JumpStart New Jersey Angel Network (JumpStart) Executive Director Katherine O’Neill recently visited the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s (EDA) Commercialization Center for Innovative Technologies (CCIT) in North Brunswick on Monday to present “Top Ten Essentials for Raising Angel Money” to CCIT tenants and other interested New Jersey technology professionals.
During the presentation, O’Neill, who was named one of NJBIZ’s 2015 “Best 50 Women in NJ Business,” advised entrepreneurs to have the following available when meeting with investors:
- A one to two minute introduction with the company’s value clearly identified
- An excellent ONE PAGE business summary
- A list of the team (and advisory board) members
O’Neill also said that entrepreneurs should be able to demonstrate that they have:
- Domain and competitive knowledge
- Focus and ability to execute their plan
- Skin (read: money) in the game
- Initiative, character, drive, knowledge and coachability
- Honesty and transparency (numbers provided should be real, not inflated)
- Capital efficiency (e.g. no large corporate salaries)
- A proven track record (company’s ability to execute and meet its goals)
O’Neill has led JumpStart since 2003, a year after it was founded. JumpStart, which began as a collaborative effort between the EDA and the New Jersey Technology Council (NJTC), has grown to 45 members and is one of the largest angel investing networks in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Under O’Neill’s leadership, the network has invested a total of more than $50 million in more than 65 early-stage technology-based companies. Approximately 50 percent of the funds have gone to New Jersey companies, including EDA-supported Bergen Medical Products in Cedar Knolls and South Brunswick-based United Silicon Carbide Inc.
JumpStart holds quarterly “Meet the Angels” sessions, which are informal opportunities for invited early-stage entrepreneurs to meet with network members. Entrepreneurs can firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about when the next session is.
Underscoring the importance of cultivating the next generation of entrepreneurs and investors, JumpStart has participated in all three previous EDA-hosted Founders & Funders events. Held semi-annually, Founders & Funders introduces emerging technology and biotechnology companies to investors in ten-minute, one-on-one conversations. O’Neill said that she looks forward to meeting entrepreneurs at the next event on Oct. 27 at CCIT.
With extensive expertise in healthcare, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, information systems, e-commerce and social media, O’Neill is a mentor at regional accelerators Princeton University E-Labs and TechLaunch. She also runs her own business, O’Neill Associates, through which she consults with emerging companies on a wide variety of topics. O’Neill also sits on numerous boards, including the EDA’s Edison Innovation Fund Technology Advisory Board, the New Jersey Technology CFO Advisory Board, and the Rutgers University Innovation Park Advisory Board.
“As an active investor, O’Neill plays an integral role in New Jersey’s dynamic technology scene, and brings invaluable knowledge and expertise to the Garden State’s angel investing community,” EDA Chief Executive Officer Melissa Orsen said.
On a broader level, O’Neill serves on the board of the national organization Angel Capital Association (ACA), which represents angel groups in North America. As the chairwoman of ACA’s 2016 Annual Summit, which will be held in Philadelphia next May, she believes the event will provide the Garden State with an opportunity to showcase the region’s investors and promote the New Jersey Angel Tax Credit Program.
The NJEDA also spoke with O’Neill about angel investing in New Jersey:
JumpStart has been a participant in several of the Founders & Funders events. What nuggets of information do you provide to emerging companies during these meetings?
In addition to providing entrepreneurs with a few of the “Top Essentials” mentioned above, we help them realize that their pitch is their opportunity to open a door and start a relationship. We talk to them about how to improve discussions about their company. We also make suggestions on potential funding groups and collaborators.
Can you talk about how the New Jersey Angel Investor Tax Credit Program has affected the Garden State’s angel investing community?
We have found that the Angel Investor Tax Credit Program has been a great motivator for angel investors. Specifically, it gives out-of-state investors the opportunity to receive a check for ten percent of the money they invest in New Jersey technology and biotechnology companies.
What do you recommend to a person looking to start out in angel investing?
There are lots of ways to get started in angel investing. My suggestions would be to join a group and surround yourself with peers who have the expertise you want to develop. Learn from those who invest well and have excellent reputations. Developing your reputation as a connected, valuable partner and active investor will ensure that you have quality companies seeking your funding.