By guest authors Irina Patterson and Candice Arnold
Irina: What other opportunities do you offer for university students?
Brian: I wanted to have more collaboration with students, bright students, MBA students – preferably in these cases. So, I created the Future Angels. Now, every meeting, every month, we have the top schools in New York give us their best students, who sit with all the angels in the angel group meetings, listening, participating, and offering their input. It’s really exciting.
They want to be angels at some point. This is the kind of insight and experience that they just can’t get anywhere else. Obviously, they’re making great connections with the New York Angels. It’s really a great program. We’ve had it going for about a year. We benefit, too. I ask them at the end of the presentations to tell us what they think. You know, the average age of an angel is 45 or so, so getting insight from some of these bright kids is fantastic for us.
Irina: How many students usually participate?
Brian: A lot. We have at least six a meeting, and they rotate every 90 days through the universities. We must have had about 50 or 60 go through the angel group in the last year. It’s very competitive.
Irina: They apply?
Brian: Yes, they apply through their universities. The universities have made it a program that these kids compete for. After 90 days, they go back and tell their friends, “I was sitting there with so-and-so, and he started this company, and I saw all these ideas and presentations. I saw how they were discussed.” They can’t get that kind of experience anywhere else.
Irina: What do you do with the companies you don’t invest in?
Brian: You know, the statistics are about 2.5% of companies get angel investing, and 1.3% get venture fund investing. So, what we try and do is help them with their ideas; offer them direction; offer them management guidance. We’re open-minded. We’re open-armed.
Irina: Do you refer them to incubators or any other programs?
Brian: Most of them are pretty savvy, and they’re familiar with all of the possibilities in the New York area. They tend to get a lot of their own fulfillment. If we do see something that isn’t right for us and right for someone else, we’ll definitely refer them to somebody else.
You know, either you take angel investing seriously or you don’t. The serious part about angel investing is the deep caring for the entrepreneur. Of course, the thing about angel investors is we were there, too, and we know how hard it is. That’s critical.
Irina: Thank you, Brian. Excellent insights.