20 Lesser Known Angels Crushing It
Including seven incredible female angel investors.
By Sean Freidlin (Writer, AngelYak)
Getting into the right deal is the name of the game but often in a world where entrepreneurs can find almost any angel or many angels to help support their rounds, bringing additional value of connections or expertise can seal the deal. From the bay (SF) to the island (NYC) and all in-between there are angels who can walk startups through the right steps of investing, scaling, and reaching that elusive “Product Market Fit” knowing that someday their tiny little investment could become the world’s next twitter.
Here are 20 lesser, “un-famous” Angel investors that are crushing it and getting their hands on hot early stage deals before any VC has a fighting chance.
With some big names like Polaris Ventures and ESPN under his belt, Ryan has been part of the startup ecosystem from the very beginning, always helping founders and actively pushing initiatives that help all startups. He was also a frontrunner for Dogpatch Labs which was one of the first of its kind for “coworking” spaces and connecting startups to one another. You can read about Dogpatch on Ryan’s blog here.
Dan is the magic behind many successful startups including ManPacks, PlanCast, GetAround, and PayRoll Hero and has several exits under his belt including Flowtown (acquired by *DemandForce in 2011). A Canadian native, Dan spends his time all over influencing deals and go-to-market strategies and currently working on an expertise network called Clarity which is a useful service for any business in need of advice.
Mostly known as the founder of SoundTracking, a hot startup changing how music is listened to and shared, Steve can spot talent a mile away and startups know it. He’s gotten in last minute in some of the hottest rounds because he’s smart and gets how founders think. Steve has invested in Blue Bottle Coffee, StackMob, and WillCall while also advising some fast-growing startups like Uber and StumbleUpon. If there is a deal you want in, call Steve because he’s probably already beat your termsheet.
Victoria Elenowitz (NYC), AngelList Profile
Don’t let the lack of social media presence of Victoria fool you, she has insight into almost every female-founded deal on the east coast as well as sight over very early stage deals sometimes at the prototype level. Victoria is supportive and active across all the female founder fronts: Women 2.0, Astia, Springboard Enterprises and is an investor member of Golden Seeds. While she doesn’t invest only in female founded startups and has squeezed herself into some fashionable NYC deals, she’ll likely know who is raising before the founder does.
A technical powerhouse – Anthony built SquareSpace from scratch and for awhile was considered the “bootstrapping master” until SquareSpace closed a 38.5MM Series A. He also found his way early on with *Milk, TinyCo and 99Designs all companies that have done fairly well and still in business one way or another. While not an angel investor by volume, Anthony votes with his money and only picks winners. (*Milk was acquired by Google last year but had all the top talent of Silicon Valley on board with its picking of angels to choose from)
One of the more outgoing investors out there, Nikhil will not only find the best funding deals on the market but will maximize a company’s value just by coming aboard; founders know it. Knowledgable about mobile and media he’s been associated with several Seed funds and is a Principal at Softbank Capital. Nikhil has been behind the scenes of many deals including TayKey, Soundtracking, RapGenius and Moat amongst numerous up and coming startups like Keychain Logistics.
One of the only angels left with a “protected” Twitter account, Sonja is known for her stern yet soft demeanor and if she likes what she sees she’ll put in a huge effort behind a startup. A partner and Managing Director at Menlo Ventures, she has deep roots in Silicon Valley with an eye for big metrics but also social change. Sonja also understands highly technical products and startups that can be more capital intensive with huge payouts.
Born business-hacker, Aniq debuted strong as a founder, raising a $3MM Seed round and now totaling more than $16MM raised for Moat, a search engine for display ads, giving him street and VC cred. Aniq has an eye for talent and thinking large scale and fast. So for early stage founders that want to get a round filled in quick, Aniq is usually one of the first angels to get a deck, call or tweet.
A marketing genius, Michael understands how to tell the story for a brand and has been associated with some of the largest corporate campaigns with Salesforce, Buddy Media and Tagged. Michael invests out of his family’s fund and gives special care to particular types of startups for meaningful investment but would be the perfect angel to call before a big push for a Series A.
Lauren Flanagan (NYC), AngelList Profile
One of the east coast’s pioneers in angel investing, Lauren knows how to fill a round with big corporate players as well as find the right exit. Not known for trendy or “sexy” startups, Lauren makes special investments in mid-stage angel deals (usually Seed or Series A) and is a strategic piece for any round. Another investor active with Springboard Enterprises Lauren is seen as a tough coach with a big toolbox and often invests in female founded startups that get passed on that lead to quiet big dollar exits in unsexy spaces.
Between ZocDoc, Klout and Kiip, Doug is known for picking winning founders at the earliest stages and helping frame ideas in an investor-friendly fashion. Presently working under Vast Ventures and Dace Ventures, Doug is involved in successful deals regardless of location or industry including Hashable, LocalResponse and Tracked and knows when to hand off startups to bigger VC guardians.
A long-time Silicon Valley pioneer, everything Ross touches turns to gold with involvement in many TechCrunch Disrupt winners. Usually a lead in Angel rounds, Ross spotted Badgeville and Slideshare in their earliest days and is better known from his early days as a founder for SocialText. He brings along with him close relationships with all the top and highly respected VCs on Sand Hill. Ross currently oversees business development at Slideshare.
Gil has all the staple “Paypal mafia” investments under his belt including AngelList, eVite and Cafe.com syndicating like a boss. Similar to Ross, Gil will often lead the round of any startup he believes in giving dealflow and access to his trusted partners without shopping his startups around too much, and he knows the ins and outs of most angel investor circles to find the right fit.
An up and coming force in the angel investing space, Sukhinder a veteran from Google, focuses on retail and consumer spaces having been associated with mainstream retail like J.Crew and shopping startup Polyvore. Well respected by founders on both coasts, she often gets early stage glimpses of consumer startups and early sneak peaks at female founded ones that often stay within her network. She has been rumored to be increasing the size of her own investment fund.
Bernie Dixon (Atlanta), @bernie_dixon
One of the few angels not based in the valley or NY, Bernie is an example of the “city-exodus” of startups backing practical ideas that grow the old-fashioned way: revenue. With only 25 followers on Twitter, Bernie could easily be mistaken for lack of access but she somehow garnered the title“Master Negotiator” by several sources and is looked up to by many old-school angel investors with big checkbooks looking for returns. Bernie is one of the top angel investors running under the radar that will likely be a huge force to reckon with very soon.
A globe-trotting visionary, Shaun has his hand in payments company TrialPay as well as Refinery29 and Soma Water. Shaun has a niche of leaning towards social-cause startups and ideas looking to change urban living. If someone needed a well connected collaborator for urban planning and design, odds are Shaun has either taken a look or already invested.
East coast sweetheart Ben has his hand in HowAboutWe and Yipit as well as other deals that have crossed paths with High Peak Ventures. His claim to fame is founding Community Connect, scaling it with massive venture and leading it through acquisition by Radio One (NAS: ROIAK). Ben saw publishing as a business before the internet matured around publishers like AOL and HuffingtonPost. If there is anything moving in the publishing space Ben will know.
Besides sharing a common thread of startups as many successful angels do (Soundtracking, Moat, Spree Commerce) Mike believes more in ideas and solving problems than any other component and understands SaaS layers in the enterprise space very well. Another angel to watch, he has many recently funded startups that are surely to be disruptors in their respective spaces.
Sheryl’s latest claim is getting into Fab.com as an investor, a hot startup everyone is watching for a big move either by acquisition or exit. Many founders see her as a marketing maven that can bring an added level of branding and marketing that most startups need, but might not be able to afford just yet. A investor partner at Golden Seeds, Sheryl serves as a central contact point in the New England area for angel investors all over the U.S.
Jean Hammond (Boston), AngelList Profile (N/A), @JeanHammond
Another New Englander, Jean is active with a program she has co-founded called LearnLaunch which is getting her on the radar of very early stage startups in the Boston area (pre-Seed round, more incubator). She also recently helped Socrative close their Seed round as well as built up an extensive syndicate network that is likely to be showing more deals in Q1 of next year. She’s another angel to watch in the coming months.
Know an angel we missed or who is closing awesome deals unnoticed? Have a deal you want to know more about? Send us anything. We’ll read it. Email us: [email protected]
About the blogger: Sean Freidlin is a New Yorker who loves all things financial. He sometimes writes for BuzzFeed and gets the scoop on hot deals. He tweets mysterious stuff @freidlin.