Entrepreneur, Explorer, Angel.

Sometimes all at Once.

10TH April 2012

Angel investing - Business Tricks - Creative problem Solving - Entrepreneur - Explorer - Leadership - Portfolio - Timeless - Timely - Uncategorized - Venture Capital - Vision

Angel Series #7: The thin veil between success and failure


 

Channel Shackleton

This excerpt is serialized from a whitepaper titled Angel Investing for Single Family Offices (SFO’s) by The Family Office Association and Vaux les Ventures.  For a complete copy, visit the FOA website.

The Social Network is a hell of a movie, but the real people upon whom the characters were based have stated that the film’s version of the founding and growth of Facebook was overly dramatized. And appeared way more fun than it actually was.

Face it, entrepreneurship is hard. Angel investing is doubly hard. While we read about spectacular successes, one can hardly keep up with the many outright failures preceding them. The thin veil  can really only be perceived once you are on the right side of it-it’s practically see through! But if you are on the wrong side, the thin veil might as well be a brick wall.

Someone once said the two best traits an angel investor can possess are a strong stomach and a sense of humor. The strong stomach will tolerate its share of quick deaths from being too early, too late, poor execution or leadership, lack of funds, or just tons of competition. The sense of humor will come into play when you attempt to tell your God which element of your portfolio is going to be The Big One. God will invariably laugh and throw at least one thunderbolt, wreaking havoc with your “sure thing” — but turning your also-ran into a winner. (No kidding, it’s happened. But to protect the innocent, we won’t name those we feel were luckier than they were skilled.)

Other sources of angel heartburn include those frustrating periods of illiquidity…the fast pace of technology which upends business models and proprietary positions quicker than at any time in history… the global markets bringing competition to one’s door on a massive scale… the high valuations of exposed deals,…the lack of influence when part of a syndicate…the competition with other angels (and now, VC’s). The list goes on.

The angel game can be summed up in the words of the “advert” placed by explorer Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922) ahead of his Antarctic expeditions (none of them successful, by the way):

“MEN WANTED FOR HAZARDOUS JOURNEY.

SMALL WAGES, BITTER COLD, LONG MONTHS OF COMPLETE DARKNESS.

CONSTANT DANGER, SAFE RETURN DOUBTFUL.

HONOR AND RECOGNITION IN CASE OF SUCCESS.”

And yet, we do it.

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