My First Year as an Angel Investor at Apricot Capital in Boston

40_Lum-Jennifer-304.jpeg

By Jennifer Lum (Angel Investor, Apricot Capital) I've been angel investing for a year now and I’m thoroughly enjoying it! I started investing so that I could collaborate with top entrepreneurs and investors.

I invest through Apricot Capital with my co-founder Peter Wernau. We've invested in 8 companies and are thrilled to be working with a stellar group of entrepreneurs. Our first investment, Peekaboo Mobile, was acquired in April 2011 and our second investment, OnSwipe, closed a Series Awesome in June 2011.

I've worked with brilliant teams to build successful companies. I've spent half my career in startups and the other half in large corporations. The startups I've worked with are Quattro Wireless (acquired by Apple), m-Qube (acquired by VeriSign) and WebHosting.com (acquired by SBC Communications).

My operational experience has allowed me to gain the knowledge required to start investing and to become a mentor at 500 Startups and TechStars Boston.

The investor community has been very generous with their time and support in teaching me about early- stage investing and inviting me into their syndicates. Thank you for giving me my wings!

Getting Started

My approach was to first invest in (a) learning from experienced investors and (b) meeting a broad range of entrepreneurs in order to build a strong network. Attending events, working with accelerators and joining AngelList were effective ways to meet high quality people on both sides of the table.

  • Events: I’ve met many seasoned investors and smart entrepreneurs at Jon Pierce’s Angel Bootcamp and Jason Calacanis’ Open Angel Forum”.
  • Accelerators/Incubators: I’ve built strong relationships by working with 500 Startups, TechStars and MassChallenge. I’ve also spent time with Year One Labs and Real Ventures in Montreal and Extreme Ventures in Toronto, my hometown.
  • AngelList: I’ve established great connections through AngelList. Apricot has invested in three companies featured on AngelList.

The Deal

We source deals through the activities listed above and also through referrals. When we evaluate investment opportunities, we ask ourselves these questions:

  • Do we love the team and believe that they are capable of building a successful company?
  • Do we understand the strength, utility and differentiation of the product?
  • Are we excited about the market, positioning and potential to capture significant market share?
  • Do we have the capability to add value (beyond a check) to help the business accelerate?

There was a resounding YES to each question when I met Jen McCabe, co-founder of Habit Labs and Y Combinator grad. Jen is the first female founder we’ve invested in. We are incredibly excited to be working with Jen and her co-founder Buster Benson. My first meeting with Jen was an intense, four-hour discussion where she walked me through their background, the market opportunity and their overall vision.

Habit Labs is a social health company devoted to helping people build better habits. They are working on Budge, a behavior change platform built on “Habit AI”. Jen McCabe is a passionate, articulate and driven entrepreneur who is shaping the future of health tech.

I'd like to highlight a few more inspiring and impressive founders and future-founders in Boston. These amazing women are on my “Women to Watch” list.

  • Julie Yoo is Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer of Kyruus, an information exchange for physician interactions. Julie is a sharp entrepreneur driving significant change in the healthcare industry. Prior to Kyruus, Julie was the VP of Clinical Product Strategy at Generation Health, which was acquired by CVS. Follow her on Twitter at @julesyoo.
  • Jordyne Wu is the Director of Business Development at HubSpot. Jordyne has established strategic partnerships with Google, Salesforce and Facebook and runs the Hubspot Marketplace for 3rd party services and apps. She is an unstoppable force and possesses a frightening level of intelligence. Follow her on Twitter at @jordyne.
  • Sarah Hodges is the Director of Marketing at RunKeeper. Sarah is well-known digital marketer and blogger who is vocal about achieving a data-driven approach to marketing. Sarah has leveraged her unique understanding of emerging channels to fuel Runkeeper's early viral success and grow an engaged audience of over 6M users. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahhodges.
  • Tiffany Pham is entering her final year at Harvard Business School. Tiffany works at HBO in Digital Distribution Strategy. She is also producing Anna Kerrigan’s second feature film Wunderkind, she is the Distribution Strategist for Justin Lerner’s hit feature film Girlfriend and is a also reporter for the International Business Times. Follow her on Twitter at @tifftpham.

Make your first investment!

My first year as an angel investor has been an amazing and rewarding experience. I’ve met interesting and accomplished people and learned a great deal from them.

I strongly encourage you to learn about angel investing and to take the plunge by investing in a team that truly excites you. Feel free to contact me anytime. Good luck!

Editor's note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. About the guest blogger: Jennifer Lum is a Canadian entrepreneur, mentor and investor. She’s spent the past six years in mobile and splits her time between Toronto and Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @jenniferlum.