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Seed Capital From Angel Investors: Randy Williams, Founder and CEO, Keiretsu Forum (Part 10)

Posted on Sunday, Jun 13th 2010

By guest authors Irina Patterson and Candice Arnold

Irina: You do track your returns internally, right? And it’s about 20%?

Randy: That study was done to the end of 2007. We founded it in September 2000, so it was a seven-year study. The next study is being done right now, and that study will be complete probably at the end of the year. So, the past two years, we have not published those returns yet. But, if you want to Google us and look at all our fundings locally in Northern California, you can see what companies we’re funding, and what are some of the key companies we funded over the past four years.

Irina: How many investments has the entire forum network make in the past 12 months?

Randy: We’ve done 265 fundings over the last pen years; last year, in Northern California, we did 16 direct. And the total investments we did internationally was 39. The reason that number might appear a little low is because some of our chapters are new, such as the Singapore chapter. We’re just launching Singapore, so there are no funding statistics until next year. Some of our new chapters, such as New York City, already have fundings, but conversely, it’s only six months old. So, some of our chapters are new but the more robust chapters, such in in Northern California are still leading the charge. But there are some really obviously, exciting capital formations in many parts of the world, I’m very, very excited about what’s going on in Asia, as I am in the EU. For instance, Barcelona has done an exemplary job of attracting memberships. There are already over 50 members in Barcelona. They just opened up Madrid on January 29 of this year, so I’m very excited about that. We’re already in London and Paris, and we’re looking at other locations in Europe.

But right now, a lot of capital, I think, eventually in the next three or four years is going to be coming out of Asia, led by our Singapore team and our team in Shanghai and Beijing.

Irina: What do you think about Russia?

Randy: We’ve been approached from friends and colleagues in Russia, and, again, the way it works is whoever thinks that angel investing – and a very sophisticated approach to angel investing – i.e., Keiretsu Forum, would resonate in their community, then they approach our team or me. And the next step is to understand how we do things, and the next step after that is actually to fly and spend two or three weeks here analyzing the model here locally in Northern California, and seeing if, in fact, it would translate to their community. And this local leader has to have the passion and the expertise to build a community because where angel groups have failed is generally, the leaders don’t have the Rolodexes and the resources to attract more than 25–50 members. And what you need is to have a robust community and to build a community over 100 members and sustain it and make sure it’s repeatable, and that’s very difficult for many groups around the world.

Irina: So, would you collaborate with 1M/1M Ambassadors, who are working to help entrepreneurs to reach their first million dollars in revenue?

From day one, we’ve always underscored collaboration with any group . . . any angel group . . . or any group that wants to support entrepreneur growth because we’re here to make good investments, but we’re also here to have fun and to help these companies grow. And fortunately, a lot of us have the resources to help these companies grow, not just with capital. We can get involved and introduce them to customers or help them with their products.

There’s one time when a company came to us, and they came to East Bay, our founding chapter, and there were about 150 people in the room that day at the forum. He was a little flippant, this entrepreneur, he said, “Oh, are there any rocket scientists? I hear there are all smart people at Keiretsu Forum.” Well, nine hands went up, and one, the ex-director of Livermore Lab, who’s a member and whose colleagues have been members at Keiretsu over the past four years said, Excuse me, we’re laser scientists.” So, it’s fascinating all the expertise, from laser scientists to people with deep expertise in real estate to software to clean tech, you name it. And that’s the whole spirit of a robust community to help entrepreneurs.

Irina: Thank you, Randy. Great insights. Thank you for sharing.

This segment is part 10 in the series : Seed Capital From Angel Investors: Randy Williams, Founder and CEO, Keiretsu Forum
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