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Use Angel List for customer development...and then raise money. (humbledmba.com)
65 points by jaf12duke on Nov 9, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 17 comments

I actually emailed them explaining my frustation on how the site was really for people who already had connections. It didn't work very well for connecting people that had very little influence or existing connections with investors. They were very honest and admitted:

"Right now, we don't do a great job addressing your situation. That forces some users to make initial contact with investors off-site (LinkedIn is common); we're working on new ways for you to make those initial contacts within AngelList."

If they can solve this problem then I think the platform will really gain mainstream appeal. Otherwise I think it will remain a tool that works well for a small niche of startups.

Couldn't agree with you more. I'm thoroughly frustrated with AngelList.

Tried to introduce my startup/self to people but you can't do anything until you have an investor/advisor on board. It's the classic can't get a job without experience–can't get experience without a job scenario.

I know it's probably not the case, but from the outside AngelList just seems like an online good ole boys club for all these angels that already share deals with each other.

I've even emailed a few advisor/investor types that I met at conferences. It basically comes down to "I only advise and refer people that I already know well"

We built references to help solve this problem. You can get references from anyone and their followers will be notified. You should only ask for references from people you already know well. We ban people who spam investors (or anyone), asking for references. We're also working on other tools to help the disconnected get connected.

Yes. Here's a little bit about our experience with AngelList. We are quite profitable and are doing well growing from our existing cash flow. We are not seeking capital at this time.

We have had profiles on AngelList for a while now, with the expectation that we would "age" the accounts and gradually accumulate interested parties, such that if the day came when we would like to seek additional growth capital, we could then reach out to these people.

Result: Zero followers. Most likely zero views. AngelList is very much a walled garden, useful only to those with preexisting angel connections.

Did you do anything to drive people to your profile, even initially?

Even on the web, where search is more relevant than on discovery driven social networks, it's very hard to capture even small amounts of interest just by creating a site.

So kinda like the real world?

Your investors are not your customers! This is the worst kind of "do-what-gets-funded" thinking.

I love AngelList, but it's proper use is not making sure your startup has enough buzzwords and TechCrunch-influenced positioning to attract investors.

I agree with you, but after reading the article, I don't think the author is saying, "Put your idea on AngelList and if investors don't like it, don't do it." He used AngelList to connect with investors, and he used those investors to connect with actual customers (in his case, landlords, hotel managers, etc). So I don't think he's confusing investors with customers.

I have to agree. I signed up and put as much information as I could about my company, but am now left with an, "Okay, what now?" situation.

We've been banging code for about two years now as a labor of love, and actually have a running system, ready for investment to actually take it out and make something of it. I've been the tech founder a number of times, but this is my first time in the game as both technical lead and business lead, and I'm more than happy to admit that I'm learning as I go.

A site like Angel List would be a great help, because part of taking on investment is also getting experience from the investors. But how do I reach out to them?

And how do I show them what we have without broadcasting it to the world? Because between you and me, what we've built is the kind of thing that I suspect many people would say, "Wow, I can't believe nobody's done that yet!" Sure, the barrier to entry is reasonable, but why give someone else a head start?

Sigh ;)

> And how do I show them what we have without broadcasting it to the world? Because between you and me, what we've built is the kind of thing that I suspect many people would say, "Wow, I can't believe nobody's done that yet!" Sure, the barrier to entry is reasonable, but why give someone else a head start?

Just broadcast it. You're overly concerned with secrecy if you're concerned about it at all.

This is a good quote:

"I tried to go after cold money and make it warm. Instead, I should have gone after warm money and made it hot."

"You don't have to have your advisors ready yet. Set-up your profile as fast as you throw your Launchrock page up."

This strategy won't work for everyone. Angellist actually reviews every new published profiles to determine if your profile is worthy of being syndicated to their angels. This only happens once, when you hit publish.

If you just publish your profile w/ just a name and phone number, you put yourself in a hole where you now have to climb to get out.

So unless you are a "rockstar" and can easily get followers and the likes, I would advise not follow this approach.

AngelList used to be like that but things have changed. =)

Most of the updates that investors receive are determined by who is involved in your company (advisors, investors, references) and the level of interest in your company (follows, intros). If you add people to your company over time, these notifications will still go out. So no need to have the ultimate profile when you publish -- I would still make it great though.

We still review every new startup because our algorithmic updates can't pick up every good startup. So your startup shouldn't look awful when you publish. If it looks promising, we'll ask you to ping us when you've made some progress. And, in any case, you can still ping us.

But I see a problem with this model.

I think the more startups apply, the less value angellist is going to provide to startups and investors. I think, that's pretty obvious. It's quality not quantity. I'm sure for sake of angellist, they want to get more users. But you can't have both, somewhere there has to be a sacrifice to be made.

Honestly, I hope angel list stays small. The more exclusive it gets, the better. I just don't want this place to turn into another myspace that is littered with millions of "me too" startups and profiles no body cares about. Then at which point, no one will take it seriously.

Who is involved? How is this helpful?

My company is myself and about five other developers and designers. Simply put, we kick ass. We have a great idea, have running code, and are, as a labor of love, making it work.

Now that we're thinking funding would accelerate things even more, what the heck can we do? We don't have advisers, we don't have investors and we don't have contacts.

What we have is a great idea and running code (and decades of development experience), something we're not keen to just broadcast to the world and have another well-funded company say, "Yeah, that IS a good idea, thanks!"

What can AngelList do for ME?

It's simple.

This is what they (investors) want you to do.

Come down to S.V., spend some time there (preferably move), and try to party crash into every tech meetups they have to connect and network. Get their business card, and add them as your facebook/linked in friends.

This is how it used to be and this is how it will still be. Angellist doesn't try to solve this one bit, yet I think.

It sounds like it works for those who have some credibility already either from pre-existing connections or an exit.

I seriously doubt that Angel List can maintain its sense of community and still be useful to those who don't possess those pre-existing connections/past successes.

And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. What it does is working for its target market.

This may just be a classic example where another company needs to step in and fulfill the needs of those who don't fit the Angel List target market profile. Given the comments here I definitely think there's a market opportunity for catering to those who need intros/connections/mentoring etc but don't have the sort of assets the blog author has (pre-existing connections from earlier startups, Ivy League MBA alumni network, etc).

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