Near-Perfect Summary of Angel Financings

May 7th, 2008

Todd Vernon is the CEO of Lijit and wrote a post this morning that covers all the bases in angel financings.

I won’t rehash the whole thing, but will comment on a couple of points.

Todd’s analysis of the different types of angel investors is very insightful.  In my ten years of experience advising startups, the family investor class is the most common type, but the companies that are unable to broaden their investor base beyond that seldom succeed in raising further money.

The analogy to burning cash is a good one, though I usually use winning the lottery to make the same point.  Startup entrepreneurs should be aware that at least on some level investment in a brand-new company offers about as much hope of return as lighting cash on fire, or spending $25,000 on lottery tickets.  No one makes that decision lightly.

I mostly agree with Todd about convertible note financings, with a couple of qualifiers.  First, no company should offer convertible notes if it doesn’t intend to convert them.  Todd seems to say that some people might undertake note financings intending to pay them off in cash rather than equity.  That is a terrible strategy and borders on abusive.

Second is that I have done successful note financings.  In almost every case the Note investor(s) are also participants in the equity round and are using the Notes as a genuine bridge so that the company can get some cash while completing the steps to a larger investment.  Notes usually come with warrants or other discounts from the equity round so there can be tension between the Note investors and the equity investors.  Having the same people on both sides of the deal helps immensely to smooth that out.

Good post Todd.  I am going to send a lot of clients to read your summary.

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