Angel Investing is not as Risky as you Think.

It’s a common misconception that angel investing and venture capital is extremely risky.

But when best practices for investing are followed, tax breaks and portfolio returns can consistently outpace even the best mutual funds.  If you’re wondering how this can be true – read on!

Angel investing involves capital investments by accredited investors (people with a net worth of $1 million or more excluding the value of their primary residence, or with income of $200,000 or more per year/ $300,000 for a married couple).  These investments are in startups, usually with less than $1 million in revenue and less than five years old.  These startups have high growth potential and angel investors look to invest in companies that have a believable plan to be able to return 10X their investment or more within five years.  

Yes, some of these companies will fail, but let’s compare two investors.  The first one, Freddy Frugal, invests all of his money in mutual funds yielding a healthy 8% return. The second one, Andy Angel, invests his money in ten startups.  Both investors hold their investments for five years.  Let’s look at  their returns.

Freddy’s returns are 8%, but he must withdraw $2,640 in the first year, and more each year to pay taxes, so the compounding is based on his after tax returns each year.  After Freddy pays his taxes, his actual return is less than 5.93%.  Not bad, given the relative lower risk of a mutual fund and the liquidity it provides when funds are needed.

Freddy Frugal – $100,00 at 8% compounding
Year Investment Returns Failures Taxes Returns After Tax Portfolio Value After Tax
Initial Investment $100,000 -100000 -$100,000 $100,000
1 0 $8,000 0 $2,640 $5,360 $105,360
2 0 $8,429 0 $2,782 $5,647 $111,007
3 0 $8,881 0 $2,931 $5,950 $116,957
4 0 $9,357 0 $3,088 $6,269 $123,226
5 0 $9,858 0 $3,253 $6,605 $129,831
Total $44,524 $14,693 $29,831 $129,831
IRR Before Tax 8.83% $144,524
IRR After Tax 5.93% $129,831

 

Andy’s returns are a bit more complicated.  

First of all, because Andy is investing in a Colorado company he is eligible for state investment tax credits of 25%.  (many other states have similar credit programs)  This means that he gets $25,000 back immediately from the state government, so he actually has only $75,000 of his capital at risk.   We’ve shown this below by adding the $25,000 cash returned by the state to the value of his portfolio.

Also, Andy’s returns for his portfolio match the HALO report of thousands of Angel investing deals reported, so in the second, third and fourth years one company totally fails each year, resulting in a complete loss of investment and another is liquidated and returns $.50 on the dollar.  This results in a tax loss of $15,000 each year which he can take accelerated write offs against ordinary income thanks to IRS Code Section 1244.  This results in a cash benefit to Andy each of these years in the form of reduced taxes which we’ve calculated at $4,500 per year.

In the fifth year, the remaining four companies have exits ranging between four and ten times the initial investment amount, resulting in a $295,000 positive cash flow.  Because Andy made equity investments in early stage C-Corporate startups and held the investment for five years, he is entitled to a 100% long term capital gains tax exemption thanks to IRS Code Section 1202, so his tax bill for that year is zero.

 

Andy Angel – $100,000 in ten startups at $10,000 each
Year Investment Returns Failures Taxes Returns After Tax Portfolio Value After Tax
Initial Investment $100,000 $25,000 $25,000 $125,000
1 $0 $0 0 $0 $0 $125,000
2 $0 $0 1.5 -$4,500 $4,500 $114,500
3 $0 $0 1.5 -$4,500 $4,500 $104,000
4 $0 $0 1.5 -$4,500 $4,500 $93,500
5 $0 $295,000 0 $0 $295,000 $333,500
Total $320,000 -$13,500 $333,500 $333,500
IRR Before Tax 31.5% $333,500
IRR After Tax 31.5% $333,500

 

There is a lot of mythology about how many startups fail on average.

So, how risky was Andy’s Investment?

The statistics about how many startups fail on average can be deceiving.  Many of those statistics come from the SBA or local Secretaries of State who report failures of hair salons, restaurants and lawn mowing services along with other companies.  But, companies that receive venture capital investment have to reach a higher bar than just registering with the state.  They need to have gained significant traction and have gone through a lot of due diligence and had to jump the hurdle of convincing dozens of angel investors to write a check.  These companies are far less likely to fail than the general population of company formations.  In fact, HALO report data shows that about 52% of these companies will return less than $1.00 for each dollar invested.  Of that 52%, about 18% will be complete failures.  So, we’ve been a little hard on Andy Angel and had him with three total losses and three returns of less than a dollar.  On the upside, we’ve also been a bit conservative.  About 5% of venture backed startups will return 30X or greater, and there’s a good distribution of returns between 10X and 4X.   These winners more than pay for the losers.

Andy’s key to success was that he diversified his portfolio into ten investments.  Smart angel investors know the value of spreading out the risk so that the winners can more than offset the losers.

Another point to observe is that we’ve valued Andy’s portfolio at the value of the investment only until the returns came in.  Despite that conservative accounting, he barely dipped below his $100,000 investment amount in year four with a portfolio value of $93,500.  This means that if the four remaining companies had returned only 1X, his loss would have been limited to $6,500.  

But, his returns were a more typical 3X over the portfolio, resulting in a return of $295,000.  We can add in the $25,000 state tax credit and his $13,500 in accelerated write-offs  from the $45,000 loss, and his net cash return AFTER TAX is $333,500.

Andy was hardly more at risk than Freddy, and yet the internal rate of return on his investment was more than FIVE TIMES GREATER.

So, who is the smarter investor?  Freddy Frugal with a 5.93% after tax return or Andy Angel with his 31.8% return and $333,500 in cash after five years?  Angel investors have figured out how the system works and have been profiting handsomely from it for some time.  Accredited Investors should consider contacting their local angel group, preferably groups that are members of the Angel Capital Association, like Rockies Venture Club, and consider membership so that they can benefit from great deal flow, a community of smart investors, group negotiation and high quality due diligence.  

Visit www.rockiesventureclub.org to learn more.

 

Peter Adams

Managing Director, Rockies Venture Fund I, LP
Executive Director, Rockies Venture Club, Inc.
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Can Women be Angel Investors?

Women make up the fastest growing community of angel investors and it’s changing the face of Angel Capital for the better.

Angel groups like Rockies Venture Club have been beating national averages for investing in women and minority led companies with 54% of our portfolio consisting of women and minority led companies vs a national average of just 14%.  But in order to balance the ecosystem it’s important not just to invest in women led companies, but to engage women angels who can help mentor startups and who can gain experience serving on the board of directors of some of the startups they invest in, thus paving the way for increasing the number of women on corporate boards at all levels.

Research shows that companies with women on boards out perform those with no or few women.  Companies wit

RVC Women Investor Network

h the highest percentages of women on their boards outperform their less diverse peers by 66%.  We have certainly seen these trends in our portfolio companies and are committed to developing further diversity in our community.

We have launched the RVC Women’s Investors Network  (WIN), led by Barbara Bauer.  The network has had several well-attended events that focus on angel education and making connections.  The group is based on four principles that play on women’s strengths:

Engagement: Programs that allow people to work together and share wisdom of crowds to make good decisions and great investments.

Give Back: WIN members have years of business experience and they want to be more than just a check – they like to mentor and coach up and coming companies.

Act From Knowledge: Women like to understand the landscape before they jump in and invest.  No more “fake it until you make it” – that can cost thousands for new angel investors!

Education: Classes, workshops and “get to know an angel” events provide deep venture capital knowledge to get WIN members up and going quickly and confidently.

If you’re interested in engaging with the group, volunteering, or just learning more, consider attending the WIN Luncheon at the Angel Capital Summit, Tuesday March 21 on the DU Campus.

Click HERE to register

If you’re interested in learning more about Angel Investing and Venture Capital, you should definitely attend the full Angel Capital Summit.  Tuesday-Wednesday March 21-22 in Denver.

Click HERE for more information and to sign up.

Want to learn more about Rockies Venture Club?  Check us out at www.rockiesventureclub.org

Top-10 Twitter Action Tips – Don’t Read If You Don’t Get Twitter or Care To

Written by Tom Cross @techtionary

I gave a talk on Twitter at Rockies Venture Club Hyperaccelerator. This is a week-long effort to help startups understand everything they need to do to not fail or at least not fail as fast. I do the Twitter for @rockiesventure which topped 10K (click on image to follow RVC) this week. The reaction from the audience went from skeptical to being annoyed at even the idea. Now I can’t change their hearts and minds about Twitter but maybe, just maybe get them to understand marketing in terms that most of them were male – sports. Coaches of nearly all sports use “playbooks” to guide their team hopefully to victory. There are hundreds of plays like marketing plans, coaches and marketing leaders try as many as they can. Some work though many don’t because the other team (like customers) change their mind, are fickle or just don’t play the way you want them to play. In addition, sports teams like customers change every year or even everyday with new ones being added and old ones retiring changing the game landscape (marketing) in ways no one can understand. One must also realize that any playbook or marketing plan needs to change as often as customers do. In the end, my class was successful from my perspective as like President Trump is doing with Twitter allowing companies to connect directly to their customers and supporters.

easy

not easy

Here is the summary of the slides below –

  • If you still ask “why” Twitter, the answer is both easy and hard.
  • The easy answer is – it is the new way to connect with your customers and provide customer service as they don’t complain by just calling you they increasingly complain via Twitter with the famous hashtag #fail which can go viral.
  • If you think it is just for promoting your corporate blogs and blather, you are likely missing out on how customers really feel about you, this is the hard answer because customers just buy from someone else.

Toms’ Top-10

Use as a guideline but the must-haves are 1-strong thought leadership, 2-stronger calls-to-action and 3-persistent constant delivery.

1 – #1 it is a social network, not a broadcast network, people want to feel listened to not just talked down to.

2 – Write compelling customer-centric “thought leadership” guiding them on ways to improves their lives, not just about your solutions or views.

3 – Write compelling CTA-calls to action to get them to not just listen but act.

4 – Engage-engage and engage more with others not just post your own “selfies” though as often or always add a pic, gif, or video to your post.

5 – Like exercise do it daily and it’s a marathon, not a sprint – no just once and done and certainly not use tools. While stair master can help with exercise, you still have to walk-the-walk yourself.

6 – Lift all boats, helping others helps you.

7 – Cross post on other platforms – realize your customer may be elsewhere.

9 – Integrate all website content and have an overall thoughtful content in all formats and platforms.

9 – Use an EDCAL-editorial calendar to manage and coordinate content over the year.

10 – Remember followers also have followers and so engaged with all.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers or know-it-all. My mom gave me a business card a long time ago and it said, “if you think you know what’s going on, you’re probably full of sh–.” Alas, I do help clients grow their Twitter presence and believe it works it if you work it right like above. Thought leadership, CTA-call-to-action and constant promotion works for Starbucks, McDonald’s and others. Even Google is advertising now as they want to expand their own piece of the swamp.

Here are a few slides from the presentation and click on any for the complete presentation. If you like I will walk you through it or at least answer any question if you email me and we can setup a time to talk on the tele or Skype. I have proven clients and references or if you prefer you can also contact @evankirstel he can help you as well.

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What you need to know about Angel Investor Syndication

There’s a lot to know about angel investing, but the one thing most people miss is how to syndicate a deal.  Almost every angel investment deal in an entrepreneur’s company is a syndication and there’s a lot more to it than just getting a bunch of investors together.   Read more

WORKING WITH INVESTORS: A GUIDE FOR ENTREPRENEURS

The number of angel investors investing in early and mid-stage companies in the U.S. has increased significantly in recent years. So what does it take to raise angel funding today? Peter discusses how entrepreneurs should prepare for this kind of fundraising, what they should expect when a deal goes through, and how to manage ongoing relationships with investors. He also touches on the differences between friends and family money, angel investors, and venture capital funding. Read more