Friday, December 4, 2015

What We Learned From Angel Week

The 2 Themes that Emerged from the Weeklong Conference: Angel Protection and Useful Technology
Angel Investing was never easy but you can win. You could be smart and lucky - or you could find a resource that was underused. You could also be useful – and increasingly, Investors are seeking that out.
Keynoter Kevin Harrington, one of the original sharks on Shark Tank, who opened up on the Gathering Angels day, talked about the Infomercial and how he came to invent it. It is a reminder to us all about how to discover value. He saw test stripes on the cable channel screens after prime time programming. That gave him an idea about a cheap, underutilized resource. But it was when he stumbled upon a great pitchman with a new kind of knife - the Ginzu knife – and a circuit of pitchmen just like him, that he saw the potential for a new world of selling. And so the infomercial was born.
How many Investors are on the look out for that type of combination? Kevin believes he sees that again on your cell phone and so he is introducing Starshop – a celebrity based sales channel on your mobile.
Brian Cohen, Chairman of the New York Angels, discovered Pinterest by dint of smarts and luck, and yet his keynote was all about caution in Angel Investing. There are only a few good deals and many, many more that could go astray.
While Angel Investing goes on and innovation continues, Brian talked about how few Angel Investors profit from their risk. There was even a hint of push back by Angels. It is hard to imagine a million Angel march or even the unionization of Investors, but there clearly was a sense that they need to organize in some way to reduce risks and minimize dilution. That is part of the mission of a Gathering of Angels at Angel Week!
In our award to the Angel of the Year, Bernard Rudnick of MidAtlantic BioAngels, who not only profited for his group by over 5x but also instituted a startup dividend pool forcing a payout back into the Investors.
In my opening, I celebrated Angels by remarking that it is not government that drives innovation but the hopeful entrepreneurs and the Investors willing to back them.
That became one of the themes of the day – the kinds of investments being made which were a renewed interest in infrastructure innovation and confronting real problems solvable by technology and other innovations.
Now that the never-ending search for a paradigm shift is focusing on real world and infrastructure problems, we are working on a kind of X-Prize for Startups that solve problems that matter. Stay tuned.
We thank all of you who helped make Angel Week a success:
Private Equity Forum (Innovation and Investment)
IEEE and IoT Central
We expect to be back with an even bigger and better Angel Week in Q2!

Have a Happy Holidays.

Intro & Keynote: