How to get the most out of AngelList: As a VC and as an Entrepreneur

I love AngelList.  I truly believe it is disrupting the way early stage deals are being discovered and funded.

When I was with BlackBerry Partners Fund (now Relay Ventures), I used AngelList to virtually meet and screen tons of companies.  I set up Super Fridays for myself, filling my mornings and/or afternoons with back-to-back 30 minute calls with 10-12 companies.  I really recommend this to any young VC looking for both dealflow and honing their game.  The velocity and juxtaposition of all these entrepreneurs, pitches, and companies really taught me how to evaluate deals along the VC spectrum:

  • (NO) polite and immediate no thank you
  • (NOT YET) check back with traction
  • (NOT SURE) send me your pitch deck so I can another set of eyes on this
  • (POTENTIALLY) let me bring this up at the next Monday partner meeting and see if someone bites
  • (YES) holy moly let me get John Albright right now

All told, I probably screened 150-200 companies every three months on AngelList alone.  Ultimately, after all those Super Fridays, the firm funded two great companies: PubNub and ClearFit.

Now as I sit somewhat on the other side, running Extreme Startups, I am spending time trying to get VCs to view our companies’ AngelList profiles.  To help figure out what companies should be doing on AngelList to help maximize their exposure, we at Extreme Startups recently had a session with Ash Fontana from AngelList to get his advixe.  Ash shared some best practices that I’d like to share with our community.  His advice included a lot of great tips and some common sense details that time-crunched entrepreneurs might glance over.

Company Profiles

  1. Fill it out completely.  All the sections and tabs.  Comprehensive profiles are definitely the best so that there is both pertinent and substantive information.  One good tip is for the Founder Bios – include university info as well as some investors search for key schools.
  2. Be open / generous with information.  Specifically for the Fundraising tab, the Deal Terms should be filled out.  You don’t need to put valuation, but some indication helps investors looking for certain price ranges or structures (convertible note vs. equity).
  3. Use graphics – slides, screenshots, graphs, and videos to make a static page pop.

Key tips to stand out

  • State the most original thing or function your product and company does.
  • Information about the market size is key.
  • Name something extraordinary about your company or founders.
  • State the hardest problem you solve.

How do you get featured?

For those lucky four startups on the feature page on the front page of AngelList, what is the process to get there?  It’s curated by Ash, who uses a number of different tools to track interest and traction.  Note that there are now over 80,000 startups on AngelList, with ~100 getting added every day.  Only five get featured per week – so only top 0.5% have the chance to be featured.  We are lucky to have our alumnus Granify on the feature page!  ShopLocketSimplyUs, and Verelo all have great profiles as well (shameless plug).

So what should you do after your profile is up?

  1. Be active.  It’s a social network.  Start and engage in conversations.  Follow interesting companies, entrepreneurs, and investors.  Comment on people’s status updates.  Refer interesting deals to other people.
  2. Be proactive.  Reach out to investors and advisors.  Ask for referrals and recommendations!
  3. Match your offline activity to your online profile.  Add an advisor or investor?  Make sure you AL profile reflects that.  Have your network post and share your traction and successes online!

Other AngelList resources recently launched

  • AngelList Docs is in beta, but only for US incorporated companies for now.  It’s a great resource to close your deal online, industry standard docs and no legal fees.
  • AngelListTalent recently launched and helps startups recruit, and talent identify great jobs.  It uses a double opt-in structure, so you only get shown the jobs of the companies you follow.  It’s a great resource for recruiting.

Hacking AngelList articles

Lastly, Ash mentioned he loved and supported the hacking AngelList posts.  Somewhat analogous to the black art of gaming the iTunes stores, there are ways to succeed on AngelList outside of what is included in this post.  I just googled and found a couple of hits.  There are the most useful imho.

Final thoughts

I really hope more Canadian companies use and publish on AngelList, Gust, and others.  It’s a great way to get your profile out to Canadian, US, and international investors.  Not to mention its a great way to help entire cities and regions get noticed for great deal flow.  Maybe some young VC down south will start arranging their own Canadian Super Fridays…

Please follow me on AngelList! (and Twitter).

About Andy Yang

Andy is Chief Innovation Hunter at Extreme Startups. Trying to bring Californian hippie love to cold, hard Toronto.

  • http://startupcfo.ca/ Mark MacLeod

    Great post Andy. Will be sharing with the founderfuel teams. Thank you

  • http://twitter.com/andyyangstar Andy Yang

    Thanks Mark!

  • http://www.Spidvid.com/ Jeremy Campbell

    I’m actively on AngelList every week but have yet to see significant traction there, but believe I’ll get a break when we launch our next product this Fall!

    Great post Andy, thanks for writing and publishing it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeffmlawrence Jeff Lawrence

    Great advice Andy, as always! The impact Granify has seen from AngelList has been staggering. It’s led to obvious things such incoming investment interest, but also less obvious things such as partnerships, press requests, customers and job applicants.

  • http://engag.io/ William Mougayar

    I can comment from experience about the value of AngelList having raised our seed round from being there. The Talent service is really good also.

  • http://www.Spidvid.com/ Jeremy Campbell

     Congrats William!

  • http://engag.io/ William Mougayar

    Thanks, but that was last January :)

  • http://www.Spidvid.com/ Jeremy Campbell

     That’s perhaps even more impressive then William, as it was likely harder to raise funding awhile ago on Angel.co when it had less traction/social proof. 

  • http://engag.io/ William Mougayar

    yes and no :) one might argue that it’s more crowded now, therefore it’s more difficult to get attention because there are more choices for everybody.

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  • http://clearfit.com Ben Baldwin | ClearFit

    Great advice, Andy.  I can say, from the entrepreneur’s side (the opposite direction), that you were very effective in gaining our interest and winning our deal vs. another party, using AngeList.  This stuff works both ways.  

  • Philip Poulidis

    Great tips Andy. You’re doing great things for startups in Canada. Keep producing awesome companies!

  • http://www.facebook.com/derrickfung Derrick Fung

    Great article Andy, very helpful stuff!