I took a rather long break from writing another post for a variety of reasons relating to being disillusioned with angel investing, the rather nasty election season, and I don’t have a lot of readers looking at my blog anyway!
The delay became longer as I thought incorrectly that the country, the SF Bay area, and, indirectly, women angel investors would move on from the results of the election and focus on the future. Obviously this has not happened so as a result, this will be a bit of a ranting post I suppose but absent of fake news and mostly of disappointment and disillusionment.
So here are some observations based on experiences of the last 8 months or so.
- The continued focus by some, not everyone of course, on the fact that Trump was elected instead of Hillary is not productive unless that energy is turned into substantive action that is not donating to yet another Hillary PAC, participating in multiple women’s marches, tweeting and writing letter to the editors. Instead run for a local or state office, fund someone who you believe in who will do that and do not simply reject out of hand opinions of conservatives, republicans, anyone who does not believe that Hillary lost the election due to one or all of the following reasons – James Comey, the Russians, the New York Times, the DNC, Facebook or most of all to misogyny. The latter is the most insidious and damaging as it lets some women believe that one’s lack of success can be attributed solely to that reason rather than one’s own abilities or choices.
- I am so very tired of the trend or emphasis now on not just women as founders but also the focus on founders who represent diversity in both race and gender as if this is somehow related to the value of the startup. A skilled and competent founder/team, a solid business plan or understanding of what makes a successful business should be key. None of that imo links to race or gender.
- As a fairly significant investor in social impact companies, I have been disappointed in the results. Despite words to the contrary, many of these startups are operating more as nonprofits in terms of a business model which is supported by various impact investing groups, or social venture capital funds, as a good alternative in one’s portfolio. e.g. lowered expectation about returns – which is exactly what Paul Brest damned in his essay about the value of impact investments. To be successful, a company needs to make money, and return money to investors. Otherwise it is a hybrid nonprofit. The End.
- The key problem with a lot of my investments through Golden Seeds and on my own is the lack of connections to next step funders – institutional, family office and VCs. GS does not have those connections, nor do I. That is what stops some of the companies I have invested in from growing and building to a point of exit. Connections explain how Theranos was funded without a solid business plan, or any business plan really.