David Smooke

@DavidSmooke

The Future of Investor Relationship Management

Founder Interview

Disclosure: AngelLoop, the startup to investor communications platform, has previously sponsored Hacker Noon.
Read parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 of this interview: The Entrepreneurial Journey of AngelLoop CEO Igor Feerer, How the Problem of Your Current Business Can Lead To Your Next Business, What Information Should Founders Share With Their Investors? & The AngelLoop Team and Product Roadmap.

David: How do you see angel investing industry as a whole changing over the next five, and 10, and even 20 years?

Igor Feerer: Yeah. So, I guess in the next five years you’re not going to see that much of a change. There’s just a whole bunch of angel networks out there that people want to participate in. I think that’s going to keep growing as a lot more deals are being done outside of the Valley. So, we’re definitely seeing an ecosystem and this ecosystem is outgrowing us here in Silicon Valley.

I see a lot more of these investor angel networks popping up throughout the world and really helping spur innovation in their region.

Over the next 10 years, just my opinion, but I definitely like where the ICO businesses is going.

Once a lot of the challenges, once they get sorted away, I think people are going to be moving more of their money into crypto and using that money to invest in equity.

So, the whole conversation around tokenized equity is now just starting up and I definitely see a lot of potentials with a companies tokenizing their equity and finding money anywhere. They don’t have to be in Silicon Valley, they could be anywhere in the world. So, most of these investors in crypto are angels.

Yeah… a lot to think about with these Silicon Valley models and applying to anywhere in the world. With your product, I feel like contact management is essential. So, how do you see contract management evolving over into the foreseeable future?

It will eventually get a lot more easier for companies to raise money and definitely having access to a large network is going to play its role, so more than contact management, is nurturing relationships.

So, you’ve contacted an investor, then what? Once you have all your stuff on AngelLoop, right now you can contact them have that touch points, but you’re also showing them how you’re performing so that kind of leaves more interest in their head when they move off from that conversation. They come back to you because we ping them, notify them, let them know that there’s another update from me so they keep coming back.

But overall, as far as lead nurturing is concerned, you’re pretty much replicating that, but you’re doing so with your current stakeholders. So, contact management is definitely evolving. In our case it’s being tailored for our young early stage startup ecosystem.

What does AngelLoop look like three years from now?

This is a good question. There’s obviously a lot f different directions, but I see us managing the post funding side onward. I like where it’s at. There’s a lot more financial services that we can add to it to help companies even better their approach. So, I would say in the next three years, probably launch lot more financial services and keep adding features to both the investor and the startup sides so that they’re happy with the tools they have, and really just improve their own bottom line.

That makes a lot of sense. On your homepage, it looks a lot like Silicon valley, the show.

Yeah.

With the cartoon. Could you talk a little bit about that marketing choice and do you have any fear that they’re going to sue you for using their cartoons?

My wife’s an attorney. I talked to my attorney, it’s not my wife, but just our corporate attorney. It’s different enough I guess to where it’s not really a copyright issue, but I love that show. I see that show as being more forthright and honest with its audience because a lot of the topics they discuss are very similar to the stuff that founders have to deal with, stuff that investors have to deal with. So, I like their truthful approach.

As far as the city scape goes, it’s very descriptive of AngelLoop, it’s Silicon Valley in a platform, is my main point on the branding side. I got a lot of people loving it. Maybe do a little more animation around it, but overall, it’s just very indicative of our culture here in Silicon Valley. So, it resonates with the viewers or at least with our visitors.

Yeah, I like the choice a lot. And I did read some about that show and Mike Judge who wrote it (and Beavis & Butt-Head) actually worked for a Silicon Valley Company in the first Internet boom. I think helps the accuracy in it. I remember describing it to friends who weren’t living in San Francisco when I was and it was like, “Yeah, this is actually a little more real than you want it to be.”

Yeah. It’s definitely got reference points. So, whenever I talk to somebody about entrepreneurial stuff, I just go, “Watch that show, Silicon Valley, it’ll tell you everything I’m dealing with.” And they watch it, they love it. So, that show probably had a big hand in getting other founders off their ass and then to a startup.

Yeah. It’s funny how culture and humor can be this mascot and driving force for a lot of people moving industries. Thinking about the Internet as a whole, if there’s something you could change about the internet or the Internet experience that everyone has, what would it be?

Oh man, probably privacy. I hate that somebody owns my own data. I want more blockchain, more crypto, I want more people owning their own data. It makes that more sense and if they want to monetize it, they could do so however they want. But having the major players or having all our data centralized in a couple of hands, it’s really kind of daunting. So, I like blockchain, I really like what it’s doing to personalize or at least give the options to somebody to have access to their data and not in somebody else’s hands.

Yeah. We recently published a story by one of The Next Web writers and one of the key quote of it was, The Pirate Bay founder and he said, “We centralized all of our data to a guy named Mark Zuckerberg.” And it’s just like, “Wait a minute, maybe that is what we did.” It’s amazing how many people are willing to trade convenience for their data.

Well, that data is being used to manipulate the people that are giving it. I’m reading a book called The Attention Merchants right now and it never really occurred to me that I was the product especially when I’m looking through all the social media, I’m just looking through it. I was looking at pictures, talking to people, but really what they’re doing is the data that you input is going to definitely help them figure out how to keep your attention a little longer and then package that attention over to an advertiser. I don’t mean it’s a bad model, it’s not, it’s just I’m not getting paid for it, you know what I mean?

Like on Youtube at least you have contributors, content creators, like even yourself. Like there’s definitely like an interest for me to make some money off my own stuff. So, I don’t like feeling like I’m giving you my attention and I’m getting just a bunch of ads in return.

Yeah. It is amazing… like what if…. a social network were to emerge that’s got the user volume of Facebook but the business model wasn’t advertisements? Like how would it different?

Well, what Zuckerberg is doing right now with changing around the newsfeed. I Kind of like where it’s going. I hope he’ll have enough strength to overcome his board and overcome their investors, but ultimately, if you can figure out a way to put this stuff on blockchain and then help original content creators access revenue of their own, I think he would have solved a big problem. But yeah, we definitely need somebody else in the space to diversify it.

Yeah. Nothing breeds innovation like competition, which Facebook has very little of.

I guess getting back to ourselves; what kind of advice do you have for achieving work-life balance as an entrepreneur? I know it can be very daunting and there’s always more things to do, but you’re better at doing things if you have a clear mind. So, what types of techniques and practices do you use to achieve work-life balance?

Yeah. I got two kids, I got a wife and I can tell you what I see wrong with how a lot of people approach it… I mean, the way they look at work life balance, they look at it almost on an immediate basis, like on a day to day kind of basis, but work-life balance isn’t necessarily have to be work a couple of hours, have a life a couple of hours.

It can also be work for as long as you need to get your company to a successful point and then do a mini retirement.

But people can burn out, sure, I think being in this global ecosystem, we’re definitely competing with some really hard working people out there.

So, don’t take for granted what you’re doing with their startup. I mean, talk about work-life balance when you’ve definitely started seeing traction. Take many breaks, but overall, just keep working. It’s a not a new concept, but just, work produces luck and luck will get you into the right doors.

I like that, work produces luck.

So, who should try AngelLoop today? What should you do? Should an entrepreneur just log in, and get their data there, and try it out?

Yeah, absolutely. We offer a month free trial. For companies that have less than seven investors onboard, it’s free to use. We want to get you early in growth because there’s definitely potential of helping you scale your venture and I guess reciprocate the love. But overall, for companies that have more than seven investors, it’s 65 bucks a month, you get a one month trial. You get to test it out and look at all the templates we have available, put your data in, look at the end results of how you’re performing.

But otherwise, we have about 750 customers on here already. They definitely look very early stage, but nonetheless, anybody that has raised money from investors and you have information rights or at the very least you want to better your relationships with these investors.

These are the folks that I recommend on the investor side. Your investor Management solutions is just, I want to say God awful, you’re wasting a whole bunch of time chasing after companies. Just bring all your portfolio companies, centralize them on a single platform and be able to communicate with them, and definitely help them. You’re not investing and then just closing your eyes hoping you’re going to make a return, you’re investing and you have to be actively involved in continuing to invest, and not just money, but your time.

Yes, it really is the most valuable asset, time. And what’s the best way to reach you Igor?

Yeah. Go to my site, I got a little Intercom Chatbot on the lower right hand corner. I’m always on, it hits me up on my phone and I just respond right away. But otherwise, get on AngelLoop, you’ll see me in your network and we could be friends.

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