Presentation yesterday at Kellog School of Management’s Coral Gables campus by Troy Knauss of Angel Resource Institute, sponsored by Accelerated Growth Partners, Kauffman Foundation and Greenberg Taurig. Angel investments are typically mid-six figure series A rounds in businesses with a low seven figure valuation. 60% of angel investors have a $1M – $2½M net worth and are looking to invest 10% or less of that across a dozen start-ups, so funding a round often requires syndicating across multiple angel funds or networks. Angels are significantly more prevalent than VCs, so most angel funded business are sold without going on to VC funding or an IPO. Angel portfolios have significant risk and volatility, but with adequate diversification a 20% return is achievable, though funds may be locked up for 3-10 years. Angel funding in the south-east US is less available, meaning investors can negotiate more restrictive terms, but less capital also puts funded businesses at a disadvantage against competitors from better funded regions. Topics covered included due diligence, term sheets, valuations and board involvement.
On the third floor of the Design Center Of The Americas, next to Fort Lauderdale airport, in the same complex as Magic Leap and OrthoSensor is a another rapidly growing startup that has been recently out of the spotlight, Chewy.com. Chewy started as MrChewy only three short years ago, founded by first timers Ryan Cohen and Michael Day, a self taught web developer and college dropout.
The original goal was to sell dog food to raise money for animal shelters, but sales rapidly took off beyond expectations. By early 2012 Mr. Chewy was included in a Forrester Research paper and a series of Wall Street Journal articles including one entitled Pets.com 2.0. This early publicity appears to have attracted the attention of Boston based Volition Capital and a pair of high profile angel investors, Mark Vadon and Kevin Hofmann: Mark Vadon is the billionaire founder of Blue Nile and Zulily and Kevin Hofmann is president of homedepot.com, a $500M+ online property.
Funding has not been disclosed, but Chewy moved into its new 15,000 sq. ft. offices at DCOTA last summer, took over a 300,000 sq. ft. distribution center in Nevada from Toys R’Us, and has hired two senior executives from Amazon to oversee finance and operations. It is only a matter of time before Chewy is back in the spotlight as one of south Florida’s most successful startups.
April 2017: Sold! $3.35B
Melissa Krinzman of Venture Architects and Krillion Ventures hosted by Startup Grind today at LAB Miami. Worked for three high profile national non-profits (including one being mentored by Peter Drucker) before starting her own firm helping entrepreneurs pitch for funding in New York. Have a sense of humour, don’t surprise your investors. Know which VCs you want to pitch based on the way they present themselves. Don’t pitch to associates, they are only empowered to say no. Know they are managing other people’s money and follow a process. Be persistent with marketing your venture to potential investors. Be aware of how a potential investor acts as a board member, especially when things do not go well. As an investor Melissa now on the other side of the table, learning to say no a lot, constantly busy and sometimes slow to respond to requests. Moved back to Miami and looking to close her third local investment through Krillion Ventures. Looking for teams, not individuals, with heart, balls and swagger: integrity, grit and the ability to fake it until you make it. The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make is raising insufficient funding to reach the next significant milestone, stranding the venture in limbo. Early stage VC investment in Miami relatively limited until this year when AGP restarted and Scout Ventures set up offices here. New York startup scene boomed over the past fifteen years, starting with events organized by accountants and lawyers before entrepreneurs started organizing their own events. Knight Foundation a significant help in Miemi, but too soon to say how things will evolve.
Refresh Miami event ‘Bringing your ideas to life’ at Miami Science Museum sponsored by Wyncode. Auditorium packed to capacity, reportedly 300 attendees. First Refresh Miami event for roughly half the attendees: why not a higher proportion of returnees? Roughly one third with an idea or working on a product. Last month’s event was on funding and next month will be on launching once an MVP is complete. Presentations by Ellie Cachette of Koombea and Carlos Taborda of Webbynode and Gistia Labs. Koombea bootstrapped to sixty employees in a few years, Webbynode with $1M revenue in 2010, developed Stack Fu in stealth mode without appreciating it failed to address a significant problem.
Two hours of networking and two hours of presentations, panels and pitches at the lavish offices of GreenbergTraurig on the 44th floor of the Wells Fargo Center downtown. Antonio Sifre making the case that Puerto Rico, like Miami, is an entrpreneurial gatway to Latin America. Xavier Gonzalez pitching the upcoming eMerge Americas conference first envisioned in the same location two years ago. Joanna Schwartz of EarlyShares introducing a crowd funding panel including principals of FundingWonder, FundedByDesign, GroundBreaker (real estate), CrowdSettlements (specialty finance) and CrowdCast. JOBS Act Title II legislation has made it much easier to solicit accredited investors, but the SEC rules for Title III have so far proven prohibitively complex. Title IV enabled intra-state crowd-funding and legislative lobbying has moved to the state level. Next a dozen two minute pitches from Papatel, Validus Solutions, Koemei, App Factory Mobile, Big Data Exchange, Strops Sports and others. Finally an investor panel including principals from New World Angels (south Florida), Tamiami Angel Fund (Naples), Caerus Ventures, and ARC Angel Fund (NY). Gust a popular alternative to FundingPost. Angels typically introduced through an established legal or accounting firm, looking for a large addressable market, team with a good background, traction and an exit plan. Due diligence often drags on for months, but if well organised a term sheet may be finalised in 30 days. Be prepared to pitch in two minutes at any time, make sure to communicate a venture name clearly, and follow up carefully.