Message for Readers

If you find this blog post useful to your work or if you have interacted with me and have found my sharing helpful, you can pay it forward as follows :

1) Share what you know freely to all who are able to listen with no expectation of reward.

2) If you make big bucks, donate some of that to charity and give back to tech by becoming an angel investor or LP. You can learn more about AngelCentral at

Saturday, June 15, 2019

AngelCentral/Angel Portfolio Report Card

AC goal is to build effective angels by offering quality deal flow, investor education and syndication services. Our community manager zijie has written a wonderful summary of what AngelCentral has done in 2018. You can read it here. Some highlights:
  • Hit our goal of doubling investment commitments. From 3m in 2017 to 6m. Of that about 3.7m actually funded.
  • Signed up over 100 paying members from 0 in 2017. Lovely mix of entrepreneurs, corporate types and family/corporate funds. Best part? Almost 40% of them actually cut a cheque.
  • Trained more than 200 angels.
  • Successfully ran 3 syndicates. 
For 2019, Ning set more ambitious targets to grow everything and we are off to a good start already. Of note, we just launched our 2 sided online platform to facilitate discovery and dealflow.

As for own angel portfolio, we now have 24 investments as of 31st May 2019. Using the 24, it’s a TVPI of 2.6 since 2011. If it is over the 19 investments made since Jan 2015, we are at 3.3 TVPI.

In terms of IRR, it has been 23% since 2011 which includes all our early mistakes and 68% since 2015. Hopefully the numbers show we are getting good at our game and that all our fellow AngelCentral investors are working with a good formula. Hard to say because the high IRR also coincides with increasing liquidity in funding ecosystem. But I do feel we are picking better since retiring and focusing on angel investing.

A few observations
  • mostly paper gains based mark to market so really need to wait for exits to realize those gains
  • 80/20 rule definitely applies. The top 5 startups account for almost all the paper gains.  
  • Angel/vc/pe part of portfolio can act as a barbell to overall portfolio. It helps add 2-3% to overall returns which is very significant. 
  • Early exits are no good. We need 30x returns not 2-3x.
  • It’s really all about founders and depth and scope of their hunger.
Personally, I want to share that helping to run AC has given more purpose to my life. So it really validates the point about having a meaty identity to sink my teeth into that takes up time, is intellectually challenging and also hopefully pays back.

Now Ning and I call ourselves full time angel investors who not only invest 4-5 startups a year but help hundreds more find angels via AC. We are now useful again in a concrete economic way. It’s also a lot more fun to co-invest with other likeminded investors. 

The tricky thing is how to balance it all so that I don’t end up getting obsessed.
It’s quite easy to get back to old mould. I got disproportionately frustrated over a failed syndicate and I had to remind myself that it’s just part and parcel of running an angel grouping.

Hopefully things will continue to balance well and our angel activities continue to grow and add value to the ecosystem. Key thing in my mind is monetization for existing startups and real exits that generate founders who can invest back to spur our ecosystem even higher! 

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