Saturday, April 25, 2015

Angel Profiles: Jeff Park

What attracted you to exploring angel investing?
For two reasons - one more personal, the second more financial.  Personally, the startup process that a team goes through from having an idea to a finished product to the success or failure of that product  has always intrigued me.  And angel investing provides an in depth mean of examining the various strategies of multiple startups from the due diligence process. 
From a financial viewpoint, while angel investing is a considerably riskier form of investment than some of the conventional alternatives (i.e. stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.), I believe it indirectly benefits my other non angel investments from a wealth management standpoint.  By examining and learning from how a startup operates - dealing with competition, quality of the founders, pricing, customer acquisition, market validation, etc it provides the angel investor a new set of tools and a different perspective to make better informed decisions about their own alternative investments.   

If you’re still angel investing, where do you find most of the companies?
In the past primarily from trusted syndicates on AngelList and also from local Angel Investing groups.  Once in awhile I will participate in a Startup Weekend or Hackathon to get a better idea and understanding of those potentially looking into joining the startup community.  Often times, the best ideas are from those with no tech experience but an expertise in a traditional business model that tech has yet fully integrate into. 

If you’re not still angel investing, why did you decide to get out of angel investing?
Recently decided to do my own startup.  What better way to learn about angel investing other than actually going through the same process that the investments that we make in experience. 

What are the top three things you look for in companies where you invest?
In order of importance 
1.) Ability of the founders to consistently out execute the competition.  
2.) Is the product with the wind or against.  While timing and trends are impossible to predict, better to play the odds  
3.) Is this a slight moderate iteration of an already existing solution or a massive alternative?

How did you incorporate angel investing into your overall portfolio?
As a relatively new and inexperienced angel investor, I treat it more as an expensive hobby until I gain more experience and knowledge.  Therefore, a very small percentage of my overall portfolio is based on angel investments.  Mistakes and poor choices are inevitable in any new venture, so might as well learn from them as cheaply as possible. 

What have you learned since you started angel investing?
One, that no matter how great the idea or how big the market is, it is  basically worthless without a strong team to actually execute on it.  Two, that the devil is truly in the details.   

What do you wish you would have known before you started angel investing?
Up to this point nothing yet as my single expectation when I started angel investing was to learn anything new whether good or bad and to make small manageable mistakes.  The desire of having a predetermined set of knowledge before the experience would run counter to my personal purpose to make and learn from new mistakes. 

What space are you most interested to invest in next?
I try to stick with spaces that I have some general knowledge and expertise which helps avoid the huge learning curve of not only learning about the market but also trying uncovering its unique problems.  This also allows for an overall higher quality of due diligence by focusing on the other important aspects of the startup other than the actual market it is in. 

What resources should entrepreneurs and angels use to learn more?
Depends at which stage the entrepreneur/angel is at and what their purpose is.  Personally I don’t think there is single resource or set of resources that would be a quick efficient hack.  It’s not a simple magic bullet answer but I would say read as many various resources as possible - articles, books, blogs, etc and gradually build up your base of knowledge and then extrapolate key lessons that are specific and personal to your purpose as an entrepreneur/angel.