This is part of my Series on Angel Investing.
Some readers of this blog who are interested in getting involved in angel investing recently suggested I do some case-studies as part of this series. I agreed and thought we ought to start by examining some typically negative scenarios that one inevitably confronts as an angel. Hopefully these case studies will stimulate some questions and further discussion from which we all can learn.
Eventually we'll work our way back to the core issue at hand: your own judgment of other people’s capacity. (See my earlier posts on this topic here and here).
(**Disclaimer: These case studies are not modeled after any person or any company in particular- they are designed for illustrative purposes only).
CASE STUDY ONE:
So you hear rave reviews about this guy long before you meet him. The people raving about him are actually some customers of his whom you’ve known for years and respect and who have successful businesses of their own that have benefited greatly from his product. You meet him. He needs some growth capital. He’s an industry veteran, a go-getter, knows the business inside and out, knows how to stretch a dollar and generally checks out at first glance. You and your small band of angels analyze the business and perform your supposed due diligence. Things look good actually and he’s in talks with a potential acquirer. After a month of analysis and discussion, the investment gets made.
In the beginning all seems fine. There is some initial growth, some promising leads, but after about 18 months you all realize that nothing is happening. There is no growth and the acquisition talks have broken down long ago. There is also very little communication lately. You hear that he’s borrowed some money recently and is having trouble paying it back. You fly out to visit him. He’s friendly, but seems evasive, a little down. He’s gained about 15 pounds since you last saw him. Now what?
He may have got caught up in other things. He may be having marital problems. He may have made some personal investments in other areas when the going was good but then the market tanked. Remember- as an Angel, you are probably not on the Board and you are a minority shareholder.
Q: So what are your options?
A: Welcome to Angel Investing. You have none.
Questions for Discussion:
- So what could you have done differently? Would a convertible note have helped rather than a traditional equity investment?
- Did you really know this person? Did you make reference calls?
- During diligence did you ever meet his family, see his home, see how he lives, what his hobbies are, etc.?
- What does due diligence mean to you?
Let's discuss this case study and the questions I've raised. Looking forward to your thoughts and comments.
For the next post in this Series, click here.