Energized from the ACA Summit

Yvonne Campos Shares Her Experiences at Last Week's ACA Summit

Last week I had the fabulous opportunity to attend my first Angel Capital Association (ACA) Summit. Angels from around the country, and even the world flew to San Francisco for three days in support of this year's theme "Navigating Change with New Ideas and Enduring Best Practices." Whew. What a great chance for Next Act Fund (and me) to learn and be inspired by the best.

The ACA is the professional association for angel investors. It has individual angels, funds like Next Act Fund and groups that are networks like BlueTree, so I got to meet a wide variety of angels. I was happy to see that about a quarter of the attendees were women. It's quite a collaborative environment. Everyone was sincerely open and welcoming.

New Numbers Reported

The ACA presented some data from the HALO report which analyzes angel data. We learned a few interesting points. Looking at over 1000 angels,

  • 20% are women
  • 41% are in an angel group
  • 70% invest through angel groups
  • 7-15: average number of companies angels invest in/year
  • $25-35K: average individual investment

Running an Angel Group

One of my top interests was to gather ideas about how to help run Next Act Fund.

I learned entrepreneurs have two common frustrations: 1) the investment cycle is longer than they want 2) they don't get the mentoring that had been promised with their investments. A number of groups are working to address these concerns, and we're also going to keep them in mind as we refine our program.

I was surprised to learn that most funds have an annual fee of $2500 (vs. our $1000) and that most have a paid executive director.  The Halo report also showed a growing trend for syndication, or angels who get together in a funding round. Next Act Fund has always expected to syndicate, but it's helpful to understand that it's a growing trend. One benefit of going to the ACA is now I've begun to meet these other leaders, so it'll facilitate the process when we choose to syndicate a deal.

Women Angels and Entrepreneurs

Slowly more angels and more women-led companies are getting funding. Even so, we see a need to build more of a critical mass connecting these entrepreneurs and investors. People agree that many women still don't think about becoming angels even though they have the resources. I think that's true in the Pittsburgh market, and it's a missed opportunity that Next Act Fund is trying to address.

On the company side, one interesting fact is that women generally ask for less money, so they get fewer dollars. Additionally, people are beginning to question if women need to pitch the same way men do. One angel suggested trying for a more collaborative approach, more "Dolphin Tank" than "Shark Tank."

I've so many more thoughts and inspirations coming out of this summit. I've now met leaders at the national and international level, have learned about some great ACA resources we can leverage and have ideas for building even better group engagement to make Next Act Fund an even more compelling resource for women investors and entrepreneurs.

I'm already looking forward to next year's spring summit in Boston. All Next Act Fund members are encouraged to attend. We'll share the date as soon as it is announced!