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Angel Investing Around the World: Insights from the International Exchange Workshop

Angel Insights Blog

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 

Angel Investing Around the World: Insights from the International Exchange Workshop


This post was co-written by John May and Wendee Wolfson, co-hosts of the 2013 International Exchange at the 2013 ACA Summit.

This year’s International Exchange (IE) at the ACA Summit, was comprised of 120 leading angels from around the world to exchange ideas, discuss challenges, and broaden their global networks. The 100%+ growth in attendance year over year and participation from 25 countries on 6 continents demonstrates a growing appetite for cross-border collaboration.
Below are highlights on some of the key topics from the sessions:

Around the World Updates is a regular panel that highlights key activities on different continents, and a few of this year’s updates included:

  • Antonio Botelho, Brazil. Antonio updated us on the challenges of keeping up group activity and energy in a market where there have been limited exits. (presentation slides)
  • Mannie Liu, China. Describing a new survey of angels in China, Mannie shared examples of investors who have been more like our Super Angels in their investment profiles. (presentation slides)
  • Hasan Haider, Bahrain. Hasan shared information of his newly formed group in Bahrain and why it is an effective location for accessing deal flow through the MENA region. (presentation slides)
  • Marco Villa, Italy. Marco talked about the challenges of trying to encourage government policy to promote angel activity in Italy.

State of the World, featured a keynote from Nelson Gray, an experienced investor from Scotland who has helped groups start up operations in various locations around the world. He believes the considerations are significant, trusted relationships with local angels are essential, and if one’s local environment provides sufficient attractive deal flow, then the bar is high for cross-border deals to make the cut.

Cross-Border Investing was a limited topic even a year ago, but is now a subject of great interest and a wide variety of perspectives. Angels are asking questions like: Is it realistic? Is it wise? Are there cultural impediments to understanding another country’s ecosystem for startups? Can deal terms become uniform? How can deals be sourced and how can they be monitored effectively post-investment?

We also learned of impressive cross-border funds and angel investing collaboration efforts:

  • Dusan Stojakovic described the multi-country early stage fund he shares with angels in seven cities sourcing deals, performing due diligence, and being value-added investors to their local portfolio companies. He provided insights on his dramatic experience of having three exits in one week last year!
  • Kit Hunter Gordon described a unique bi-country fund between the UK and the US to find angel investment opportunities in companies that will benefit by a presence in both locations. In emerging angel markets, additional support is often needed to supplement or even jumpstart the local investment pool.
  • Oltac Unsal presented the launch of the World Bank’s co-investment fund for angel groups in five MENA countries.
  • Marta-Patricia Aparicio y Montesinos updated us on the progress of the Inter-American Development Bank’s Multi-Lateral Investment Fund initiatives in Latin America.
  • Michael Cain talked about Angel Resource Institute’s (ARI) grant from the U.S. Department of State (USAID) to present angel education programs in five emerging markets.

Additionally, Professor Rob Wiltbank, leading expert on angel investing data, emphasized the need to gather data similar to the U.S. angel investing HALO Report on a worldwide basis to support all of our efforts to propel the industry forward, enhance transparency, and create fledgling attempts at comparability across countries and regions.

In our next blog post on international topics, we will share responses from five of our most experienced angels from Australia, Belgium, Italy, Chile & Canada on globally-minded “myth-busting” questions from a lively panel discussion.

John May, ACA Chariman Emeritus, is the Managing Partner of the New Vantage Group, which has organized five angel investing organizations in the Washington, D.C. area since 1999, placing funds into more than 50 companies.

Wendee Wolfson was a co-founder of the country’s first professionally managed, pooled fund of active female investors in early-stage private equity transactions, WomenAngels.net. She was also a co-founder of Women’s Growth Capital Fund, a venture capital fund focused exclusively on women entrepreneurs.

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