Having known Allen and Paul for a bit it is pretty clear what they are doing. They are coming together and institutionalizing what they have been doing for a number of years. They formed a company to create companies. They formed a company to do the same thing they have been doing with the likes of Pindrop Security and Springbot.
TechSquare Labs. It's not an accelerator. It's not an incubator. It's not even a fund per se. It's not about the number of startups served.
It's focused hands on very early stage management to provide capital, coaching, product development, and team building expertise. It's for technical founders. It's for deep IP. It's to build big, meaningful companies. It's a welcome addition to the ever growing Atlanta startup landscape.
Yesterday I walked down the hall at Tech Square to sit in on a few sessions of the Georgia Angels Meetup. I had a particular interest in the deal flow panel that included Stephen Fleming, Jennifer Sherer, Jennifer Bonnett, Michael Blake, Sanjay Parekh, Katie Elizabeth, and Allyson Eman. Quite the group. And so were the folks in the audience and on the other panels.
Here are my takeaways.
1. There are a lot of startups in Georiga. The Atlanta Technology Angels (ATA) had 413 companies apply for funding in 2013 and there are currently 470 ATDC member companies. Add in the 175 or so that are members at Atlanta Tech Village and that is a lot of startups!
2. According to Stephen Fleming Georgia Tech alone is producing over 100 startups a year.
3. Due to the tremendous growth of the Atlanta startup community the original mission of StartupLounge has been acheived. Michael Blake, one of the StartupLounge founders, declared mission accomplished. To quote, "there is plenty of Series A funding to go around." I agree. Michael seems to think the issue now is getting a Series B. He also thinks it is a much more complex problem to solve.
4. The ATA funnel looks like this. 413 startups applied for funding. Of those that applied 79 were screened. About 20% made it to the screening. Twelve investments were made. Approximately 3% of the companies that applied to ATA were funded.
5. Due diligence matters. The rate of investor return increases dramtically when they invest more than 40 hours in due diligence.
The meetup was a good one with more capital in the room than I care to count. Hundreds of millions of dollars looking to find a home in Atlanta startups. Good stuff.
It's kinda odd some of the discussions that I have recently had with early stage entrepreneurs about angel rounds. Folks wanting to raise $800k at a valuation more than $5 million. Seems a little rich to me and I said as much.
Well Silicon Valley Bank is out with their Q2 Halo Report. And sure enough the median angel investment was $590k with median pre money valuations at $2.5 million.
Everybody wants to raise money and talk about it. One of the things that does not get talked about quite so much is the overhead of taking someone else's money. More often than not one of your investors joins your newly created board and you start having board meetings. And every time I have been advising an entrepreneur on such a thing and the first board meeting comes up panic generally sets in. "How do I prep for the meeting?"
It's a fair question for a first time entrepreneur and it goes something like this.
1. Ask the board members what they would like to see at the meeting. They typically will share with you some board meeting materials from their more advanced stage companies that you will find completely overwhelming. "They want to see what?" you and your team will exclaim. The panic will deepen. Don't fret.
2. Ask the CEOs of the investors other portfolio companies what they provide to the board for their meetings. If you were smart and did your investor diligence before you accepted that term sheet you will already have established a relationship with these folks and they will be more than happy to help. What you will find is that what they are providing to their boards is a little bit less than what the board gives to you as examples.
3. Plan ahead. The first time you prep for a board meeting it will consume quite a bit of time. It's well over a two week planning process. This process shrinks over time. I prepare the board materials for nCrowd and I can literally get them together in less then 48 hours after a few years of doing so.
4. Set a schedule. Our board meetings are the third Tuesday of every even numbered month at 2:00pm and last for 90 to 120 minutes.
5. Get the board the materials out early. At least 48 hours before the meeting. With our Tuesday board meetings my aim is to get them the materials on Friday and if I lapse they go out on Saturday morning. While the materials may change in scope and size they generally include the following.
Board meeting minutes
A cap table
KPIs and operational overview
An organzational chart including planned hires (if you have enough folks to warrant one)
Special departmental or strategic presentations
6. No surprises. Each board member should know what is going to be discussed at the meeting and the CEO needs to understand each board member's point of view on important topics of discussion.
My number one rule on board meetings is to get in and get out quick and nobody gets hurt. Proper preparation will ensure this happens for you.
It's a much broader than your typical technology startup funding event. It will explore alternative and traditional lending options, angel investments, crowdfunding, private equity and more.
I have the honor of being on a panel, Startups Start Here, moderated by Daryn Kagan of CNN fame. I will be joined by a great group including Daryl Dollinger, Co-Founder of Raving Brands and President of Big Game Brands; Andrew Linder, Partner at Frontier Capital; Sig Mosley of Flashpoint Ventures/Imlay Investments/Mosely Ventures; David Rudolph, Founder and CEO at PlayOn! Sports; Michael Tavani, Co-Founder & Head of Product at Scoutmob; and Mark Wilson, President & CEO at e-Verifile.
Quite the panel.
you are seeking startup, working, or growth capital this will be a nice event to learn about various local sources of captial and find out which are right for your business. It is a bargin at $30 and friends of FoG can get a $10 discount (the discount code is ATCLW).
Seems like my Twitter stream was full of references to this angel investor infographic from Investor Pitches (they build pitch decks). The most interesting thing to me is that an angel's average net worth was a lot more than $750k.
This Thursday night at 6:00 is Entrepreneurs' Night. It is my ADTC swan song, and it's going to be a good one. In May we shaking things up a bit and having several Atlanta angel groups present what they are looking for in their deals. I call it the Angel Editon.
Each of these folks will be given 5 timed minutes to present followed by 5 timed minutes of Q & A. Kinda turning the tables a bit. This is the first time that Sig will be talking about Flashpoint Ventures in public. Flashpoint just began accepeting applications today.
This event is open to all enterpreneurs. We would love to see you there. If you plan to attend please register.
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The opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone (with the exception of comments by others of course). They do not represent the opinion or position of any other person or entity. All postings adhere to my personal values.