A lot has changed since I raised money for my prior company Consorte Media in 2005. The VC partners are younger, the angels more plentiful. But the pitfalls entrepreneurs looking to raise money encounter have not gone away.
Today some "angels" pose a risk that was for a time left only to the big guys: wasting an entrepreneur's time. I put "angels" in quotes because I'm not talking about a Dave McClure or Andreessen Horowitz, but the sudden plethora of individuals who say they are "angel investing." They're usually the folks at cocktail partners who will share without prompting that they are "angels."
It's incredibly easy to tell people you are "angel investing" and for that reason alone get meetings from unsuspecting entrepreneurs. Little do first timers know that these "angels" have absolutely no ammunition to actually invest, will not invest unless the company already has a hot institutional investor, or will never invest, but want to see the trends or network. These "angels" may not mean to be devils in disguise, but they are.
Forewarned, entrepreneurs can spot these "angels" pretty quickly. Here's how:
1. Ask the "angel" exactly how much money they typically put to work, how often and the average time from first meeting to funding
2. Ask the "angel" to provide you with the names of portfolio companies she has funded already; if you're going to be the first, it's very unlikely you are going to get funding
3. Ask the "angel" upfront if they lead investments or normally act as follow on investors
The questions may seem obvious, but it's amazing what the word "angel" can do to an entrepreneur trying to pay her bills. Entrepreneurs would be wise to refrain from scheduling a meeting until they have this information. By focusing their efforts where their chances are greatest and clearest, entrepreneurs will find their time is well spent.
You can find the less than angelic Alicia at www.aliciamorga.com.