Learn to Earn: The Importance of Angel Investor Education
By Megan Maltby
Investing in early-stage companies is risky business. The odds of having a big win are slim, and many angel investments require the investors to be patient. While it is difficult to pick the “winners” in the world of angel investing, taking the time to learn from the best can really pay off. However, there is no standard angel investor profile. Here at First Angel Network, we have a mix of individuals, with different investment interests and varying appetites for risk. Likewise, while some angels are retired and have a great deal of time to devote to their investing activities, for others, startup investing is pursued as a hobby or secondary activity in addition to their full-time professional responsibilities.
With that in mind, I have provided different suggestions and resources for angel education, depending on how often you would like to engage.
Once per week- Turn to social media:
For those who may be interested in keeping a regular pulse on the angel world, my best piece of advice would be to engage with experts on social media platforms and blogs. Many formalized angel groups and umbrella organizations like the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) and the Angel Capital Association (ACA) have an active presence on social media where they are continuously sharing investment news and helpful resources.
I have personally found it easiest to subscribe to email newsletters from content curators and bloggers. The information gets delivered right to my inbox and I can set aside time once a week to browse through the latest material and stay up to date. Don’t be afraid to go outside of the “angel” space as well- VCs often have great material that can be carried over to the angel world, and subscribing to newsletters from different verticals of investment interest is also beneficial.
Not sure how to get started? In addition to following @FirstAngelNet on Twitter, check out this list of notable VCs and angels to follow on social media.
Once per quarter- Join a webinar:
If you are looking to stay engaged on a monthly or quarterly basis, online webinar sessions are excellent. Live webinars allow you to engage with experts from around the world on a variety of topics and ask questions via a live chat option. I have personally found the ACA to be a key resource for educational webinars focused specifically on angel investing. The ACA typically hosts webinars once per month, and they have also provided an archive of recorded webinars that have previously been held (available here).
The best part about this option is you can pick and choose which sessions you are most interested in- perhaps you are knowledgeable about valuation techniques, but you want to learn more about structuring exits- the ACA archive gives you the freedom to view those sessions that are most valuable to you.
Once per year- Attend a conference:
As notable angel Brian Cohen has stated, “networking with other angels spawns smarter investments, more collegial relationships, and better-performing startups.” If you can only engage in one form of continuing education per year, you should really take the time to attend an Angel conference. Both NACO and the ACA host annual summits where angels can network with like-minded individuals, attend information sessions, and take part in professional workshops. The Angel Resource Institute (ARI) out of the US also hosts various programs and workshops throughout the year that investors can sign up for at their convenience. A list of ARI events can be found here.
As you can see, regardless of the time you have to devote to continuing angel education, there are numerous methods to stay up to date and improve your investment practices. Of course, if you are especially keen you can participate in all forms mentioned. Think of angel investing as a more personal stewardship of your money - just as you invest funds into early stage companies, you should also invest your time to increase returns.