. Guru Ranganathan led due diligence.
Evan Hiner from Prolera. Prolera makes it easy for professionals to manage, complete, and maximize the continuing professional education (CPE) they're required to complete to maintain their licenses. They started with accounting (under the name CPE Suite), but have re-branded to allow them to capture mindshare across more verticals. Richard von Hagel led due diligence.
Following the pitches, Jack Smith and Robi Ganguly did a fireside chat. Robi provided some great insights into early stage funding, the differences between Seattle and San Francisco in both entrepreneur and investors, and hiring. I was particularly impressed with his emphasis on people. I agree with him that, as a business, you must love your customers, and they must love you.
After much deliberation, Daniel Kao, SAC's fund manager, presented the winner. Hubb was awarded $155,000 in investment, and Crystal Clear Technologies was awarded $80,000 as the runner up.
All in all, it was a great day for the Seattle angel and startup communities building relationships and get exposed to great startups.
Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon. Global nomad originating in Seattle. Ex-Zillow community builder. Social Entrepreneur. Microfinance advocate. Travel addict. Find him on Twitter @drewmeyers.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Enterprise Event planning from Hubb and Clean Water from Crystal Clear Technologies

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Seattle Angel Conference IX Winner Hubb

Hubb Wins First Prize in Seattle Angel Conference IX Competition
Hubb was selected as the winner of the Seattle Angel Conference IX investment program, announced Thursday following the final round of presentations and judging.  Hubb will receive an investment of $155,000.
A second investment of $80,000 in Crystal Clear Technologies was also announced.
Hubb provides event planning software for the large Enterprise Event management process. With a strong workflow and collaborative support system, Hubb makes the process of managing 10,000 person events flow much more efficiently.
Crystal Clear Technologies provides a way for power plants to remove selenium from their waste water.  
The finale featured six companies that survived an American Idol style competition that began in February with 66 applicants.  Starting in mid-April, due diligence teams comprised of new and experience angel investors performed deep-dive reviews of the finalists to learn everything possible about the businesses. Each finalist presented to Seattle Angel and other attendees. The members of the LLC voted to determine the winner.
The other finalists in the running were Slope, Aquarium, Joy, and Prolaera.
To date, the Seattle Angel Conference has invested $1.8M in 19 startups and trained 190 first time angel investors.  Founder John Sechrest says there are still lots of qualified folks in King County who still don’t realize their opportunity to invest.  “The conference is helping to increase awareness and provide angel investors a unique chance to really understand which companies are ready for investments.  Every year the number and quality of companies vying to compete are getting stronger.”
The Seattle Angel Conference is a recurring Seattle Angel-driven event where the investors create an LLC, engage in due diligence of the applying startup companies, and ultimately pool funds to invest in one of the presenting finalists.
The application deadline for next round of Seattle Angel Conference X is on September 5th, 2016.
The next round of workshops will begin next week on May 17th. Workshops are listed on http://meetup.com/Seattle-Angel


Why you might buy a ticket now for November

We just had a great Seattle Angel Conference IX, and I am setting up the widgets and frameworks for the next conference in the Fall. We do the Angel Conference twice a year.

In the Seattle Area, we have a significant number of people who wait for the very last minute to get a ticket. (It is crazy-making for event planners). Each cycle, we need to gather at least 50 companies and hopefully 40 angel investors to engage in the 12 week process that we use.

Now the tickets are now on sale for the next Angel Conference in November. Why would you want to get a ticket so very far in advance?

We use the ticket as the indicator of interest. It is a form of commitment. By indicating your interest in process, we can start connecting people to resources and workshops. We can start making introductions between investors and companies. And we can start the process of building the relationships which make the whole process go smoother.

To participate as a presenting company, we look for you to have updated your gust.com profile and that you bought a ticket.  

If you know of a company within 4 hours of Seattle, which would benefit from a detailed review of their company and a chance to participate in the process, please suggest that the join the process and get a ticket.







Friday, May 6, 2016

From Sixty to one in 12 weeks


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Sixty amazing companies started the journey, a group of experienced and new angel investors picked six companies to perform diligence on. Come meet the six and discover which of these great companies the angel conference investors select for their investment.

Seattle Angel Conference IX

May 12th, 2016
12:30 PM - 6:30 PM

Impact Hub Seattle
220 Second Ave South
Seattle, WA
Program includes:
  • Keynote with Wade Brooks
  • Presentation by the six finalists
  • Presentation by the six investor diligence teams
  • Fireside chat hosted by Mike Grabham
                        
Slope is a cloud platform for collecting, storing, accessing, and collaborating on professional media content. By using this platform, businesses can save time and money through more efficient workflow on their marketing initiatives.

Crystal Clear Technologies removes and recovers heavy metals including arsenic, lead, mercury, copper, zinc, and others, as well as nonmetal selenium and radio nucleides, including uranium.  We are especially focused  on the 1200 US power plants facing compliance with EPA regulations.
                        
The Aquarium Operating System™ (Aquarium OS™), a comprehensive cloud-based laboratory operating system that is designed to enable biotechnology researchers to quickly and easily develop, execute, and share highly reproducible experimental workflows;
                       
Joy is a free, easy-to-use home for your wedding. Manage guests, RSVPs, and more—all in one place. And most importantly, capture the joy of your special day and showcase it for generations. It is an intelligent wedding assistant that leverages AI to guide the millennial couple & their guests through every step of the wedding journey and it bring family & friends closer together.
                        
Hubb is a Software as a Service platform that automates the business process for collecting, managing and marketing the abstracts, speakers and sponsors for conferences and meetings.
                       
CPEsuite is the first platform created specifically to streamline the end-to-end process of managing & completing Continuing Professional Education (CPE). Our product combines a compliance tracking tool for individuals & firms, a peer-to-peer course marketplace,
                        
Keynote with Wade Brooks, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurial Practice, Executive Director, Willamette Angel Investment Fund, and Executive Director, Angel Resource Institute.

Learn to become a better angel investor in this exclusive keynote.
                       
Fireside chat hosted by Mike Grabham, creator of the Package Guard, founder and host of the TV Show StartIT Seattle, and chapter director of the Seattle/Bellevue Startup Grind chapter. 


Mike will be speaking with Robi Ganguly from Apptentive. They provide for better feedback for your app. 



Learn what a successful entrepreneurial journey looks like in this candid conversation.
Register for the conference today


Then join us after the conference for the GeekWire Awards starting at 7 PM at EMP.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The American Idol type calendar for entreprenuers in SAC

We have passed the application deadline for Seattle Angel Conference and we have a number of companies that have applied.

How will things flow between now and the final event?

Last night, we had the first of the Investor Meetings. We will continue meeting every tuesday until the final date. Here is an overview of what the meetings will look like:


DateMeeting Agenda
2/23/2016SAC Introduction
3/1/2016Select 24 Quarter finalists companies to pitch
3/8/20163min pitches, 3 min Q&A (12 companies)
3/15/20163min pitches, 3 min Q&A (12 companies)
3/22/2016Select 12 Semi Finalists companies to pitch 10 minutes
3/29/201610 min pitches, 10 min Q&A (6 companies)
4/5/201610 min pitches, 10 min Q&A (6 companies)
4/12/2016Select 6 finalist companies
4/19/2016Due Diligence Week 1
4/26/2016Due Diligence Week 2
5/3/2016Due Diligence Week 3
5/10/2016Due Diligence Week 4
5/11/2016Social & Rehearsal for Conference
5/12/2016Seattle Angel Conference IX
 

If a company is selected for the Quarterfinals, they should be prepared to do a 3 minute pitch and a 3 minute Q/A

If a company is selected for the Semi-Finals, they should be prepared to do a 10 minute pitch and a 10 minute Q/A

Companies that are selected into the Finals should expect a call from the Due Diligence Lead on or near April 12th, arranging meetings. You should expect to spend a couple of hours each week from then until the event connecting with the due diligence team members.

Your goal as a company is to connect with the Angel Investors and to build relationships and get to know who might be a champion for you. 

On the final event, all of your co-founders are invited. Expect to get a access code to get tickets for your cofounder teammates. 

All of the companies, regardless if they progress into the QuarterFinals are able to arrange a feedback session with one of the Angel investors and get a review of all the commentary from the reviewers. 

Our goal is to help you move forward with your startup. Let us know how we can best help you do that. 


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Startup: Your goal is NOT to win the Seattle Angel Conference


At the Seattle Angel Conference we hope to bring together 40 companies and 40 new investors to a 12 week process of engagement. On May 18th the 6 finalists will present and the investment group will vote on a winner. That winner will be selected to receive around $200K in an Angel Investment. 

The overly logical entrepreneur can be lead to the following calculation: If I am one out of 40 companies, then my chances of winning are 1/40 or around 2%. Why should I engage, when I have a 2% chance of winning. 

However, Your goal as a startup should not be to win the Seattle Angel Conference. 

There are several benefits to the conference for your startup, regardless of how far you are able to get in the rounds. 

First, there is nothing like a deadline to force you to work on some of the pesky details about your startup. Updating your gust profile, fixing your current financial projections, and reviewing your company narrative all are things that take a backseat to the urgent startup tasks of engaging with customers and writing code. By having a deadline , you focus on making a step forward with your materials you need for raising funds. 

Secondly, every company that applies is able to get feedback. Close to a dozen Angel Investors will read the gust.com profile and provide feedback on what they read. The further your startup gets in the process, the more detailed the feedback will get. This is a good place to start polishing your Angel pitch and materials before you go to other Angel Groups. 

Thirdly, Angel Investing is a relationship based endeavor. There is an opportunity for every startup and their team to meet with dozens of Angel Investors, who are very interested in talking to you about your startup. Take the time before and after each of the workshops and pitching meetings to make connections with the investors in the room. 

Forth, Angel Investors really prefer to invest in companies where they can see several data points about the company. Mark Schuster wrote a good blog on this entitled "Invest in Lines not Dots"  http://www.bothsidesofthetable.com/2010/11/15/invest-in-lines-not-dots/

The multiple touch points made possible by the process, will give you a chance to demonstrate engagement, listening, learning and progress. This will help the Investors know more about how things work for you. 

Finally, when all the stars align and all the social process works well, the due diligence teams tend to fall in love with the company that they have been evaluating. They know more about that company than any of the others. When this works well, there may be a motion to create a second investment LLC and a new Fund will be raised on the spot. This is how while the Seattle Angel Conference has done eight rounds so far, it has invested in over 15 companies. 

So understand what the goal of each meeting is and prioritize the opportunity to build connections and demonstrate progress. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Five kinds of Angel groups: From Networks to Active Angel Funds

Angel Investors gather together into groups as a way to create some specific benefits. By gathering together they are able to reduce the amount of work to create meaningful deal flow. They are able to reduce the overhead costs of managing a diversified portfolio. And perhaps more importantly, they are able to reduce the amount of time and effort involved in making investments. 

The structure of the Angel group can change the process and cadence of a set of Angel Investments. There are several different forms of Angel Investment groups: 

Angel Network - Angel groups which bring together investors for pitches and company reviews , but which then let each investor decide if they want to be part of each deal separately. This is a Pitch then Invest format. More than 90% of the US Angel Groups are in the form of a network. 

Funds -  While all Angel Groups are seeing presentations and pitches of some kind, Funds take a commitment for investment ahead of time. Sometimes the checks are collected first and sometimes the funds has a commitment and then when funds are needed the group will place a capital call with the members. The key distinguishing feature between the types of funds below are Who makes the decision to invest and When they make the decision to invest. 

Passive Fund - The most common form of a fund, the passive fund has some mechanism for triggering an investment following some rule. In sidecar funds, If a specific number of Angels in an Angel Network decide to invest together on a company and a specific amount of money is investment by them, then the Sidecar fund will automatically match the investment in some way. The triggers can have many different forms. In all cases, the investor are passive in the selection of which companies to invest in. Essentially, the passive fund relies on some other group or agency to do the fundamental due diligence and investment selection. 

In Seattle, there are passive sidecar funds at Alliance of Angels, Element 8 and Keiretsu

Managed 
Fund - When you have specific partners who you want making the investment analysis and investment decision, a managed fund provides for General Partners who manage the decision process. The passive investors are limited partners providing funding, but not being part of the decision making process. This structure is essentially the same as a Micro Venture Capital Fund.  

In Seattle, Founders Coop  is structured as a MicoVC firm, with key people in the General Partner (GP) role with Angel investors as the Limited Partners (LP). In most Venture Capital funds, the majority of Limited Partners would be institutional funds instead of individual Angel Investors. 

Active Fund - In contrast, an Active Angel fund has a significant portion of the member investors actively involved in the screening, deal flow, due diligence and investment decision. Both a  financial contribution and a significant amount of time is required by the members of an Active Angel Group. 

The Seattle Angel Fund and the Oregon Angel Fund are examples of Active Angel Groups. Member participation is fundamental to the Angel Angel Group process. 

Event Fund - Most Angel groups meet on a monthly or quarterly basis, regularly looking at deal flow and doing evaluation of the companies that are available. The decision to invest is dependent on the deals that are seen and the results of the due diligence. In an Event Fund, the investment is taken up front before the companies are known. The date of when the investment will be decided is also defined up front before the companies are known. 

Based on the Angel Oregon event by OEN , the Seattle Angel Conference is one of 6 Angel conferences which have a structured many week process of evaluating a cohort of companies. This process has been described as the "American Idol" format for Angel Investing.  These events gather 40-50 applying companies who are evaluated by a group of 20-50 angel Investors, where all of the companies are reviewed, filtered through a series of Quarter Final, Semi Final and Finalist phases. In the end, there is an event, where all of the investors and all the finalist companies present and at the event the investor group selects which companies will get an investment. The whole group of investors votes together on which company they want to invest in. 

This is in contrast to "Pitch Events", where the decision of who gets an investment is either made individually, or by someone other than the investors. It is also contrasted for Pitch events which have no due diligence and evaluation of the company fundamentals. 

Summary -  The style of each of these groups impacts the experience of the investors and the companies in the process. Depending on the amount of engagement, the stage of investment and the types of investments you are interested in, you should select the type of group that matches your needs.