Startup Angels a unique investment group that truly does it all. Startup Angels provides assistance to angel investors through action-based learning, networks, tools & training, as well as an investor. One of Startup Angels slogans is that “Great ideas can come from anywhere. Great investors can too.” KITE Invest spoke with the Founder & CEO of Startup Angels, Leslie Jump, to get a look into this unique and dynamic investing platform.
KITE Invest: Please shed light on the formation of Startup Angels and a bit behind the team that makes up this unique investment group.
Leslie Jump: The Startup Angels’ team has a variety of different experiences and DNA around global entrepreneurship and global ecosystem building. We are comprised of people who have been entrepreneurs, investors, and startup visionaries.
We came together because we are all very passionate about advancing entrepreneurship in communities across the United States and the world. Currently, there is no worldwide on-ramp for aspiring angel investors or a platform to connect active investors with new investment opportunities.
There is a great need to activate more early stage investors around the globe. We have estimated that there are around 400,000 active angel investors on the planet today, but there are about 400 million people who could be. Our mission is to unleash the potential of these millions of new startup investors. Startup Angels specifically focuses on the markets that are not the typical tech hubs (like Silicon Valley) wefocus on the rising startup markets; the communities with great potential, tremendous talent and available capital.We believe that every entrepreneur should have the opportunity to build their projects in their own communities, without having to move to bigger hubs; we help community leaders build those type of communities.
Startup Angels is building a platform for aspiring angels to discover startup investing, explore and connect with new investment markets around the world. We define investing in four categories: capital, time, talent and networks. Through our platforms and programs, we provide investors the opportunity to invest in these four ways.
KITE: What have been some of the hardest challenges Startup Angels has faced since it was founded?
LJ: Startup Angels is a startup. We have the daily bipolar rollercoaster that every entrepreneur has. The biggest challenge is inertia in the communities, where angel groups are understaffed and not prepared to serve its large host communities.
Another challenge is helping people understand that the high risk of startup investing can be managed. If you invest in what you know, be it the sectors or the people, and in places where you can add value beyond a dollar amount, it will make a huge difference.
KITE: Startup Angels works around the world, and provides investors and entrepreneurs alike with useful timelines and notable figures. What is the extent of Startup Angels involvement in each of these markets?
LJ: We have two aspects to our platform, online and offline. The online platform is a reference for startup markets profiles, to which we have close to 25 featured online today. Our stretch goal is to have 100 markets featured online by the end of the year. The profiles offer abrief but comprehensive snapshot of that market, its growth, relevant startups and industries and key players
Our deeper engagements with the communities are our programs, which range from global gatherings of thought and investment leaders, to investor related content within larger the tech and startup conferences, as well as workshops in small, intimate settings tailored for the investment community of that market.
KITE: Could you explain a bit more about the online platform and the reasons for why Startup Angels is developing this?
LJ: The concept to create this platform showcasing startup market profiles, leaders and general overviews, sprang up during our first year, two years ago. We found as a team that many communities struggled to tell their stories in a compelling way to prospective investors. Accelerator and small fund mangers, community leaders, incubators etc. had a need to elevate the level of investment activity in their communities, but did not have strong ties with the angel investors in their respective communities.
To this point, we realized there was a disconnect between the people working fervently to grow the angel community and the people who have the capacity to invest in it. Our online platform serves as a mechanism to provide a snapshot of the angel investing space in a respective market. These profiles detail what the risks and opportunities are, what the major industries are that inform the startup market, who the trending, hot startups are, the key players, the investors, the community leaders, all in the context of a timeline that showcases what has made each market what it is today.
KITE: In terms of events, Startup Angels just announced the Angel Summit Europe that will be taking place in Madrid on June 22-23. Could you speak to the focus of the event and also, why was Madrid chosen as the venue?
LJ: At Startup Angels we are constantly scanning the world for high growth, high opportunity markets, and where we feel like our presence and activity could help these markets get to the next level. Madrid has had an amazing explosion in the growth of its startup ecosystem in the short period of time, especially after being hit by severe recession. Spain in general is great comeback story and has foster entrepreneurship ecosystem building as means of economic recovery.
One of our main partners is Google Entrepreneurs, who will be opening a Madrid Campus this June, as well as with Up Global who runs Startup Weekendsand of course, KITE Invest. We spoke to many people throughout the industry in Madrid and we saw that not only is Madrid a great location, but there is tremendous talent, big business, capital and interest to support entrepreneurship.
Our first AngelSummit was last year in Dallas, Texas. We brought startup entrepreneurs, investors (angels, venture capitalists, family offices and corporate venture), community leaders (accelerators) and many other ‘influencers’ around the Texas area and the US. Our conferences are small and somewhat exclusive, because we want to ensure that people can actively connect with each other.
KITE: Lastly, is there any other message that you would like to share about Startup Angels and what we should hope to see in the near future?
LJ: We are excited about work in what we see an enormous unfulfilled potential in the world. When we speak to people in Africa, Middle East, Latin America, the United States, etc. we are incredibly encouraged by the fact that there are so many people who share our vision and what to make this happen, come together and intelligently invest in startups.
If we could shift 1% of that 400 million potential investors into the active investor column, it would have an enormous impact on entrepreneurs around the world. It would be equal to 10 times the current venture capital invested in the world today, and that is a goal worth achieving.