Angel Investing (7)

Manny Fernandez is the CEO/Co-Founder of DreamFunded and Founder of SF Angels Group.

Manny was SF Angel of the Year and he has also been named “Top 100 Angel Investors to Follow”.

Manny went from being a serial entrepreneur to becoming a successful investor who has raised millions of dollars.

At our Lifograph event he shared with us the following 10 tips for raising money on AngelList.

1. Start with people who know you

This can include family and friends whom you know. Tell them about what you are doing, and ask them to support you.


2. Increase your followers on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter

Make sure you have professional profiles and actively seek new followers.


3. Increase your followers on AngelList

A great way for increasing your followers is to follow other people, who may follow you back.


4. Follow other investors on AngelList

When you follow other investors you have a better chance to get your startup noticed.

5. Create great fundraising materials

Money follows leadership, and the best leaders know how to tell great stories. So become a good storyteller and connect with investors at an emotional level. Don’t forget to include information about your startup’s traction.

6. Have a great video

This can be a simple video that speaks to what people care about. Talk to people’s emotions.

7. Ask for small dollar amounts

Smaller amounts will not be intimidating and the numbers will add up.


8. Figure out who can introduce you to investors

Invest time in finding the right people to make warm introductions to the investors you are targeting. Lifograph could become a great tool for finding who might be the right person for an intro.

9. Find a lead investor

People follow the leader, and if you can get a big name investor to invest in you, other investors may be interested in your startup too.


10. Believe in your ability to raise money

Sometimes founders doubt themselves and their startup's ability to raise money. Believe in yourself. Confidence pays off. Be a leader and the investors (and their money) will follow you.

Money follows leadership, and the best leaders know how to tell great stories.

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In this post Dea WilsonLifograph founder, is doing an interview with Randy Williams, Founder and CEO of the Keiretsu Forum, a network of 1000+ accredited investors organized in 26 chapters on 3 continents.


To follow Randy’s timeline and see how you might be connected to him join Lifograph - The Wiki of People.

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If any of your children decided to become an angel investor, what is the first piece of advice you’d give them?

Go slowly. Don’t rush. Learn about the industry first. Invest in an area you know something about and help the company grow with resources and TLC.

What advice would you give to a first time entrepreneur?

Never give up! Be malleable, learn from your mistakes.

Give me 3 things people don’t know about you.

-          I hold the Alcatraz swim record since 1993

-          I love plants and nature, so I created an Ethnobotany class at UC Berkeley

-          I’ve been swimming every day for the last 30 years

What was your first job? What did you learn from it?

I have been working every summer from an early age. I delivered papers, coached swimming, washed dishes at the cafeteria, I was a lifeguard, you name it. I’ve learned that good work ethic will take you a long way.

What companies did you pass on and later regretted it?

Clarisonic. They recently returned a 13x on our original member investment. I knew I passed on a great company when my wife asked for a Clarisonic brush.

What is an immediate turnoff in a pitch? Why?

I bet on the jockey, so someone who comes in with a big ego, is not receptive, coachable or flexible, will never get a second meeting with me. Also, if you don’t have some sort of skin in the game, it does not inspire me to invest in your company.

What do you like to do for fun?

I love nature and being outside, so golfing, hiking and swimming are several of my favorite activities.

Where do you like to go on vacation?

I love water, so our family vacations are mostly in Hawaii and Lake Tahoe.

What is a perfect day for you?

A perfect day is when I can have a nice, engaging conversation with a Keiretsu Forum member or a potential member. We have over 1000 members organized in 26 chapters on 3 continents. I walked with almost all members at least once.

What are the values the Keiretsu Forum lives by?

Engagement and participation. Our members enjoy getting involved and helping the companies we invest in. Most members have had successful careers and now they want to give back by helping others succeed.


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Ron Weissman is an angel investor at Band of Angels, one of the oldest angel groups in the country with over 150 members.

He currently sits on the boards of many tech companies, as well as on the Board of Directors of VC Taskforce.

Ron was the inaugural speaker at Lifograph University, an educational program that trains Lifographers, i.e. content curators at Lifograph.

Towards the end of his speech, Ron, well known for his acute sense of humor, made a shocking statement:

“I only invest in DUMB companies”.

After enjoying the bewildered look on the audience faces, he elaborated on what he meant by ‘DUMB’:


Why I Invest in DUMB companies

1. (D) - Dominate

I invest in companies that aim to completely own their market segment or industry. Strive to be number 1 or 2 in the market. Everybody else gets lost in the clutter.

2. (U) - Unusual

I invest in the types of startups which have products that are not just better, but TEN times better than the competition. To succeed you need to be many orders of magnitude better in your market.

3. (M) - Metrics

I invest in founders who can back up their hypotheses with factual, verifiable data. Data takes out the guess work and provides clarity.

4. (B) - Business

I invest in entrepreneurs who get excited about the financial aspects of their idea, not just the technology side. It is not enough to build a cool products. You need to have a clear monetization plan.

After his explanation the audience heaved a massive, collective sigh of relief.

And that night, the startup entrepreneurs left the room thinking about how they could build DUMB companies…

To succeed you need to be many orders of magnitude better in your market.

Adapted from an original blog written by Eli Angote, graduating Lifographer and founder of

To follow Ron’s timeline and see how you might be connected to him join Lifograph - The Wiki of People.

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In this post Dea WilsonLifograph founder, is doing a quick-fire interview with Ron Weissman, investor at the Band of Angels (150+ members) and VC at Apex Partners

Ron has invested in or advised more than 60 companies and has served on more than 25 Boards.  

He currently is Chairman of the Software Special Interest Group of the Band of Angels and also manages their Mentorship programs. 

To follow Ron’s timeline and see how you might be connected to him join Lifograph - The Wiki of People.

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What tips would you give an entrepreneur looking for funding?

- Know your market 'in your bones'

- Be pragmatic and have a realistic business plan

- Have a great partnership DNA and a passion for customer success

- Be yourself: let investors get to know the person you really are. We're going to have to work closely over many years with you, not with your public persona.

What are the most important traits an entrepreneur needs to have?

Intelligence, domain depth, decency, honesty, tolerance for risk, great sense of people, common sense, pragmatism.

What is the craziest idea someone pitched to you?

Nancy Reagan's astrologer pitched a plan for a best of breed astrology website.

A PC system designed to promote eco-awareness, with a CPU shaped like a whale and a mouse shaped like a dolphin.

What would you consider the biggest mistake you’ve ever made?

There are so many, that it is too hard to single out just one. But I'll try.

At NeXT, we were getting ready for a product launch. And in a 'Steve Jobs company', a product launch is the closest thing imaginable to a religious event. "Product Intros" at NeXT were as special to us as Witchcraft Trials were to Salem.  One of my teammates begged me to spend time with a guy in the lobby waiting to meet me. My colleague, David, said that he'd just seen something revolutionary. I was highly distracted, since "Intro" was tomorrow.

I met a shy, soft-spoken bespectacled guy, from the Swiss lab, CERN, who demoed a hypertext system running on NeXT. When you clicked on a proper noun, it took you to another document elsewhere on the network. I thought it was cool, but needed to get back to Intro planning.

I had failed to recognize the genius of Tim Berners-Lee, who was at NeXT to offer us the keys to what would become the World Wide Web.

Moral: Never be too distracted to consider a great idea.

What non-profits do you support and why?

I love excellence and the arts. So I gravitate towards organizations with those ends:

- San Franciso Opera - one of the world's best opera companies in a very complex, inherently multi-varied (poetry, music, dance, drama) art form

- San Francisco Classical Voice - the go-to community website for serious music in Northern California

- The University of Pennsylvania (where I did not go to school) Library - a center for excellence in all things related to the serious exploration of information, online and offline

What is something people will find surprising about you?

My politics. Most people would be surprised at my politics, thinking that I must be from the East Coast and from a Left-Progressive tradition. In fact, my roots are in California (my family was here before the 1906 earthquake)--and my politics couldn't be further from those of a New England progressive.

I remain an optimistic believer in the power of free people, free markets and free minds.

I champion limited government, individual autonomy and personal freedom in as many aspects of life (political, social, interpersonal, moral) as possible. I really have no interest in running your life, and expect the same courtesy from you. (And, no, I don't care who you sleep with or whom you marry).

What would you consider to be your most significant accomplishment?

My most significant accomplishment? No question: my daughter, Julia.  Nothing I've done comes close.  A brilliant, funny, well rounded person---and a gifted poet turned corporate lawyer. But, then again, I'm not sure how much of this I can take any credit for. She's pretty much done it all herself.  Maybe, at least, I contributed a small bit to her self-confidence or her sense of humor.

What is your investment philosophy?

I care about two things, above all else, assuming the basics are also there (like a great team, blah, blah, big market, blah, and the rest of the VC catechism):

A) Is this a company that matters? Are they solving a worthwhile problem? Do they do something important? Would the world be a lesser place if this company did not succeed?

B) If this IS a company that matters, does this team have and can it execute a world domination strategy? Do I believe this team and this company can become number one, two or three in their market? Only the Gold, Silver or Bronze companies get to IPO or have a big M&A outcome, or partner with market makers.  Everyone else can go home.   If you're not backing a company with world domination DNA, why bother?

What advice would you give to a first time entrepreneur?

Surround yourself with great people; build your first company by getting close to customers and really satisfying their needs; be flexible and pragmatic- avoid grand academic theories or faith-based theories of how the world or your business "must" work.

What is the hardest thing about being an angel investor/VC?

The temptation for newly minted angels is to fall in love with a company's story or product.  One has to remember not to confuse a great story with a great product, or a great product with a great business or a great business with a great investment. Too many angels, particularly those from a technical or product background 'go native' and lose perspective, once they become captivated by the story.  It is the boring stuff - the go to market plan, the unfair business advantages, the financials, the returns analysis - that often separate a good idea from a good investment.

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In this post Dea WilsonLifograph founder, is doing a quick-fire interview with Ron Weissman, investor at the Band of Angels (150+ members) and VC at Apex Partners

Ron has invested in or advised more than 60 companies and has served on more than 25 Boards.  

He currently is Chairman of the Software Special Interest Group of the Band of Angels and also manages their Mentorship programs. 

To follow Ron’s timeline and see how you might be connected to him join Lifograph - The Wiki of People.

FREE signup:


What sparks your immediate interest when listening to a pitch? Why?

-Customers!  Having customers or real partnerships communicates to me that someone besides the CEO's mom cares about what the company is doing and this is evidence that they're creating real value for someone. Once you have customers, you're no longer an idea, but a real company.

-What also excites me is genuine market understanding: when I learn something new from the CEO that I didn't know before. I really respect someone who communicates a business insight that teaches me something fundamental about a market or a technology.

List 3 things people don’t know about you

  1. I am an expert in European history, with a specialty in the Italian Renaissance
  2. I have been mistaken, twice, for Francis Ford Coppola
  3. I am an avid photographer

Perhaps my love of things Italian, coupled with photography helped make the Francis Ford Coppola connection.

What was your first job? What did you learn from it?

My first job was a European historian at the University of Maryland.

I learned how to translate and communicate complex ideas for a broad audience. And given an inherent multidisciplinary bent - my grad school work was in history, anthropology and quantitative methods - I learned how to learn new domains relatively quickly and I learned to work both with folks with a scientific and with a more humanistic bent.

That's one reason why I was attracted to Steve Jobs' vision that next generation computing could live at the intersection of the sciences and the humanities.

Who were your mentors? How did they help you become who you are?

- My father, Arthur Weissman, (one of Kaiser's early executives and a thought leader in health economics), was a wonderful role model (and an ideal father). He taught by example how to deal with the world compassionately and how to manage tough business and 'people' decisions creatively.  He was the most humane, caring and intelligent person I have ever met.  And I find it ironic that many years after my father's death, I am returning to the field he pioneered - health economics - as a primary investment focus.

- Hannah Holborn Gray - who recently retired as President of the University of Chicago, was a role model and fueled my interest in becoming an historian when she was a visiting professor at UC Berkeley. Working with her changed the direction of my life. Brilliant and eloquent and having take-no-prisoners standards.

- Steve Jobs - was an extremely important mentor and boss for me; was an extremely important mentor and boss; he taught me much about motivation, but even more, about having a no-compromise view of individual, product, team and company excellence.

- Paul Vais - my colleague at NeXT and, years later, my recruiting partner (since retired to become a wine maker) at my VC firm. Paul worked hard to attempt to instill practical wisdom about investing and tried (without much success) to overcome my worst instincts. A great colleague and friend and a really good mentor.

I am sure I have disappointed each of my mentors, but my failings are not their fault.

What do you like to do for fun?

Invest. Mentor. Read. Listen to Opera. Meet interesting people and shoot them (with a camera).

If you were not a VC, what would you have been?

I've had seven careers and could do lots of things. I could, obviously, have stayed in high tech or the university. But for something radically different, I might also have gone into AI or computer graphics or have become a political pundit, as I have been passionate about politics since high school.

What is an immediate turnoff in a pitch? Why?

- Arrogance

- Not understanding the VC world

- Belief that their company or product is completely unique or lacks competition

- General cluelessness about the business world

- Focusing on where the CEO went to college

- Idealistic attachment to theoretical models- "This will succeed because it has to succeed; it is just so logical that it has to work." Why do I discount idealists? The real world has a nasty way of confounding theory. Models are fine as starting points, but to rigidly adhere to them invites failure. One example of this is techno-idealism. ("This product is so great that it will sell itself. Once seen, it is irresistible!") Why? Products rarely sell themselves without awesome sales, marketing and business development.

- Any 'me-too' deal, particularly anything social/local/mobile.  Why? Overcrowded sectors -- game over. Too little market share, too much buyer confusion, too little chance of success. And in most cases, these are companies that simply don't matter. They aren't solving an important problem.

- Hipster CEOs. Why? Their arrogance is only matched by their real-world cluelessness. Great CEOs are often self-effacing rather than self-aggrandizing. And hipsters care too much about fads and 'what's hot' to focus on things of real substance.  The only folks worse than hipster CEOs are hipster VCs and hipster angels.

- Confusing a product plan with a business plan.  Why? We invest in businesses; we buy products. Investing and buying are different spheres.

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Dea WilsonLifograph founder, is interviewing Manny Fernandez, angel investor at SF Angels and founder of DreamFunded, an equity crowdfunding platform. Manny is also one of the top investors on AngelList.

To follow Manny’s timeline and see how you might be connected to him join Lifograph - The Wiki of People.

FREE signup:

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Dea WilsonLifograph founder, is interviewing David Koehn, Chief Evangelist at Oracle Cloud, investor at Sand Hill Angels and founder of Batchery Accelerator.

To follow David’s timeline and see how you might be connected to him join Lifograph - The Wiki of People.

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