The founder and I entered the boardroom where the Angels were waiting for us. We did introductions, and the founder started his pitch. This founder is good at pitching, so I didn’t have to say much. I spent most of my time observing the Angels. One of them was very aggressive. He used all the body language and verbal signal games that men display to establish dominance (aggressive questioning, interrupting, finger pointing, and so on).
I briefly imagined him as a gorilla, bouncing up and down with bared teeth, and shrieking at the founder… ok, it wasn’t quite that bad. But he was definitely making a power play.
The founder took it well. He ignored the pantomime, and answered each question very fully and professionally. Within half an hour the Angel was so impressed that he’d dropped his bombastic veneer. Then he said he wanted to have a private discussion with the founder.
As I and the others started to leave the room, the founder protested, “Norman should hear anything you have to say to me…”. I stopped him. “It’s okay, I have some calls to make.” I had absolute confidence in the founder’s ability to handle the Angel. And I knew the founder did as well. But he was embarrassed to see me being sent from the room. I was just amused.
The Angel turned out to be a relatively inexperienced investor. He was keen to jump on the bandwagon of the founder’s business, but he thought he controlled the play because he had some cash. He didn’t know that I’d promised to fund the business myself if the Angel round was unsuccessful, so my founder was under no pressure to take money from people he didn’t respect.
Although we now have other investors lined up, we haven’t discounted the obnoxious Angel. I’ve found that some inexperienced Angel investors start off thinking that their money gives them great power and status, but quickly change their behaviour when they find that it impresses nobody. So, we’re doing diligence on the Angel, to see what substance lies behind the bad first impression.