An angel investor explains what she's looking for when she invests in a company. By Joanne Wilson (Blogger & Angel Investor, Gotham Gal)
I get asked all the time "what do you look for" when you invest in a company. It is a hard one to answer because there is not really a specific answer. I want to see someone who I believe is an entrepreneur. That means they have a fire in their belly, are super smart and imho has the ability to scale, listen, be agile. Those are just some of the qualities of an entrepreneur.
These days everyone seems to want to be an entrepreneur. I have said before and will say again that I am a huge fan of the lifestyle entrepreneurs. People who have figured out how to have their own business which makes enough to fund their life style, their brain and their drive. Obviously, I like the entrepreneur who wants to think big as those are the people I invest in.
I think one of the reasons I am drawn to this business is that I am an entrepreneur at heart. I started as young as 3 years old where I realized that the puppies my Mom was selling in the front yard would benefit from selling lemonade too. Do all entrepreneurs start with a lemonade stand? That yearning to build businesses stuck with me. In second grade I decided that my friend down the block and I were so incredibly talented in the entertainment business that we would put on a show in my backyard and sell tickets for all the neighbors to see. It was obvious from the first show that my talent was not in singing but selling the tickets because the attempt to put on a second show failed miserably. In fifth grade I started a business selling cinnamon sticks to my peers at school. I decided to branch out with other flavors such as lemon and mint but they did not sell as well so I discounted those sticks and moved all my inventory into cinnamon. Short lived but a nice money maker for a few months. I had three jobs in high school working at a plant store, coaching junior high school and elementary school kids in after school sports and managing the office for the Montgomery Department of Recreation that put on all these events and I also taught guitar lessons a few nights a week. I worked through college too.
I have always loved building businesses and figuring out how to make money. Those skills have served me well over the years as I built businesses and worked in startups. It was almost innate. Even now I am essentially building a business with our own capital from investing in entrepreneurs and real estate. I was never the best student although I always got by. It has always been work that has inspired me.
I look back at many of the decisions I have made and the roads that I have taken that have led me to where I am now. I would say that my ever burning passion to build businesses is exactly what I am looking for on the other side of the table. That passion sometimes starts the second you come out of the womb.
About the blogger: Joanne (@thegothamgal) is an advisor and investor in startups, including Curbed (Eater/Racked), Food52, Red Stamp, Catchafire, DailyWorth, Editd, Ricks Picks, Cacao Pietro, Editions 01, Hot Bread Kitchen, Nest.io, Gotham Gym, The Moon Group and MOUSE. Her most successful venture is being married to her best friend and raising three kids.