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Angel Syndicates & the Importance of Building Strong Founder-Investor Relationships

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

As a startup founder, you know how challenging it can be to raise funds for your venture. You need to pitch your idea to multiple investors, negotiate terms, and deal with legal paperwork. But what if there was a way to simplify this process and access more capital from a network of experienced investors?


That’s where angel syndicates come in. Angel syndicates are groups of angel investors who pool their money and expertise to invest in promising startups. They are led by a lead investor who sources and vets the deals and then invites other investors to join the syndicate. By joining an angel syndicate, you can benefit from the collective wisdom, network, and resources of multiple investors who share your vision.


But raising money from angel syndicates is not just about getting a check. It’s also about building strong relationships with your investors, who can become your partners, mentors, and advocates. In this article, we will explore why founder-investor relationships are crucial for the success of your startup, and how angel syndicates can help you foster such relationships.




The role of angel syndicates

Angel syndicates are a relatively new phenomenon in the startup ecosystem, but they have been gaining popularity in recent years. According to AngelList, the leading platform for angel syndicates, there are over 2,000 active syndicates on its site, with over $2 billion invested in over 5,000 startups.


But what exactly are angel syndicates, and what do they do? Angel syndicates are essentially a form of crowdfunding for startups. They allow individual investors to invest smaller amounts of money in startups that they otherwise would not have access to or be able to afford. They also allow startups to raise larger amounts of money from a single source, rather than having to deal with multiple investors.


Angel syndicates are typically led by a lead investor, who is usually an experienced angel investor or a prominent figure in the startup community. The leaders are responsible for finding and evaluating potential deals, negotiating terms with the founders, and managing the syndicate. They also charge a fee or a carried interest (a percentage of the profits) for their services.


The lead investor then invites other investors to join the syndicate. These investors are usually accredited investors (individuals who meet certain income or net worth criteria) or institutional investors (such as venture capital funds or family offices). The investors can choose to participate in the syndicate on a deal-by-deal basis or commit to a certain amount of capital for a period of time.


The members of the syndicate share the risk and reward of the investment. They also share the due diligence, feedback, and support that they provide to the founders. By joining an angel syndicate, investors can diversify their portfolio, access high-quality deals, and leverage the expertise and network of the lead investor and other syndicate members. Here are some popular platforms commonly used by Angel Syndicates: AngelList, Homerun, and SyndicateRoom, among others.


Angel syndicates offer many benefits for startups as well. By raising money from an angel syndicate, you can:


  • Access more capital: It can provide you with more funding than individual investors. For example, according to AngelList data, the average deal size for an angel syndicate is $1.2 million, compared to $300k for an individual angel investor.

  • Save time and effort: Your fundraising process can be simplified by reducing the number of pitches, meetings, and negotiations that you have to do. You only have to deal with one lead investor who represents the interests of the whole syndicate.

  • Gain credibility and exposure: Angel syndicates can boost your reputation and visibility in the startup community by associating you with well-known and respected investors. This can help you attract more customers, partners, talent, and media attention.

  • Receive valuable feedback and support: They can offer you constructive feedback, advice, connections, mentorship, and resources that can help you grow your business.


Building strong founder-investor relationships

While raising money from angel syndicates can be beneficial for your startup, it also comes with certain expectations and responsibilities. As a founder, you need to maintain a good relationship with your investors throughout the lifecycle of your startup. This relationship is based on three key elements: Trust, Alignment, and Support.


Some best practices for aligning with your investors include:

  • Sharing your vision: You should share your vision for your startup with your investors, explaining why you are passionate about solving the problem you are addressing, how you are differentiating yourself from the competition, and what impact you want to create in the world.

  • Defining success: You should define success for your startup with your investors, agreeing on the key performance indicators (KPIs) that you will use to measure your progress and performance, such as revenue, growth, retention, engagement, customer satisfaction, etc.

  • Setting milestones: You should set milestones for your startup with your investors, outlining the specific goals and deliverables that you want to achieve in each stage of your startup journey, such as product development, customer acquisition, fundraising, etc.

  • Updating projections: You should update projections for your startup with your investors, revising your assumptions and forecasts based on the latest data and market conditions. You should also communicate any changes or adjustments that you make to your strategy or plans.

  • Seeking alignment: You should seek alignment with your investors on any major decisions or changes that may affect your startup, such as pivoting, expanding, hiring, firing, partnering, acquiring, etc. You should explain the rationale and benefits of such decisions or changes, and solicit feedback and input from your investors.


Trust and communication

Trust is the foundation of any successful relationship. As a founder, establishing mutual trust with your investors by being honest, transparent, and accountable is crucial. You need to communicate effectively with your investors by keeping them informed of your progress, challenges, and milestones. Besides that, you can listen to their feedback, concerns, and suggestions, and act on them when appropriate.


Effective communication is especially important when you are dealing with a syndicate of investors, rather than a single investor. Let’s ensure that you are communicating consistently and clearly with the lead investor, who is your main point of contact and spokesperson for the syndicate. The key point to get their impression is to respect the preferences and expectations of the other investors in the syndicate, who may have different levels of involvement and interest in your startup.


Some best practices for communicating with your investors include:

  • Sending regular updates: Send your monthly or quarterly updates to your investors, highlighting your achievements, challenges, metrics, and goals. Other kinds of content can be any major news or events that may affect your startup, such as product launches, customer wins, partnerships, hires, or pivots.

  • Asking for feedback: You should solicit feedback from your investors on a regular basis, especially when you are facing important decisions or challenges. Let’s be open to receiving feedback, even if it is critical or uncomfortable. You should acknowledge and appreciate the feedback, and explain how you plan to act on it or why you disagree with it.

  • Scheduling meetings: Schedule regular meetings or calls with your lead investor, as well as occasional meetings or calls with the other investors in the syndicate. These meetings are an opportunity to discuss your progress, challenges, plans, and needs in more detail, and to build rapport and trust with your investors.

  • Being responsive: Respond promptly and professionally to any inquiries or requests from your investors. You should also proactively reach out to your investors when you need their help or advice, or when you have good news or bad news to share.

  • Alignment of goals and expectations

Alignment is another key element of a strong founder-investor relationship. As a founder, you need to:


  • Align your goals and expectations with your investors by identifying shared objectives, managing expectations, and resolving conflicts.

  • Identify shared objectives with your investors by understanding their motivations, interests, and criteria for investing in your startup, which is to ensure that you and your investors are on the same page about your startup’s vision, mission, and values, as well as the milestones, metrics, and timelines you are aiming for.

  • Manage expectations with your investors by setting realistic and achievable goals, and by communicating them clearly and frequently. Moreover, you also have to avoid overpromising or underdelivering your results and be prepared to explain any deviations or delays. The best advice here is don’t try to cover or hide anything, you should be transparent about the risks and uncertainties that you are facing, and how you are mitigating them.

  • Resolve conflicts with your investors by addressing any issues or disagreements that may arise as soon as possible. You need to respect the opinions and perspectives of your investors, even if they differ from yours by listening carefully to their concerns and feedback and trying to find common ground and solutions that work for both parties.


Support and mentorship

Support is the final element of a strong founder-investor relationship. As a founder, receiving support and mentorship from your investors by providing guidance and expertise and creating a supportive environment is absolutely crucial.


The fact is that you can provide guidance and expertise to your investors by leveraging their knowledge, experience, and network to help you grow your business. You need to seek advice and feedback from your investors on various aspects of your startup, such as product development, customer acquisition, marketing, sales, operations, finance, legal, etc. From that, you are able to tap into their network of contacts to access potential customers, partners, talent, media, or other investors.


Moreover, you need to create a supportive environment with your investors by fostering a positive and respectful relationship. You need to appreciate and acknowledge their contributions and express gratitude and recognition for their support. Besides, you can share your successes and challenges with them and celebrate your achievements and milestones together.


Some best practices for receiving support and mentorship from your investors include:

  • Asking for help: Don’t hesitate to ask for help from your investors when you need it. You should be specific about what kind of help you need, such as introductions, referrals, feedback, advice, resources, etc. You should also be respectful of their time and availability, and follow up with them on the outcomes of their help.

  • Seeking mentorship: Let’s seek mentorship from your investors who have relevant expertise or experience in your field or industry. Asking them for guidance and insights on how to overcome challenges, improve their skills, or grow their business. You should also be open to learning from their mistakes and successes, and apply their lessons to your own situation.

  • Building rapport: By showing interest in them as individuals, not just as sources of funding, you can learn about their backgrounds, interests, goals, and passions. To be fair, you should also share some personal information about yourself, such as your hobbies, values, or aspirations. Then trying to find common ground and points of connection with them, such as shared experiences, interests, or values.

  • Giving feedback: Just be honest and constructive in your feedback, and focus on the positive aspects as well as the areas of improvement. You also can be receptive to the feedback that they give you, and show that you value their opinions and suggestions.


Conclusion


In conclusion, building strong founder-investor relationships is vital for the success of your startup. By raising money from angel syndicates, you can access more capital, save time and effort, gain credibility and exposure, and receive valuable feedback and support from a network of experienced investors who share your vision.


By building strong founder-investor relationships with angel syndicates, you can increase your chances of achieving your startup goals, and create lasting value for yourself, your investors, and the world.

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