Start-up fundraising can be bloodsport, which also makes for great entertainment. Shark aquarium For the first time, the pitch decks aired in prime time in 2009, spawning a whole kind of investment as a reality show. To name a few: Meet the clothiers (hosted by venture capitalist Tim Draper), Cleveland hustles (hosted by basketball legend LeBron James), Pitch Elevator Contractor (exactly what it looks like), Profit (oddly enough, to invest in bankrupt companies), The dragon pit (like Shark aquarium, but British), and Silver tigers (like Shark aquarium, but Japanese).
The last entry on this theme is not on television but on Flag. Every Wednesday at 3 p.m. PT, a new handful of founders go head-to-head in front of a panel of angel investors on a weekly show called Angelhouse. Hundreds of more people are listening. Conversations between founders and investors can be educational, but “the point of hearing pitches is not to give advice,” says Geoff Cook, one of the angels. “It’s to decide: do you want to invest or not?”
From the start, Clubhouse has had a dynamic start-up scene, and many the best users of the application are venture capitalists. It’s not uncommon to stumble upon a room full of entrepreneurs practicing their pitches, or investors discussing the latest trends in startups. Cook, who founded his first startup as a freshman at Harvard in 1997, sold several companies and is now embarking on angel investing. After spending time on Clubhouse earlier this year, he realized that this might be a good place to find a new stream of transactions. He asked a few other angels he knew if they wanted to come in, and in January, Angelhouse started.
Each week, Angelhouse invites four founders to take the stage. Most participants have submitted an application form in advance, but the show will occasionally choose an audience volunteer to present it on site. There are no slides or B-roll footage on Clubhouse. Instead, it’s an hour-long exchange between founders and investors probing their ideas, including the sometimes boring details: tech specs, cash flow, distribution models. Then the Angels – who are scattered around the world – retreat to a private feedback channel on Slack, where they discuss which locations, if any, are viable investments. They invite their favorites to come back every five weeks for The Money Show, where they decide which one they want to invest in. No one “wins” the Angelhouse Money Show; sometimes no one is chosen. There is only one trick: if an angel writes a check, he all write a check.
For founders, the process can be surprisingly efficient. Without the right network to do the introductions, getting the attention of an angel investor can be about as easy as finding a fairy godmother; on Clubhouse there are full rooms, and Angelhouse offers an easy way to hook up a meeting. For angels, it can also help create new connections leading to new business. “In my previous angel investment, it was always someone I knew through someone, or someone I knew directly,” says Cook. Now his network is as large as Clubhouse’s user base.
On Angelhouse, each angel invests a minimum of $ 10,000 and a maximum of $ 50,000. It’s smaller than the average angel check, but because the group invests together, it relieves some of the pressure on individual angels without bypassing the founder. So far, investors have blessed two startups at the show: Alpha’a, a blockchain market for art, and Battery influence, a platform that connects micro-influencers to brands. Manuela Seve, the founder of Alpha’a, simply introduced herself to the Angelhouse audience and raised her hand to throw. The Angels liked what they heard, brought her back for the Money Show, and decided to invest. “The next day, I made another pitch in another room [on Clubhouse], and that led to another investor we’re talking about now who could lead the round, ”Seve says. “I said to my team, ‘I just raised $ 50,000 in two minutes!’”