By guest author Irina Patterson
Irina: What is your biggest investment success to date?
George: I am one of the three original investors on Twitter; I’m sure that will work out well. And I’m an investor in a company called Yammer, which is becoming the Facebook of enterprise and which is going to be showing their next version of their product and having a major launch at the TechCrunch conference in ten days.
I’m so excited about what Yammer’s doing. Yammer is already big and probably going to be the most important enterprise SaaS company. Up until these companies, my biggest successes were in being a lead investor in Critical Path. I invested about $5 million and returned about $320 million in gains. And in a company called Shutterfly where I was the co-investor and I was the co-founder, I did a total investment of about $8 million and returned about — I have to do the math here at the back of my head — about $150 million in gains.
Irina: Excellent. So, what do you think angels could do to improve entrepreneurial ecosystem, if anything?
George: I’d say the best thing, or the best two things — what I hear from other entrepreneurs about other angel investors, are — one, they wish that they’d make decisions more quickly and two, helping the company when the company needs it, not when the angel investors think the company should need it.
A lot of times founders just aren’t ready to engage in discussion, and sometimes, some people or investors can too pushy and try to force the founders.
Irina: And what do you think angel-backed companies should do to increase their chances of success?
George: The number one thing is have a great product. If you don’t have a great product, nothing else you do makes a difference.
Irina: Right. How do you ensure that you create a great product?
George: Having a powerful vision from the beginning, that’s insightful at the start — which is the idea, and then having a great UI [user interface] and product which is really — it’s a creative act. So, I don’t know of any determinative way for people to do that.
Irina: Thank you, George, very insightful. I hope many aspiring entrepreneurs will follow your advice.