I occasionally invest in early-stage technology companies.
If you’re interested in raising money from me, please fill out this link: fundraising questions.
I typically invest $25k-100k. Smaller than that typically doesn’t make sense.
Great, I’m an investor in your company!
One of the things I’ve come to realize is often founders don’t know how to best use their angel investors.
Angel investors are different from funds for a couple of reasons - they are more likely to be operators and more likely to be investing out of a desire to help rather than pure economics. I certainly fall into that category. The likelihood that your investment will change my life is virtually zero, even if you become the next Google. Well, maybe if you become the next Google it will change my life but you get the point.
When can I help?
1. When things are going really, really bad. It might not seem like it right now but things will go unexpectedly in building a company and that’s where I can help. This can be something like you don’t think the company is going to work and should you pivot to a cofounder break up (or a breakup in your personal life impacting your company).
The reason that has worked for founders in the past is I am very confidential (professional VC are almost by design the opposite because they succeed by passing information to their partners or their network). While I’m on this topic, remember every time you talk to an investor, they are judging you. Every time. Even if they bump into you in a hotel lobby in Vegas. It’s their job. They are making multi million dollar decisions on very limited information.
2. When you’re fundraising. Having been a VC (and MBA) and founder (and engineer), I have a broad base of personal experiences to rely on. I am also an LP in over 15 funds so I also understand what motivates GPs slightly more than the average angel. Founders I’ve funded would say direct feedback on engaging with institutional investors have been some of the most helpful inputs I give (from valuation setting, negotiations, to allocation strategy).
3. Company operations. At Applied we’ve learned a lot of things getting the business to scale profitably. Near top of that list is performance management, release planning, customer support and culture building. Most specifically, answering the questions on how culture is built into the proverbial house like plumbing rather than an afterthought once the house is already up with people living in it.
4. Product Management & Go To Market functions. I worked as a product manager at Google and this taught me a lot. Lots of founders say they do product but having experience in a company that has made it a job function where you get trained and you execute with dozens or hundreds of other PMs is way different (i.e. be skeptical of product people who haven’t actually learned product from an institution AND shipped). It’s not that if you’re not a Google PM, you don’t know product, it’s just that many people who don’t actually have any discernible skills call themselves product people. You don’t want to find this out after you take their advice and find out it was wrong.
On Go-to-market, my experience comes from Applied and 1000s of companies I worked with at Y Combinator. The former is much more important but the latter offers diversity that is important to understand different types of GTM strategies that can be employed.
5. Compensation, hiring and firing. I deal with this all day, everyday and have gotten good at it. I typically know what is on the market. Be very very weary of VC compensation charts which tend to be heavily inflated.
6. M&A. I have sold a company to Google, bought companies at Google and at Applied (including buying a public company in a take-private). I have some sense of the best tactics here.
What is the best way to reach me?
This depends on urgency.
P0: It’s in number 1 above - just text me and say as much. If you don’t have my phone number, email me.
P1: I can talk most days at 10pm and almost all weekends at 10am. This would be like you’re going to launch something and want to go through your plan or comp package for a CMO.
P2: Message my EA Jan: firstname.lastname@example.org and put me on CC. This would be like you have something you’re wrestling with like one of your execs isn’t performing. We can usually calendar in ~2 weeks.
Do I want updates?
No, not really. Keep me on your listservs but fair to assume I’m not doing anything but a skim.
You reach out to me when you need help. That can be at whatever frequency that makes sense to you. Don’t be shy just because we haven’t messaged in a month or a year.
Paperwork & Stuff:
Martin Kim at Kranz helps me. His email is email@example.com. He can do everything from signature blocks, getting docs done to wiring money.
Do you want me to introduce you to friends who are starting companies?
Yes, absolutely. That’s the main way I invest.
“The single best angel investor I’ve ever worked with. What else do you want me to say?” -Tanay.
“I hate that I used to advise him and now he advises me. Something is seriously wrong with that.” -Immad.
“Did you notice all your testimonials are from brown dudes? Get some diversity in here bro!” -Another brown dude