Do angels consider a lower downside risk a positive when investing, or do they have an all or nothing mindset?

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JASON LEMKIN

Be careful — because different angels have very different approaches here.

Many Silicon Valley-style angels roughly have a 1-or-2-out-of-50 model. They expect 1 or 2 big hits to cover 48–49 losses and mediocre outcomes.

That’s a tough loss ratio, much worse than any VC firm. It requires them to invest generally at very low valuations, and to get into a high number of potentially exciting deals. Their best deals need to do 100x-200x+ to justify this investment strategy — losing it all on maybe 40, and have 41–48 or so collectively just return the total investment made in the cohort.

And it’s very easy to end up 0-out-of-50.

Outside of Silicon Valley-style investing, angels often make far fewer bets. They may see a winner as 5x, not 100x+. If that’s your model, you can’t lose it all on very many. You need most of them to make at least some money. And you tend to become very worried about each underperforming investment.

As a rough rule, no matter what, try to take no more than 0.5% of the investment capital of an angel. This will eliminate most drama and risk.

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Published on January 23, 2018
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