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How to Use Angel Investor Funding for Your Business

image for fizkes / Getty Images
fizkes / Getty Images
  • Angel investors place high value on the strength of a company's management team.
  • Educating investors about the product or service is key, especially for a tech startup.
  • Like all investors, angels want to see a clear path to return on investment.

Angel funding sounds like it was sent from heaven, but you don't need a miracle to find it. By thinking critically and using your network, you can find the right investors for your business venture.

Angel investors are individuals or groups who invest in early-stage or startup companies in exchange for equity ownership interest. Finding an angel investor is only half the battle, though. Once you connect, you'll have to successfully pitch your company to secure funding. 

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Angel investing is all about trust and relationships. It isn't impossible to build relationships over the internet, but it can be hard. To get the best angel funding for your business, you'll have to get out there and meet people. You can find angel investors at events, such as fundraisers and conventions. There are also online platforms to help you find the right people before you connect in person. You can also look for angel investment networks or groups. If you're pitching angel networks, your success rate will probably decrease, at least a little bit.

After you find your potential angel investors, set up a time to meet with them independently so they can listen to your pitch. Polish your business pitch before your meeting. Your pitch should be succinct, clear and memorable. Someone who doesn't know anything about you or your business should be able to learn everything they need to know just from that pitch.

Draw up a thorough business plan as well. If you nail your pitch, that's the next thing your potential investor will ask for before you get any angel funding.

If you're looking for an angel investor to fund your business, you may want to consider exactly what the investor is looking for to improve your chances of success. A survey by Propel(x), an online angel investment platform, revealed the top three reasons angel investors choose a specific business.

Exceptional management is vital for any business. Three-quarters of survey respondents said the management team of a startup was their biggest consideration for investing.

"Startups are not only about the technology or business idea but also very much about the people behind them," said Swati Chaturvedi, CEO and co-founder of Propel(x). "A compelling, experienced team that can sell the vision and the potential impact is key to success, and something savvy angels look at closely."

Some exceptional qualities to have as part of a management team are integrity, clarity of strategy and approach, professionalism, and determination, Chaturvedi said.

We all want to know where our money is going. Angel investors want to understand exactly what they are financing, especially for startups in the tech field. Since angel investors are investing their own money, building their trust and establishing a relationship with them are key to gaining their support. More than 50% of respondents claimed this as one of their top reasons for investing, and 94% find it helpful to have subject-matter experts explain the technologies within their company before investing. In fact, many choose not to invest in specific businesses due to their inability to grasp their technology.

"The easier we make it for angel investors to discover, evaluate, and participate in science and technology startups, the more we'll see money going into these worthy companies, and the benefits to humanity accrue," Chaturvedi said.

Naturally, angel investors look for opportunities that will benefit them as well. Before anyone gives you angel funding, they need to know your predictions for their return on investment, or how much money they stand to make in comparison to how much they'll risk on your business. Potential ROI was a top motivator for 49% of angels when making investment decisions.

While some investors are indeed looking for financial compensation, not all are primarily interested in the money. Some want a different kind of return: the ability to solve the world's biggest challenges through the businesses they fund. Nearly one-third of angels choose to invest in a company based on its connection to important social issues.

"Having an impact matters, especially when it comes to investing in things like curing diseases, feeding a growing global population, fueling the planet with clean energy and even taking us into space," said Lisheng Wang, Propel(x)'s co-founder and head of investor development, in a statement. "Science and technology startups especially should take note that when raising capital, they should emphasize the impact of their solution besides potential returns to investors. It's not only about the 'what;' it's also about the 'so what?'"

This survey was based on the responses of more than 200 active and aspiring angel investors.

Angel investors typically want to receive 20% to 25% of your profit. However, how much you pay your angel investors depends on your initial contract. Hammer out these details before they give you any money and have a lawyer draw up a contract, which will make your angel investors feel safer in their investment.

Unlike traditional venture capitalists, angel investors make their investment decisions quickly and rarely require a board seat as a condition of investment. They also usually invest smaller amounts of money than venture capitalists do. This makes them an attractive funding option for startups that don't need large investments and want to retain more control over their business.

Angel investors can make a lot of money if they know what they're doing. But angel investing can be risky, so it's easy to lose a substantial amount of money as well. If you want to become an angel investor yourself, do your homework on the company you want to invest in and sign a contract before you hand over any funds. Potential startups that are worth the risk have knowledgeable leadership and thorough business plans as well as convincing pitches. Vet the startup's leaders as thoroughly as you would for any other significant new relationship, and your investments can pay off big time.

Sammi Caramela contributed to the reporting and writing in this article. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

 

Rebecca Renner

Rebecca Renner is a freelance writer in Orlando, Florida. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Paris Review, The Washington Post and more.