Why Angel Investors Say No to Entrepreneurs

Angels, or private investors, invest more money in more companies at an earlier stage than venture capitalists. They are the lifeblood for seed and start-up businesses. Why do they say no?

Angels Just Don’t Get It

Entrepreneurs who face rejection by angel investors often blame it on the angels: those investors cannot understand my wonderful technology, or the angels won’t bother to take the time to understand. Some of this is just a means to protect the entrepreneur’s tender ego, but it does point out how there can be critical gaps in communication: an entrepreneur thinks he’s doing a good job explaining the deal, but in fact he’s not getting through at all.

Angel Was The Wrong Audience

Angel investors invest smaller amounts of capital in earlier stage companies than venture capitalists do. They also take more of an interest in the day-to-day management of companies they invest in. Investors aren’t usually interested in investing in life style companies, ie., companies that provide a comfortable life style for the owner, but don’t have expansive growth opportunities. They want to see a company that can reach significant earnings in a short amount of time.

Lack of Preparation by Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs are often guilty, in their eagerness to get started building their company, of seeking out angel investors before they are prepared to present their deal or carry on negotiations. Angel investors often have a great deal of business experience and can ask the kinds of probing, difficult questions that quickly puncture inflated projections or poorly thought out strategies.

ROI/Exit Strategy

Entrepreneurs emphasize bringing capital into the company; investors are quite reasonably interested in getting capital out of the company. Unless the entrepreneur can convince the investor that a lucrative exit is possible within a reasonable time frame, the deal is unlikely to get done.

Management Team

Angel investors invest in the management team of a company. Often there’s only the business plan, at best a prototype product, and no revenues. If the management team is weak or inexperienced, angels are reluctant to invest.

Deficiencies in the Presentation by Entrepreneurs

It is an unpleasant fact that entrepreneurs with good ideas can still miss out on obtaining funding because of poorly prepared business plans, executive summaries, and other presentation materials. A great business plan does not raise capital for a company (you need a great management team as well), but a poor plan sends a signal to investors that the founders may also be sloppy in the way they run the company.

The Concept or the Idea is Flawed

Some ideas have zero chance of getting funded, and that’s just the way it is.

Entrepreneur Was Not Able To “Sell” the Investment

Part of raising capital depends on simple sales skill, and if the founder of the company does not have that skill, he needs to develop it quickly or have someone with that skill assist him with the presentations to investors.

Subjective Factors

The decisions made by angel investors are not cut-and-dried based on analysis that leads to an easily obtained conclusion. Angels operate in an environment where the crystal ball can get extremely cloudy at times, and must rely on their instincts honed through many years of being on the firing line in their own companies.

How to Avoid Hearing ‘no’ from an Angel

1) Spend a lot of time discussing how the management team’s background will lead to growth and profitability for this venture

2) Do not skimp on the time and effort spent on developing and practicing the presentation to angels; Don’t ‘wing it’ with angels

3) Don’t assume everyone can pick up on technical jargon; keep the presentation in layman’s terms as much as possible

4) Test your business model out on experienced business people and obtain their feedback before seeking funding

5) Present alternative ways the investor can exit the deal, when and how.

Brian Hill is the author of several business books including Business Plan Basics, Find out more about angel investors