Monday, April 24, 2017

SAC XI Finalists Selected

The eleventh Seattle Angel Conference is coming up on the final event on May 17th.
After reading through dozens of company profiles, Seeing 3 minute Quarter finalist pitches, 10 minute Semi-finalist pitches , the investor participants have selected the Finalists for SAC XI.
We have 6 finalists from a wide range of industry segments.

The investors have now divided up into due diligence teams are are exploring the fundamentals of each of the companies.

On May 17th we will hear a final round of pitches and then the Investors will select a winning company for investment.  This final event is open to the public, so that we can help people see how Angel Investing works as a process. It gives insight into the issues that are of concern to the investors and some experience seeing the types of companies that were able to be selected out for the finals.

Seattle Angel Conference XI Finalists:
MetaArcade: a developer dedicated to empowering communities of creators through accessible self-publishing platforms

SafKan Ear Care: industry’s first automated and wearable cerumen removal device for clinical ear care

Cross Connection Control: cloud-based solution to more effectively manage water back-flow testing launched the first transcript-enabled Podcast platform

Strive Tech Inc:  connecting coaches, sports players and data through integrated on and off-field performance and wellness monitoring

BridgeCare Finance: delivering educational financing for quality childcare in support of growing families.

The selected finalists are undergoing due diligence process as they compete for the $145,000 investment grand investment.  Winners will be selected and announced at the May 17th event.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

What about Angel Conference Returns?

(or What kind of returns can I get from Angel Investing? )

When we talk to people about the Seattle Angel Conference, there is often a question about the previous returns that we are seeing from our efforts with our previous Angel Conferences.  This is actually a hard question to answer in a couple of ways.

The main hard part of the question, is that it makes assumptions about Angel investment that are not particularly helpful early on. There are features of Angel Investing that make it different than your regular old stock market investing that people who ask this question are trying to compare against.

Angel Investing:
  1. Takes a long time to see results
  2. Is not liquid, so you can't get in and out of it easily
  3. Has a weird return profile
  4. Depends a great deal on factors that are hard to measure
  5. Depends on factors that are hard to control

Rob Wiltbank and Wade Brooks at Willamette University have been studying Angel Investing and have collection some of the best data available. If you look at their data,
you can get a more comprehensive set of data about general angel investing.

Out of that we learn that exits tend to take some time. Sometimes a long time.
The typical expectation is that the Angel Investments make it to exit in 7-9 years. If you factor in that the ones that fail, tend to fail early, then the ones that win will tend to be later... even later than 7-9 years.

So given that the Seattle Angel Conference is 5 years old. We would expect a few failures and no wins.... And that is where we are at….

We have a list of companies and regularly track their progress. Over the last 10 cycles (5 years)
We have about 21 investments, depending where you draw the circle. We have depolyed about $2M.  And we have educated more than 200 Angel Investors.

Out of those efforts, we see:
No positive exits.
2 deaths.
9 have follow on funding of some kind.

In general, we can conclude about Angel investing that:

Angel Investing is risky.
The investment is illiquid.
It will take a decade to win, if it wins.
Out of every 10, you will see 9 not give enough money back.
You need to be in 20 deals to have a good chance of winning.
This assumes you do good due diligence, remove the bad ones
and only start with very very very good companies at the beginning.

However, more importantly, the Seattle Angel Conference is not about returns. It is about learning. While it can be risky if done wrong, Angel Investing overall seems to produce some interesting returns , as we see in the Wiltbank data. What are the habits and behaviors that make it more likely that you will achieve those types of returns?

We believe that Angel Investing process can produce good returns if you engage it well. You can explore the Halo Report from the Angel Resource Institute and see that overall Angel annualized returns look like 25% / year. But these returns are not evenly distributed at all.  More than 60% of the companies loose some or all of the money invested. Close to 30% provide some returns, but not a lot. So this is not a normally distributed return profile.

More importantly for the Angel Conference model, the process is a bit overly structured to make it possible to create more learning about the process of investing. So those companies that are exceptional, have previous experience, know the network of investors and have great momentum…. They are already connected to people and are quick to get funding. So the angel conference never will be about optimizing the returns. Instead, it is a very low cost, simple way to get a deep look into the process and to learn about the issues that make Angel Investing interesting. And to see first hand some of the issues that are hard to deal with and deserve significant consideration before proceeding on a deal.

For New investors, who have never  been inside an Angel Investment, it is a great way to gain perspective about the market, the structure of companies, and to build relationships in the market. It is the expectation that alumni investors of the Seattle Angel Conference will learn a great deal about their investment thesis and where they want to engage. And then will move on to the other Angel groups that match their goals.  

If an early focus on returns is the highest priority for the investor, then it is likely that the risk profile is one of low risk and this may not be appropriate to engage in the process of Angel Investing.

To repeat a bit:

Angel investing is risky - Learn where things work and where they don’t

If you have a low risk profile it will be frustrating.

Returns take a long time.

The return distribution is not normal. It is specifically highly skewed.

The conference is not built to provide excellent returns, it's built for education. If you learn (hence the conference) and build a portfolio, returns can be pretty good.

There are other Angel Organizations in Seattle that have a much stronger focus on building an opportunity for good returns:

Seattle Angel Fund -
Alliance of Angels -

There is some data about how they are performing here: (2015)

Every April, the MIT Forum has been doing a “Meet the Angels” workshop, where folks talk about how Angel Investing works


Angel Resource Institute - Halo Report -

Friday, November 18, 2016

Startup Invio Wins $170,000 Grand Prize at Seattle Angel Conference X

The Seattle Angel Conference (SAC), an investor-led startup competition connecting entrepreneurs and new angel investors, has awarded Seattle startup Invio a $170,000 investment grand prize.
Seattle (WA) -  The Seattle Angel Conference (SAC), an investor-led startup competition connecting entrepreneurs and new angel investors, announced today that Invio is the winner of the conference’s $170,000 investment grand prize.  Invio, Inc. was one of six finalist companies competing during the November 17, 2016, Seattle Angel Conference X. Invio has developed automation software to improve data quality for clinical trials while simultaneously driving down clinical operations costs, a $21 billion cost to industry today. “Our mission is to make more medical innovations feasible,” said Cassie Wallender, Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder. “This is achieved by leveraging the efficiencies of computer vision and machine learning.”
The finalists completed an exhaustive diligence process lasting several months, and the conference gave them a final opportunity to compete for the grand prize before an audience of investors and tech leaders.
Invio secured the $170,000 investment grand prize as the result of a group due diligence process over a 12-week period.
Invio team from L to R: Cassie Wallender, Dema Poppa, Saqib Rokadia, Brian Caruso.
“Seattle has emerged as a national force for innovation and entrepreneurial excellence,” said John Sechrest, Seattle Angel Conference founder.  “Seattle Angel Conference’s mission is to drive even greater growth and success in the startup community through a program of creating new Angel Investors by doing a slow-motion Angel Investment.”
Since 2012, the conference has trained over 200 first time angel investors, attracted over 650 companies and invested over two million dollars in 21 of the participating companies.
The Seattle Angel Conference winner and finalists are:
Invio, Inc.:  Its mission is eliminating clinical trial inefficiencies to propel medical innovations.

Articentral:  Helping small businesses list their handmade products on Etsy and Amazon Handmade with one click; Multriply: Enabling the tourist travel industry to reserve and organize tours and events; Prolaera: Continuing professional education for the 21st century; Sprawly: Enables anyone to build interactive 360 choose-your-own-adventure style content with zero technical knowledge needed, and WeedTraQR: Marijuana traceability seed to sale from smartphone.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Thank you Seattle Angel Conference

SAC Competition
by Zach (Originally published at
Being part of a startup can be a wild ride. Sometimes it’s fun, sometimes things are hectic. No matter what though, you’re always part of an adventure, striving to make a difference in the way that things are done. Unfortunately, the little guy doesn’t always win, which is why support is such a critical element of startup success.
In 2014, received the support of the Seattle Angel Conference during their fifth investment competition, held in Seattle, WA. After a rigorous competition between 40 Washington-based companies, came out on top, receiving a $155,000 angel award investment from the Seattle Angel Conference V LLC. As a young startup, this investment was hugely instrumental to the development of the company. Since then, has grown significantly: hiring 30 people to the team globally, expanding our offering in 33 countries, growing at 30% month over month revenue wise, and have recently raised close to another $1 million in funding.
While our growth has brought to new heights, we have not forgotten those who believed in our mission from the early days. We are grateful for SAC’s support and trust throughout this tremendous journey.
We can’t wait to learn all about Washington’s newest and brightest ideas at SAC X, which is coming up shortly on November 17. Having been on the receiving end of the support of SAC, we know how impactful it can be. We wish all of the candidates the best of luck.
Check out our fundraising blog post to learn more about our latest round of investment. Schedule a demo to learn more about how is disrupting traditional market research and how can help your organization can maximize its capacity for consumer insights while minimizing time and cost.

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

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

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 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.