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Seed Capital From Angel Investors: Brian Cohen, Vice Chairman, New York Angels (Part 4)

Posted on Monday, Dec 27th 2010

By guest authors Irina Patterson and Candice Arnold

Irina: So, you run the educational workshops for entrepreneurs as part of your work for New York Angels?

Brian: Yes. We started a New York Angels meet-up group in New York City, and we’ll have ongoing educational workshops.

Irina: How often?

Brian: New York City is a complicated place, so the number of activities that take place can be overwhelming to anyone.

Some of the workshops are ones we do ourselves, which we can control. We have Wilson Sonsini, one of the leading law firms in the space, as our sponsor and partner. They do ongoing workshops, so we collaborate with them on term sheets, design, and developments. We invite our angels and entrepreneurs to those.

Pricewaterhouse is another one of our sponsors. They do a variety of discussions, updating people on accounting principles and things the community needs to be aware of. We’ll do it on an as-needed basis. We can’t always be sure that the person that we want to give the workshop is available when we want her to be. So, it’ll be an ongoing, “check the winds” of what people need to know, rather than talking heads that are talking about the same things that everybody else talks about.

Many of the people whom we’ll ask to provide input will be established in particular areas of academic prominence, angel prominence, or vertical market prominence.

For example, the next discussion we’re thinking of having is somebody to teach us how gaming is an important part of multiple disciplines and how the concept of gaming is becoming a part of the metric for determining qualitative due diligence needs for a particular company.

We’ll probably have gaming experts come in and talk about that so that entrepreneurs and investors understand how the gaming industry is infiltrating. Again, the aim is to have a deeper, thoughtful, more provocative, compelling conversation than a generic one.

Irina: Do you know how many applications or pitches the New York Angels receives each month?

Brian: At least 60 a month, and the numbers continue to go up.

Irina: What happens to those applications? What is the next step?

Brian: It’s a specific process. We’re known for the logic and precision of the process. The first step, when they do come in, is that each is reviewed. The ones that really are not possible, bright people, just not with scalable businesses or investable businesses, are put aside, and we ask the others to come in for a screening.

The screenings are the first Wednesday of every month except August. The New York Angels go in various rooms depending upon how we segment the various companies: media, entertainment, enterprise, pharmaceutical, or maybe a different type of company.

Then the angels come in and listen to screening presentations. These are the raw presentations. Our goal there is to help them in the early stage of their planning and thinking through this presentation. Then we meet that same morning.

We go through 30 or more companies. We will meet and talk about which ones we think have the most promise and select perhaps the top three. We notify the top three.

They come in the next week, and we give them a presentation development training to make sure that they’re good at presenting, to make sure that their slides say what they need to. We get them all set for the next week, which is the breakfast, and that breakfast is when they make the presentations to the entire membership of angels.

New York Angels can also bring to that final table – we call it the “breakfast table” – their own deals that they’ve recently invested in because we want them to be encouraged. Those don’t have to go through this screening process. They can be given what we call an “easy pass,” and that easy pass gives the New York Angel investor an opportunity to present the company he’s invested in recently in front of his or her member friends as quickly as possible.

This segment is part 4 in the series : Seed Capital From Angel Investors: Brian Cohen, Vice Chairman, New York Angels
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