That Rare Breed of Angels

I recently attended an event hosted by the Bucharest Stock Exchange. The main topic was “investing in start-ups with impact”. Among other things, I noticed that one question was being asked again and again by different people in the audience:

“What can we do to have more angels that invest in start-ups?”

I won’t comment the answers but will address the question itself.

Obviously, those asking for more angels were starting from the assumption that anyone with money can be such an angel. Nothing more false than this. Imagine that common folks looking to buy a house would drop their real-estate plans and invest the money into start-ups instead. It would be raining angels! But that would be a disaster as a sudden inflation of stupid money would compromise the entire ecosystem. Fortunes would be lost on half-baked ideas. Wantepreneurs and impostors would thrive on the easy money. The natural selection would be broken, and start-ups would soon become a fad.

There’s no such thing as a generation of angel investors born out of thin air. The angels are the byproduct of the ecosystem and not the other way around.

What we need are successful exits to turn low-salary founders into savvy and wealthy angels. Imagination, persistence, hard work, guts, knowledge and a bit of luck — this is what angels are made of.

That spontaneous generation of angels is still years in the making. Sorry to rain on your naive gold-digging parade.