On Tuesday at TechCrunch Disrupt New York, Josh Constine – a journalist for TechCrunch – had a chat with David Lee and Brian Pokorny. Lee and Pokorny are Co-founders and Managing Partners at SV Angel, a San Francisco based Angel Investor firm. The chat covered a huge range of topics, and shed a little light on what sort of things that SV Angel looks for when investing. Also, the the two Angel Investors announced a new project.
Traits and Characteristics That Angels Look for
This is fairly broad as Lee and Pokorny went into both individual traits of founders, as well as company traits. Though neither of the two could point to any one or two factors as being indicative of success, there was an overwhelming amount of importance placed on the founder or founding team. The Angels noted that more often than not, they invest in the founder, rather than the company. That said, there are several traits and characteristics they look for in founders.
Firstly, Pokorny noted that his approach to investing is to learn as much as possible about the founder: where they are from; what are their friends like; what were they like in school; what led them towards founding the company; what are their strengths and weakness as a person and as a founder. The key, Pokorny argued, is to understand the person. Lee echoed a lot of these points, but added that he likes to see how the founder(s) respond to problems, and how they work under pressure. Lee also added that he asks himself, “Would I work for this person right now? In 5 years?” The great founders, according to the Angels, are really just great managers.
On the other side of the coin, there are a few traits that are instant deal-breakers. The two investors point to ethics as being a major factor. If a founder has made some poor ethical decisions or told a white lie here or there, SV Angels will almost always pass. David Lee ended this part of the discussion with a great quote. “There is a fine line,” Lee sad, “between being shrewd and resourceful and being dishonest.”
As the majority of SV Angel portfolio companies are consumer in nature, Constine asked the investors how Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms has affected their jobs. The answer was kind of surprising. Lee and Pokorny noted that crowdfunding does not pose any real threat to what they are doing, rather it has become a great way to source potential investments. Further, as more and more companies are successfully funded through Kickstarter and others, it has made SV Angel – and the VC industry as a whole – focus on and refine their unique value proposition.
SV Angel and People.co have teamed up to launch a hiring initiative. Hiring is one of the most grueling tasks a company undertakes. To help alleviate the strain that hiring puts of resources – both in terms of time and money – SV Angel and People.co are launching Draft.me. Draft.me is an awesome concept. The idea is based off of the NFL Draft Combine. For a week, the best college football players converge in Indianapolis, for the NFL Combine. During the combine, players are measured in various skills and intelligence tests like the 40 yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, shuttle run, among many others.
Draft.me will take the same approach to hiring tech talent. Talent will be measured through tests, hackathons, coding quizzes and challenges, and ultimately drafted by employers. The Tech Draft will take place on June 30 and July 1 in San Francisco.