How To Become A Startup “Angel” Investor | Brianne Kimmel on Below The Line with James Beshara

Check out the Below the Line Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • What Brianne Kimmel seeks in founders when investing?
    • Someone who has built great consumer products
    • Someone who understands the end-user
      • It’s also great to have two cofounders where one is the disruptor and the other has domain expertise in the area
  • “If you want to find investors, especially if you want to find great investors, deserve great investors”James Beshara
    • Be thoughtful about the product, distribution, your vision, your competitive advantage, etc.
  • “Founders should really find founder-partner fit. I think there are just different styles of relationships, there are different styles of company building.”Brianne Kimmel
    • If you’re a founder, look at the companies the angel investors and VCs have previously invested in to see if they’re a good match
  • A VC’s “No” doesn’t last forever. Investors can pass on your company early on but that same investor could be open to investing in you later in your journey.
  • Contrary to belief, investors are looking for investments that aren’t risky. They want to know your company is a rocket that’s going to take off with or without them so they better hop on before it’s too late.
    • “They probably don’t need my help but that thing is going to be a juggernaut whether I jump in or not so I better jump in quickly” – James Beshara
  • Don’t be too concerned with check size as a young angel investor. You want to get into deals and show your worth so that you can build up your track record.
    • “I often encourage people who are thinking of building a track record as an angel to not be concerned with check size and just like prove your worth and get in” Brianne Kimmel
  • It took James 7 years to build a positive reputation as an investor  
    • Why does it take so long? It can take 5 years or more for a company to become successful and signal that you made a good investment
      • “It takes quite a while for many of the best companies to ripen”James Beshara

Intro

Books Mentioned

About Brianne Kimmel

  • Brianna grew up in Ohio
    • She started college when she was 16 and studied journalism and computer science in college
      • She moved to Sydney, Australia after college
        • She worked in product at Expedia
          • During the evening and weekends, she taught classes at General Assembly 
            • “In teaching, I had a lot of exposure to early-stage companies, I had a lot of exposure to pitch decks” – Brianne Kimmel
  • She spun her GA course into SaaS School: an invite-only program for entrepreneurs to learn from leading experts at the fastest growing software companies through a series of talks and office hours
    • “Once you start teaching then you start advising, once you start advising and you have some equity in companies it makes sense to start angel investing” Brianne Kimmel

Being An Angel Investor

  • Brianna connected with Helena Hambrecht, the founder of Haus, even before Helena launched Haus
    • “I just started sending her names of cool people I met and interesting people“ – Brianne Kimmel
      • Brianna became an angel investor in Haus; James is also an investor in it
  • What does Brianne seeks in founders when investing?
    • Someone who has built great consumer products
    • Someone who understands the end-user
      • It’s also great to have two cofounders where one is the disruptor and the other has domain expertise
  • When investing in companies, Brianne looks for:
    • Companies with high-margins and a subscription-model
  • Brianna has made 25 investments
  • Equity investing is much different from other asset classes:
    • It’s very relationship-based
    • It’s highly anecdotal
      • “Equity is ownership and ownership is responsibility” – Brianne Kimmel
        • When you have equity, you make a commitment to help that company and you’re partly responsible for that company to become successful 

More Investor Advice

  • “If you want to find investors, especially if you want to find great investors, deserve great investors”James Beshara
    • Be thoughtful about the product, distribution, your vision, your competitive advantage, etc.
  • To be an investor for the long-run, you have to be interested in a lot of different areas 
  • “Founders should really find founder-partner fit. I think there are just different styles of relationships, there are different styles of company building.”Brianne Kimmel
    • If you’re a founder, look at the companies the angel investors and VCs have previously invested in to see if they’re a good match for you
  • Don’t be too concerned with check size as a young angel investor. You want to get into deals and show your worth so that you can build up your track record.
    • “I often encourage people who are thinking of building a track record as an angel to not be concerned with check size and just like prove your worth and get in” Brianne Kimmel
      • It took James 7-years to build a positive reputation as an investor  
        • Why does it take so long? It can take 5 years or more for a company to become successful and signal that you made a good investment
          • “It takes quite a while for many of the best companies to ripen”James Beshara
  • Angel investing is similar to dating:
    • You have to court the relationship, put in the time, build the relationship, and add value
  • As an investor, you want to build trust with the founder and let them know that they can call you for help when they need it
    • “You have established trust where you have the ability  to have daily phone calls…where things go wrong, someone can call you immediately” Brianne Kimmel
  • When you create a fund, you create an identity for what you believe and invest in
    • Brianne’s fund is called WorkLife, they focus on investing in companies that are building the future of work
  • As an investor, be careful of favoring one company over another

Advice For Founders

  • You can scale a family business by disrupting the supply chain, using great software, and thinking of the business as a start-up
  • “There’s so much power in building something for yourself” Brianne Kimmel
    • If you need to learn how to code or use Webflow to build the version one of your product, go for it 
      • Keep going and keep building; if you need capital, take consulting gigs on the side
        • “I just think there’s so much to be said for having that vision and investors will come when they’re ready” 
  • Investors don’t enjoy passing on investments 
    • Brianne likes to keep the door open with founders she’s passed on and will try to give them advice if they call her
      • “As a helpful friend and not someone on the cap table you can have some really honest discussion behind the scenes” – Brianne Kimmel
        • A VC’s “No” doesn’t last forever. Investors can pass on your company early on but that same investor could invest later
  • Contrary to belief, investors are looking for investments that aren’t risky. They want to know your company is a rocket that’s going to take off with or without them so they better hop on before it’s too late.
    • “They probably don’t need my help but that thing is going to be a juggernaut whether I jump in or not so I better jump in quickly” – James Beshara

Additional Notes

  • To learn about company culture, Brianne recommends reading books by Ben Horowitz and Eric Schmidt 
  • To learn about investing, Brianne reads books by Howard Marks and Charlie Munger
  • With more no-code tools being developed, it makes it possible for a non-tech people, such as designers, to start and build a billion-dollar company
  • COVID is the perfect time to learn new skills or try to switch careers
    • “Now is the time for career jumpers” – Brianna Kimmel
Below the Line : , , , ,
Notes By Alex Wiec

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