- Do you love the idea of startups?
- Do you want the Seattle Startup scene to thrive?
- Do you want to invest in early stage startups but don’t know how to get started?
I’m committed to helping make Seattle a world leader for creating new technology businesses. I’ve jumped in by doing my own angel investing, mentoring and advising, and of course working on my own startup. But as I’ve done this, I can see that Seattle has a real problem compared to, say, the Bay Area. The current crop of angel investors, while somewhat active, are super-conservative and insular.
Early stage startups looking for seed money (e.g. $100-200k) are having to seek out angels in other cities. They struggle here in Seattle to get seed funding, but find it much easier in the Bay, Boston, or New York.
This makes no sense to me given Seattle’s economic base. I believe there population of people in the Seattle area who could be involved is much, much larger than those currently engaged.
It was great to see 300-400 people at the Seattle TechStars Demo Day last week. But it really seems like those are the same people who have been involved for years and years. I personally can think of 30 or 40 people who I worked with at Microsoft who should have been there, but probably didn’t even know about it. They probably can’t even spell Angel.
How do we get more, new blood, involved? How do we make them aware of the opportunities and help them understand how to be effective?
One idea comes from Oregon. Down there there are several organizations that run these events called Angel Conferences that provide noob angel investors a way of putting their toes in the water. They are a low-cost, low-risk, entertaining way for potential angel investors to become highly involved.
The format of these Angel Conferences was pioneered by the Oregon Entrepreneur Network (OEN) and has grown to include five Angel Conferences:
- Angel Oregon (Portland)
- Bend Venture Conference
- Willamette Angel Conference
- Gorge Angel Conference
- Medford Angel Conference
While I’ve never been to one of these, my understanding is the basic model is:
- A date is set for the conference about 6 months out.
- 50-100 early stage startups are recruited to participate
- 40 investors sign up committing $5000 each plus a ~$200 administration fee.
- Over about 4 months, the 50-100 startups are advised, mentored, and vetted winnowing the number down to 8 or 10 who will speed demo at the conference.
- During that same time period seminars and events are held where both investors and the entrepreneurs get training and coaching on deal flow and other startup topics critical to success.
- One startup is voted on to win it all ($200k). Its an “American Idol” like completion.
I love the idea of this format and would love to see the happen in the Seattle area.
What about you?
- Do you have the means to be an angel investor (you have $5K to $250K you are willing to put in risky early stage investments per year)?
- Do you have a passion for new businesses, technology, and innovation?
- Do you want to see the Seattle startup community thrive?
If so, go to www.seattleangelconference.com and fill out the survey. Or add a comment below with your thoughts.
Please forward this on to others you know who might be interested as well!