Last week I was at the ACA conference in Austin, TX. It gets less fanfare than the SXSW show going on there right now, but I think it’s probably more important. It was a group of angel investors from all over the country talking about issues that confront them with regard to things that should matter to each and every person in America.
A lot of issues that we covered had to do with things like, how do we do a better job of funding technical companies that come out of university research? How do we get angel groups to work together in a syndicate to form larger blocks of capital to spur innovation? How can angels become better mentors? Accelerators. How can we screen deals better? These are very important topics because the next company angels fund becomes the next engine for job creation.
A study in Washington state showed that for every job Boeing ($BA) created, four more were created in the start up world around that one Boeing job. For every job Microsoft($MFST) created, eight more were created in the start up world around Microsoft. This start up stuff is critical to the American economy.
One issue that was touched on is pretty current. Crowdfunding. Crowdfunding, inspired by crowdsourcing, describes the collective cooperation, attention and trust by people who network and pool their money together, usually via the Internet, in order to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations. Crowdfunding you are already familiar with would be donating to a political campaign, donating to a disaster relief fund. Because the internet can do away with a lot of the transaction costs of fund raising, crowdfunding has become very popular for charity. Giveforward is a great example of how crowd funding can work to make something pretty cool happen.
Other websites you might be familiar with do crowdfunding. FundAGeek, Kickstarter are some examples. Angel List is a place accredited investors gather and talk about companies. Gust is a place where angel groups handle the operations of investing in companies, and it’s possible to share deals across the platform.