Monday, May 14, 2007

Investing money and time

An interesting website that I visit www.venturewoods.org has a lot of posts about Angel investing. The usual debates on angel investing Vs. investing in the stock market, providing value in addition to capital etc.

I've been on the periphery of the angel investment / venture capital world and am very closed involved with some of the larger angel investors and VC funds. These posts have made me take some time out to see what my own thoughts would be. Some questions that come to my mind:-
1. Can someone who is an operational executive i.e. with no understanding of the capital markets ever be a good angel investor?
2. Can you improve your odds by investing time in addition to capital? Or is this a very expensive high risk strategy as instead of spending this time here, you could probably spend it more productively figuring out better ways to deploy capital.
3. Should more time be spent on finding ways to deploy capital or post investment in nurturing the investment?
4. How long do you support an entrepreneur who fails to meet targets ? If he is putting in the effort but is unable to show results? How long do you continue to fund what could be his chasing a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow?
5. Considering how the investor coming in post you always ends up being able to bargain better is it worth it being an angel investor as you're bound to lose bottom side protection. This is because fresh capital is always able to dictate conditions.
6. Should you fund companies purely through capital or else through other means - unsecured debt, convertible bonds, real estate contributions - what would be the safest way to participate in early stage equity for a small scale investor (2-3mn USD at disposal) with a view to protect capital.
7. Is it even worth it doing all this angel investment stuff if you are a retired entrepreneur who now is not a Commercially Important Person as opposed to a senior executive in a privileged location who would probably have lesser to contribute in terms of capital but more in terms of relationships.
8. Who are good people to partner with while making these kind of investments?
9. What would be returns at which angel investing would be justified i.e. bank deposits - 10% bonds - 12%, mutual funds - 20% , equities - 25%, private equity - X% , venture capital - Y% , angel investing - Z%??
10. Can companies in India be encouraged to grow fast, acquire merge and scale as they seem to be doing in the western world? How would control be maintained?

Interesting questions. Any answers?

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