I attended the inaugural Open Angel Forum event in Boston last Friday night with a handful of other angel and seed stage investors. There were six companies that presented at the event, some of which I’d previously met with but several were new to me.
I take my hat off to Jason Calacanis and his OAF collaborators for launching the program in 8 cities thus far less than a year after inception. Some things I particularly liked about their approach:
- Cultivated Dealflow - OAF famously doesn’t charge entrepreneurs to pitch, and in fact they started at least in part in reaction to some “pay to play” angel/seed forums. But there’s a handful of interesting, quality startups presenting that have been evaluated by a team of entrepreneurs and investors.
- Short Pitch - Startups have a 5 min pitch/demo and 5 min Q&A, and the OAF team makes them stick to it. It’s ample time to quickly learn what a company is up to and whether you’re interested in hearing more in a follow-up meeting or not.
- Valuation Expectations - Companies have to state how much capital their raising and provide some expectations around valuation. Many other pitch sessions like Y-Combinator and TechStars do the former, but few do the latter. Of course angel participants are asked to keep this info confidential and all things in life are negotiable. But it gives potential angel investors some sense of the investment opportunity itself again so they can independently decide which ones they might pursue.
I know OAF has been successful with these forums in Silicon Valley, New York, and elsewhere. I’m pleased to see them active in Boston and look forward to future events.