You’ve seen them on TV — those sharp-dressed, smooth-talking angel investors with big personalities and even bigger wallets. Sure, they’re charming and have the business chops to prove their success. But are the sharks and dragons of the world actually the right people to partner with in your next business venture?
Yes, due in part to the smash hits Shark Tank and Dragons’ Den, angel investors can be a consideration when startups and small businesses look for funding. In fact, the typical angel investment can provide $25,000 to $100,000 of funding — a significant stake in your business. Is that investment worth its value, and are there hidden costs or risks associated with this new business relationship?
There’s no doubt that many angel investors can bring incredible experience to the table. They know how to grow a company, have savvy business minds, never fear the unknown and have a wonderful ability to take on what others may see as a risk. Compound all those traits with their deep pockets and you’ve got a recipe for huge returns.
However, not all angels are watching out for your best interest. Keep your eyes peeled for these six types of angel investors that may actually be demons in disguise.
The Tire Kickers
You likely need fast funding and don’t have time to waste with investors who aren’t serious about committing funds. This isn’t a used car lot, so watch out for “The Tire Kickers.”
“As a founder, the last thing you need is to have your chain yanked. A firm “no” is far better than “we’ll think about it” or “we’ll take it under advisement.” If you feel like an angel is stringing you along, trust your gut,” advises Jenny Q. Ta in Fast Company. “Chances are pretty good they are afraid of making a commitment until they know who else is joining the round. Beware of the sheep in angel’s clothing.”
You’ve undoubtedly seen this personality shine on the reality shows. A would-be entrepreneur pitches their product, but can’t recall every financial figure and stat to back their claims. That’s when “The Sharks” see their prey — and they attack.
According to Martin Zwilling in Business Insider,“This is the ultimate bad guy whose sole intention of getting involved in early-stage investing is to take advantage of what they believe is the entrepreneur’s lack of financial and deal-making experience. If the term sheet process turns to pure torture, it may be time to respectfully bow out.”
Angel investors are naturally more risk tolerant, and they may expect you to be as well. With high risk comes the potential for higher returns, and “The Overachievers” are going to want to see the money. Be prepared for these angels to expect bigger payouts than the average investor.
“It isn’t unusual for an angel investor to expect a rate of return that equals 10 times their original investment inside the first 5 – 7 years,” states Murray Newlands with Startup Grind. “When you are being held to this type of standard, the pressure to generate may be intense. If you are considering angel investors, you must determine whether the startup is within a position to expand at the rate the investor expects.”
Every good angel has a mentor, and these higher-ups are called “The Archangels.” They can bring other investors together and make deals happen fast. The Archangels can shape any idea, organize creative funding agreements and turnaround entire companies. These angels are the key contacts that everyone wants to be in touch with, and for good reason — since their influence can attract would-be investors from other industries and geographies. But be warned, as certain Archangels aren’t so trustworthy…
“There are a lot of people that pretend to be “Archangels” and offer to connect you with people that have money, sometimes for a fee,” says Todd Vernon in a recent Inc. article. “If your “Archangel” Investor is not actually investing his or her money, but simply acting as a proxy for others, take note; that is a warning sign.”
Experienced angels have often been in the game for years, and many of them have grown their own companies by completely disrupting their industries with innovative products and methodologies. But in some cases, this is a breeding ground for “The Know-it-alls.” Because these people have been uber-successful by forging their own paths, they may now believe that their way is the right one. And it can be hard for The Know-it-alls to let go and allow you to chart your own territory.
The trick is dealing with this type of angel in a particular way, as Jonathan Moules explained in a Financial Times article. “Be diplomatic about how you receive an angel’s advice, adopting the tips on more “timeless” matters – such as how to find a good salesperson or how to launch a product – and politely ignoring the advice on matters specific to the investor’s previous forays into business.”
The Control Freaks
Although you might be looking for a hands-off investor, be assured that most angels still need to be involved in certain parts of how your company is run. “The Control Freaks” take this to a whole other level though, looking at every detail of how you run your business with a microscope, and then micromanaging to ‘tell’ you how to move the business forward.
“Angel investors aren’t going to shell out big bucks without taking an interest in how the money is used. If you’re expecting them to take a completely hands-off approach, you may be in for a rude awakening,” cautions Rebecca Lake at Quickbooks. “It’s more likely that your angel will want to take an active role in making decisions that affect the outcome of your business.” Lake warns that even with “The Control Freak” making decisions on your behalf, you are still accountable. “Even if they leave the reins in your hands, you’ll still be accountable for explaining the reasoning behind your choices.”
If you’re looking for investors and enhanced business funding, angel investors can still be an option. Do your homework and due diligence to know exactly who you’re working with, understand their expectations and make the right funding partnership. And if the agreement isn’t sitting well with you, don’t sign on the dotted line until you’ve looked at all your options.
There are always alternatives to secure funding for your business, like with Liquid Capital Factoring or Asset-Based Lending. Feel free to reach out and we can discuss your options.