Seven easy ways to scare off an angel investor

April 22, 2016 Comments Off on Seven easy ways to scare off an angel investor

I’ve been an angel investor for nearly two decades. While the investment climate is highly dynamic, what’s unchanged is that pitching to angels is always a challenge – we’re often skittish and faddish at the same time (just like venture capitalists, by the way).

During the past 20 years, I’ve read and heard more presentations than I can keep track of. There are probably 500 ways to chase away potential investors (and probably 5,000 articles and blog posts about what not to do), but in my experience, here are seven of the most effective ways to guarantee a ‘no’.

  1. Insist that there’s no competition
  2. Ask for nice, even, round numbers – with no logical linkage to your budget or sales projections
  3. Make overly optimistic behavioral assumptions for your customers
  4. Casually describe all of your hobbies and side-projects

  5. Paper over intellectual property and regulatory issues

  6. Point out that you’re building a business to hand down to your children

  7. Counter an investment offer with non-standard terms

I’ll be describing these observations in future posts, so stay tuned if you’d like to learn more.

Fast Company names Poshly one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Big Data

February 17, 2015 Comments Off on Fast Company names Poshly one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Big Data

As a Big Data practitioner – and an investor – I’m delighted to learn that Fast Company has recognized Astia Angels’ portfolio company Poshly as a leader in this dynamic and rapidly growing space.

I blogged about Poshly some time ago. One reason that I invested in them was that they’re a great example of employing Big Data to answer real-world questions, rather than just vacuuming up a bunch of information and trying to find a use for it.

Bradley Falk, Poshly’s CTO and co-founder states:

The great thing about beauty and personal care data is discovering how unique everyone is. We can create a portrait of a user in near realtime and discover how the small details can vary so much. We can react to trends, interests and sentiment to create value for both the consumer and the industry while protecting the user’s personal information.

As I’ve watched Poshly’s meteoric growth, I’ve been interested about the approach they would follow to maintain scalability. According to Matthew Drescher, Poshly’s Head of Data Engineering:

We are aggressively utilizing high performance, distributed in-memory computing techniques to vectorize our data, perform in-place analytics, and paint a landscape of insights for our customers to enjoy.    

With the quality of data Poshly gathers, it is possible to take a very geometric approach to generating insights. It’s less like scraping through a haystack in search for a diamond than it is trying to realize the maximum realistic photo resolution.

If you’re interested in all things Big Data, stay tuned for a series of blog posts I’ll be writing on critical algorithms that should be part of your toolkit.

Poshly: a great practical example of Big Data in action

August 31, 2014 Comments Off on Poshly: a great practical example of Big Data in action

With any new innovation, hype can often outstrip results, especially in the early days. A few years back, we saw this with Service Oriented Architecture (SOA): it had lots of promise, but there were relatively few examples of successful implementations. Nowadays, SOAP and REST services – supported by the principles of service orientation – are the primary techniques that distributed applications use to communicate. This has led to all sorts of innovative solutions, especially when pairing these services with mobile devices.

The same things are happening in Big Data: you hear about it all the time, but it’s natural to wonder how it’s being used to add value. Unsurprisingly, new technologies are often viewed as solutions in search of problems, and this is particularly relevant for Big Data since it’s such an all-encompassing discipline.

For Big Data, it’s always useful to look for practical applications: first define the problem, and then use Big Data to supply the solution. Poshly is a textbook example of what I mean: Big Data technologies and practices are being applied to meaningful problems, thereby helping customers answer questions that were very difficult to resolve prior to these advances.

Disclosure: I’m an investor in Poshly through my participation in Astia Angels, an organization I encourage you to check out. Poshly recently closed a $1.5MM investment, which you can read about here at TechCrunch.

Poshly’s website offers a variety of beauty product giveaways which consumers can compete to win by answering personal questions about their beauty routines, habits, interests, and more. The data these questions generate is highly personalized, but only shared with Poshly’s brand customers after being anonymized – meaning users’ personally identifiable information is removed, like their name, email or address. This “hyper-personal data,” as CEO Doreen Bloch calls it, helps brands better understand their customer base in general, or influence larger decisions, like what retail channel to roll out to next, for example.

I’m increasingly learning about dynamic startups like Poshly that are finding realistic uses for Big Data. As time goes by, I suspect that eventually we’ll stop using the term Big Data, and depict it instead as just plain “data” as we portray the exciting ways that information is being put to work.

I’m hosting a prospective member virtual event for Astia Angels on March 24

March 9, 2014 Comments Off on I’m hosting a prospective member virtual event for Astia Angels on March 24

How often do you get the chance to do the right thing, make great connections, and profit from the experience – all at the same time?

Astia Angels, launched in early 2013, is an international network of male and female accredited investors that puts capital to work in women-led, high-growth ventures. All Astia Angels members are highly involved throughout the investment process and make independent investment decisions. Astia Angels holds regular in-person pitch meetings in Silicon Valley, New York City, Boston and in London in 2015. Astia Angels also participate on virtual presentations and national phone calls. Astia Angels is a program of Astia.

Members of Astia Angels:

  • Get early exposure to community-screened, high potential companies
  • Participate in an organized process that ensures the wise and effective use of their time
  • Profit from Astia’s proven, proprietary process that produces high-quality deal flow
  • Engage in post-investment programs that contribute to the success of the portfolio companies
  • Network with the Global Astia Community, including invitation-only events and programs
  • Join a growing movement to increase the funding for women-led, high-growth companies

Want to learn more? Sign up for the Astia Angels virtual meeting that we’re holding on March 24 at 4 pm PT, 7 pm ET.

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