By guest authors Irina Patterson and Candice Arnold
This is the eleventh interview in our series on financing for entrepreneurs. I am talking to Basil Peters, an angel investor with a passion for exit transactions who has been founding, financing, growing, and selling technology companies for over two decades. Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Basil is the founder, CEO and fund manager of his fund, Fundamental Technologies II.
Irina: Hi, Basil. Tell us briefly about your background.
Basil: I was trained as a computer and electrical engineer and got a PhD here in my hometown, Vancouver. While I was still in graduate school, I started my first company, which was called Nexus Engineering, and we started out manufacturing satellite television and cable television equipment.
We grew that pretty nicely through the 1980s and early 1990s to the point where we had about 500 employees and offices in half a dozen countries throughout the world. We sold that in the 1993–94 to our biggest competitor, which was a fortune 500 company based out of Atlanta, Georgia, and that was my first exit.
That changed me from being a starving entrepreneur who had every cent that I could possibly borrow in the company that I was running to actually having some investable capital.
Irina: How did you arrive at angel investing?
Basil: Finding myself with actual investable capital was a very interesting life transition because as an entrepreneur, I had been very intensely focused on how to raise equity from everything from angel investors to traditional venture capital investors and then later, institutional investors.
It was one of the more interesting things that I’ve done in my career, to switch sides and actually take some of the capital that I’d earned and sit on the other side of the table, looking at making investments in younger companies with younger entrepreneurs.
Irina: And what year was that, when you started angel investing?
Irina: What was the investing vehicle that you used?
Basil: I went through a couple of iterations and I had been investing with my own account, just writing checks from my personal holding company for a while. I made an interesting change in direction in about 2002, and I started a traditional venture capital fund and grew that for about five years before I finally realized that that model didn’t work anymore.
It was fascinating for me to see that what I was trying to do was, basically, almost impossible in the 21st century.
And that gave me a real appreciation for how the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem had changed. The standard model was for entrepreneurs to go out, raise a little bit of money from friends and family, and raise some angel money, and then follow that with venture capital.