By guest authors Irina Patterson and Candice Arnold
Irina: So, appssavvy is one of Wider Wake deals?
Paul: Yes, appssavvy is one our deals; KlipSmart is the company that we built years ago [before Wider Wake] . . . Smartclip is a company within Thomas Falk’s (one of our cofounders) empire, and that’s a video ad network that’s going great in Europe. As for Wider Wake exit success stories, the companies that we’ve invested in, it’s too early for us to have exited from them.
Irina: Could you name some other interesting startups from Wider Wake’s current portfolio?
Paul: The Trade Desk; it is run by Jeff Green, who was the CTO at AdECN, which was sold to Microsoft about a year ago. And he’s been separated from Microsoft and has built another exchange bidding platform called The Trade Desk. There’s another deal we’re trying to close at this moment, but I won’t be able to tell you about that until we’ve done it.
Steve: One other is Panvidea.
Paul: Yes, Panvidea is run by Chris Cali. We were actually invited into that deal by a couple of venture capital companies. And that’s starting to happen more and more these days, where we’re being invited in by a venture capital or an institutional investor to be the strategic component in their deal. So, even though we certainly didn’t have the lion’s share of that investment amount, we were invited in by Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) and Greycroft Partners as sort of strategic angels, which was quite interesting to us. We initially set our angel group up thinking that we were going to fund a very early stage, pre-Series A or pre-Series B. But we’re now being invited to later-stage deals where the institutional investor feels that the company can benefit from our expertise.
Irina: So, what are your current best sources of deal flow?
Paul: Predominantly our network of investors and investment entities, such as VCs. We don’t advertise directly to entrepreneurs. If they’re good enough, they tend to find you!
Irina: It has been said that angels usually invest in someone they know personally. Is that true with your group?
Paul: We’re getting involved at such an early stage – usually first outside money, that is, after friends and family but before Series A – that 75% of the decision is the people we’re giving the money to, not just the business model. In terms of how they come to us and how likely it is for them to be funded if they know someone, yes, clearly it helps. Of our membership ranks, you know, the 25 of us, somebody in the group will know that person or will know someone who knows them very well. But, of course, if nobody knows the person and the business model is sound and, particularly, the management team are sound, then no, they don’t have to know anybody in the group. They can always send an e-mail through the site, but recommendations from folks inside our network and membership tend to be the best quality. Knowing someone in our group makes a big difference.