Angels: Development or Momentum?

Giff Constable startups, venture capital

Aprizi is not in a mad rush to raise a seed round, but it is something we want to do and I have been thinking about when to start expanding the conversation beyond a few folks who already know me.  An interesting question arose last night when I mentioned to another entrepreneur that I was heading to Australia for 2 weeks in late Feb (the kids have to see their great-grandma!).  I’ll be working in Oz, but for this kind of stuff, I think you want to be in the same room.

The response from this entrepreneur was (as I understood it): don’t approach angels until you get back.  It is a momentum game and you need to strike while they are hot, otherwise the next thing could come in and their energy towards you might get lost in the shuffle.

I won’t pretend to be an expert at raising an angel round, so I reached out to a few other smart folks.

I asked Joe Beninato, a serial entrepreneur and great mentor, what he thought.  His response (which he also tweeted) was the following:

“In the spirit of “customer development” I believe in “angel development”. Start conversations early with angels before you’re even ready to “pitch them,” tell them what you are thinking about (even without a deck), get feedback, and then over time show them progress. The fact that you are gone for 2 weeks is not a dealbreaker … you will still be working while you are away, so while you can’t meet with people for 2 weeks, you can still demonstrate progress.

Another entrepreneur currently running a VC-funded and very successful company shared this opinion: don’t wait to start. If a process gets moving, just push hard, use video conferencing, and make it happen from wherever you are.

And finally, another young venture capitalist agreed with the first opinion: wait until you get back to get things going so you can keep the momentum up, not to mention that you’ll benefit from the product being that much further along.

So… mixed opinions.  One approach could be to keep building relationships with folks where I already have a connection, but hold off with folks who do not know me at all.  My historical view has been closer to Joe B’s advice of “angel development” because fund-raising always takes much longer than you think.  I’m still pondering.

What do you think?