Testing & Validating Open Angel Models
Hi Bonnie — thanks for the kind words. Small in quantity, High in Quality has definitely always been the goal. Or put more simply, curation.
To answer your question, we tested those ideas in the format of the investment dinner series, and didn’t see much changes.
As we ran events, we came to see investors as our customers. After year 1, we charged membership fees to investors, and increased those fees in subsequent years. We conducted interviews with members and did some yearly surveys on member investments and feedback.
“We” are looking for other people to test/validate further ideas. So we are open to other suggestions on what path Open Angel should follow.
At our year end 2017 board meeting, we kicked around a number of refresh ideas for 2018. One of the hypotheses was that the core mission — “Connecting founders & funders” — had absolutely been met. The social connections of investors and different sets of founders was/is valuable.
We brainstormed a bit what it might look like on getting leads/syndicates to attend, to have larger events — potentially with no investment presentations, but rather investing/company building topics. What would 100 person events look like? What follow up could be done? How would we measure success? (we really hate “bums in seats” as a metric)
We also looked at potentially doing more with mentorship and facilitation, as we saw no correlation between companies attending any of the local incubator programs and being investable / successful. But even doing “mentorship light” is a ton of work as a volunteer organization.
We have also in the past kick around various side car funds or pre-committed funds as an option to solve the lack of leads problem: having the first cheque already be in place for, say, half the companies that presented. Probably something that would work, but better run by a for-profit entity.
Personally, I (Boris) felt that new investors was a thing we could do more of. What does it mean to have “young” investors? Could there be a format where founders invest in each others’ companies, to teach angel investing early?
I have some other thoughts that indicate that the model of the last 15 years of early-stage angel investing in tech companies may be at an end, but that’s a whole other post. If we focused on IndieVC-style convertible loans, this might be a much better path to “some” companies becoming venture sized, but many more becoming sustainable businesses. And solve the number one issue for many angels — liquidity and capital available for investing.