Yesterday was one that the other founders and I at Booktrope had been preparing for since September 1st. We have been participating in the Seattle Angel Conference process (their fourth event and investment). If you are not familiar with it, it is a local angel investment group that has a unique investment process and opportunity. Local entrepreneur and angel-investor John Sechrest created the group, with an aim towards encouraging more of the local Seattle scene to consider angel investing and teaching them how to do it. But here is the really interesting part, they learn about angel investing, while actually doing it. You can read more about the group here on their website. Well, the process was certainly worth it for us, because we won! This meant an investment for Booktrope of $205,000.
The investment – of course. Booktrope is indeed a start-up. Getting this investment helps us get further, faster. We are a technology based company (who happens to publish books), and as it turns out, those engineering types like getting a salary versus a percentage of book profits. (Weird, right?)
The process – anytime you go through a process such as this one you get a good and honest look at your business, (as you can imagine given that big check, this required a full due-diligence effort). If you don’t learn from a due diligence effort, you should probably reconsider your role as an entrepreneur. In this case, the process was definitely thorough, some 50 hours on their part and far more on ours. But the angels we worked with made it clear from the start they were on our side, and truly wanted us to succeed. In fact, it was the most pleasant version of this experience I have had as an entrepreneur, despite the hours required!
The community – Seattle is a wonderful community for start-ups. This particular group has a mission we really believe in, which is to take an active approach to growing that community. By helping angels get their start in angel investing, and at the same time making a significant investment in a start-up (or two, as in this case), the process is truly a win-win all around. More investors, means more start-ups given the chance to succeed. That in turn means more investors. Sort of an entrepreneurial cycle of life, if you will.
The people – as part of the process, we came to know the investors quite well, in particular the team taking on our due diligence. Angel investors are usually people who have been entrepreneurs themselves. The wealth of their knowledge is often worth their weight in gold; and as you can imagine, when they invest in your company they want to help you in any way they can to make sure you succeed. This particular group numbered 37 individuals. Can you imagine 37 people you can go to and ask questions should you need their particular area of expertise when you are starting a business? Yep, gold.
The word-of-mouth – as a newer company, getting press is always important. How will people know who we are otherwise? You can see two pieces from today’s press – one in Geekwire here and one in Techflash here. In addition to articles like these we have had great response via Twitter and Facebook and met a lot of fantastic folks passionate about what we are doing at the event itself. This not only helps the corporate marketing effort, but that of all our books and authors.
Huge huge thanks to the folks who organized the event and run the Seattle Angel Conference, John Sechrest and Brad Carpenter in particular, for their insane level of effort. And really, we could not have won without the tireless efforts of our due diligence team headed up by Srini Raghavan.
I also want to mention the other companies who made the finals yesterday. It was truly an honor to be in the running with them, and I feel we all genuinely respected one another. In a twist for this group, there was so much interest (and resulting investment) that they decided to award a secondary investment to one of the other finalists. That company was LaserMotive, a Seattle start-up delivering electricity via light (lasers) to critical assets; they won a secondary deal of $55,000.
Here were the other four finalists:
- Discuss.IO, offering simple market research, connecting companies to panelists
- Suncrest using advanced hydroponics to grow and market local lettuce year round
- graZie Mobile, providing bar and restaurant apps that entice and incentive customer engagement
- Homeschool Technical Apparel, creating the most durable highly breathable outerwear to keep you warm and dry.
To my fellow Seattle entrepreneurs, if you are trying to decide whether to participate in the next event by this group, I would highly recommend it.