The Vancouver Enterprise Forum hosted their annual Angel Investing panel discussion earlier this week and it was a sold out affair.
BC’s 2011 Angel Investor of the Year Boris Wertz moderated a panel that included Initio Group’s Mike Edwards, Eastside Games’ Jason Bailey, Scenario Creation’s Paul Antoniadis, and veteran Seattle angel Geoff Entress.
While the entire event was informative for entrepreneurs looking to raise (and entertaining thanks to Jason Bailey’s sound bites), Vancouver got to meet its newest superangel in Edwards.
Prior to co-founding Initio Group, Edwards co-founded AreaConnect, a localized search directory, which sold to Marchex in 2006 for 17x forward revenue. He also co-founded InternetStudios.com in 1999 and raised a total of $22 Million for it before the business died very quickly with Internet explosion of March 2001.
Moderator Boris Wertz on Mike Edwards: You guys just heard that he started in fall of 2010 and has invested in 35 companies. He’s the fastest angel investor I’ve even seen and probably the one with the biggest cheque book. So if you want to focus your efforts tonight, it’s Mike Edwards [audience laughs].
On himself: I’m in process of learning how to be an angel investor. I believe in massive action. I’ve invested in about 35 companies in the past year. I have companies in Montreal, New York, LA, San Francisco, Beijing, and Vancouver. In that process I’ve gone from being an angel to what some people call a superangel which means active to a Micro VC which means in the process of writing those cheques I was able to convince other people to write cheques.
On his investment strategy: I’m not typical. I am in startup stage right now myself. And so as all of you should be reading lean startup methodology I believe in that strategy. I’m in the experimental stage and starting to validate my assumptions right now. I invest all over the map. I have some pure sciences that I have invested in out of SFU’s 48 Labs which are really, really interesting companies. I invest in social and casual gaming companies, I’ve invested in ecommerce companies that are subscription based models and a couple SaaS companies. I’m not indicative of someone that has a definable investment thesis yet. That’s my goal. I’ll get one someday.
On average cheque size: It ranges a bit but I’d say my sweet spot is $50 to $100K.
On working with accelerators: Part of my investment thesis has been investing at an LP level in incubators. I’ve invested in GrowLab. I invested in 500 Startups. I’ve made probably 25-30% of my investments out of those companies because it’s a vetting process. I don’t really need to do as much work on it as it’s already been vetted, I’ve already talked to the people. I’ve seen them pre-Demo Days, so I’m not making the investment on Demo Day although sometimes the press says I have. I have already worked with that company for a little and seen how they work.
On non-technical co-founders: What I’ll disagree with the panel about is technical co-founders and investing in suits. I have an thesis that I’m exploring and it may prove me wrong and I may beat my head against the wall on it but not every 22 year-old computer science programmer has the answer to solve big problems. If you’re a 40 year-old middle-aged person that has been working in pharma for the last 10 years and you identify a problem and it’s a massive business and it’s a massive opportunity I want to hear about it. I don’t invest in only in technical co-founder teams. In fact my most recent investment, that hasn’t been announced right now, is three suits that have no ability to code at all.