10 nights to explore San Francisco start-up culture wasn't much. With so many events on I had too choose carefully.
The Georgetown Angels pitching event, looked exciting but at $75 a ticket it was out of my budget. In the spirit of enterprise I emailed to ask for a complimentary ticket.
Incredibly the event organiser background checked me by emailing a prominent Scottish angel investor that he knew! Luckily I got given a positive recommendation and was allowed into this exclusive event. (incredible to think how small the world is and how important your reputation is!)
The event was held at RocketSpace an energetic central accelerator program for tech startups, they have companies from all over the world with world class events being held every week. Also a big thank you to TriNet and Orrick who sponsored the event.
A panel of four incredibly sharp Venture Capitalists started the evening discussing the basics of VC investing:
Mohanjit Jolly, Partner and Managing director, DFJ
David Blumberg, Managing Partner, Blumberg Capital
Jamie McGurk, Partner, Andreessen Horowitz
Summarising their conversation isn't easy but some interesting sound bites were:
- "hit my bucket" = Know what type of companies I want in my portfolio & understand how I can help you.
- "capital efficient deals" = If it isn't software, forget it.
- "addressable market" = Know the total market size, and addressable market size (what you can target) if it's under $10billion addressable market, then it's not big enough to invest in.
- "CEO referees" = the best intro to a VC comes from the CEO of a company they have previously funded.
This discussion was followed up by pitches from 5 companies.
1) NephoScale (http://www.nephoscale.com/) end-to-end cloud computing infrastructure. "bootstrapped" by a $3m investment from the founder they compete with amazon and are B2B focused. I didn't understand their business.
2) Wire Lawyer (http://www.wirelawyer.com/) an online platform built by lawyers for lawyers. The energetic team could maybe make this work but the word "platform" gives me train reck chills.
3) CrowdHall (http://crowdhall.com/) a bi-directional public discourse for high-profile people & organisations. These guys rocked (literally, one of the founders was a drummer.) Punchy pitch, good traction, worth a punt if I had the money.
4) One Page (http://www.1-page.com/) an application service that screens potential employees with certain questions before they can send in a CV. It was pitched by an energetic team with an incredible track record for success. With clients like Pepsi Co., Disney, Avon, McDonalds, & Hershey already signed up they raised over half a million dollars after their pitch!
5) Ekata Systems (http://www.tapestry-app.com/) a "Dynamic Peer-to-Peer" (DP2P) platform. I have no idea what they do, but some people must because they have raised funding!
Georgetown Angels has a really smart investment model. To start with they only invest in companies that they can add value to, be it experience or connections that money just can't buy. It's one of the huge strengths that their wide angel network brings. They requests a minimum angel investment per angel investor of $25K for one company with the option to allocate monies to two companies with a $30K investment ($15K each) or $50k per angel if you want to invest in all five companies ($10k per company). If you are interested in the businesses contact Georgetown Angels directly - firstname.lastname@example.org
Since all companies have been carefully selected and screened prior to the pitching, it seems like a smart model of semi pro/hobby investing; backing five "horses" with the hope that a couple will be winners!