Book Review: What Every Angel Investor Wants You to Know by Brian Cohen

by Mike Hale
April 30, 2013

Send me an angel, Send me an angel
Right now, Right now

In 1983 Australian new wave band Real Life made those words famous. Thirty years later, entrepreneurs are saying the same thing. 


Send me an Angel

If your startup is looking for an angel investor, you need to know what the angels are looking for. Understanding what motivates and excites an angel investor is crucial to getting funded. 
What Every Angel Investor Wants You to Know: An Insider Reveals How to Get Smart Funding for Your Billion Dollar Idea, a new book by Brian Cohen, gives you insights from the angel's point of view.
Brian Cohen's biggest claim to fame is being the first investor in Pinterest. He's also the chairman of New York Angels, a consortium of 75 accredited investors that have collectively invested over $45 million and the co-founder, along with his son Trace, of, a platform for startups to manage and distribute news.

Angel Investing As a Contact Sport

Most angel investors have a history of being successful entrepreneurs. They got there by choosing their own path and not listening to everybody else. It's important to have the right mentors and advisors to steer you in the right direction, but not exert too much control.
The title may say "every investor", but these are definitely Cohen's opinions. Still, the principles and advice he shares in the book are common to most angel investors. 
Cohen's take on angel investing is that it's a contact sport. You won't be climbing into any UFC style cage. He means that founders and angels need to stay engaged. Even the significance of a meal shared by angels and founders is discussed. 
"You can't be successful at early stage investing at a distance. The founder and angel need to stay close, and not just during the courtship phase of the relationship"

Angels vs. Venture Capital

The book explains some of the difference between an angel and VCs. Money invested by a VC usually come from partners and other investors. An angel typically funds a company using their own money. 
Angels also invest in a company much earlier. Last year 50,000 were started with seed capital from angels compared to only 600 by VCs. 

Practical Advice

Instead of general ideas, this book is filled with clear-cut advice on how to make the best impression with potential investors. Examples included in the book are:
  • Types of Angels to Avoid
  • 5 Tips For a Perfect Elevator Pitch
  • 8 Questions For founders
  • Sequence of a Pitch Deck
  • 6 Models of Crowdfunding
A lighter moment is the What Company Said ("We have an incredible game-changing transformational vision for the future") and What Angel Heard ("We have our heads in the cloud with little idea how to execute") section. 
Bottom line, What Every Angel Investor Wants You to Know is a rare look into the minds of angel investors, and perfect for any entrepreneur seeking funding or in the process of getting funded.
(Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This review is my own opinion and I received no other compensation for it.)

Mike Hale is the Founder of Commencia and can be found online at @MikeHale and on Google+


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