Angel Profile: Angela Lee
Why do you angel invest?
I love helping early stage entrepreneurs as I’m an educator at heart. I’ve started several companies and like being able to share my experience to help other entrepreneurs. I think there are way easier ways to make money so if that’s your only goal, you should not be angel investing.
What was your first angel investment? How did it turn out?
It was a movie and something I felt very emotionally tied to. It raised the profile of mental illness in the Asian American community and was a Sundance finalist. When I heard about it, I said, “This is a movie that more people have to see.” Even if I lose all of my money on this one, I’m still glad I invested.
What investment do you most want to brag about / why?
One that’s doing very well is Legends of Fighting. It’s like Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC), but in Hong Kong. They just raised a $4M Series A on a $13M valuation. They are on TV, selling broadcast rights. I know nothing about the space, but my husband and I went to school with the two co-founders, and they are both really smart guys and one knows the MMA space very well.
What’s your biggest lesson learned?
I relied on other investors too much at the beginning. I would think, “This person seems smart” so I trusted their due diligence probably more than I should have. I have gotten pretty far down the process and have been within days of writing a check and something didn’t feel right in my gut but I kept saying, “But this guy is invested in it and he must know what he’s doing.” To be clear, it is less about those people not being smart and more about my needing to get my feet grounded as an investor before I understood what my investment style was.
People often say that there are three types of investors. You either invest in the team, the market, or the technology. I am a team investor, I care about the team first and foremost most so it doesn’t make sense for me to rely solely on someone who cares first and foremost about the market they are playing in. That’s what my gut was telling me. For instance, I heard great company pitch yesterday and several people whose opinion I trust are interested. And even though I think the company will make a lot of money, I didn’t feel a connection with the team so I won’t be pursuing it.
What’s the smartest thing someone pitching you (or who you invested in) said / did?
The entrepreneurs that I like most are the ones that I say “no” to and they a) ask for feedback and b) three months later email me to show how they responded to the feedback. They stayed on my radar because they realized that this is not in any way, shape, or form a short term transaction. Maybe I missed their friends and family round; maybe I said no to their seed round, but guess what? Maybe I can introduce them to a Series A investor. That’s smart. This is a long term game.
What’s the dumbest thing?
“American Idol” reactions. You know, the “I’m gonna be a huge star one day and you’ll be sorry” type responses.
You run 37 Angels, a community of women angel investors. What’s the difference between men and women angels?
In general, I think women feel the need for a higher level of confidence before trying something new. They feel they need to know more about something before jumping in and their appetites for ambiguity can be low. This makes them less likely to go into angel investing and it’s why women angels have something of a reputation for taking a long time to pull the trigger.
At 37 Angels I try to a) increase this appetite for ambiguity, and b) help them do more effective due diligence, to get it down to five weeks instead of 5 months. We show them that there are different levels of due diligence, what to do, what not to do, etc.
How will you know when 37 Angels has succeeded in its mission?
When what people remember about me is not that I am a woman angel investor but rather that I am a healthcare tech investor who has deep expertise in the pharma industry. I’ll know I’ve succeeded when I walk into a room and people don’t automatically introduce me to the other woman in the room.
Pretend that it’s 2019 and complete this sentence, “[Technology X] is less than 5 years old and now I can’t imagine life without it.”
Seamless, real-time health monitoring for preventative medicine.
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