Angel Investing vs. Venture Capital: What’s Best for a Nevada Startup
For most startups, there’s a point where self-funding the business isn’t an option anymore, and founders are often left with the choice between angel investing vs. venture capital. Either they need to scale but lack the liquidity to do so, or they need to cover operational costs. Whatever the reason, funding is needed to keep the dream alive.
New startups usually have to rely on personal networks like friends and family to get startup capital. They may apply for a bank loan. But there’s no guarantee that close friends, family, or a loan can supply enough money to stay afloat. Sometimes new entrepreneurs must approach private investors.
Investment funding may come from two main sources: angel investors and venture capitalists. A startup needs to ask the right investor- startup fit questions to determine which is the right choice and learn about the potential risks and benefits of each option.
Angel Investing vs. Venture Capital
Angel investing and venture capital (VC) are private fundraising options for businesses that want to sidestep traditional banking institutions. While there are some similarities between them, they operate differently. Everything from the maximum investment offered, to expectations on returns, to the terms and amount of due diligence performed vary.
What is Venture Capital?
Raising venture capital funding operates outside of traditional banking. It’s a private equity solution through which startup businesses receive anywhere from several hundred thousand to millions of dollars in exchange for an ownership stake in the company. To offer these amounts, venture capitalist firms pool funds from several high-net-worth investors (including corporations and individuals) and create an investment portfolio.
What Is Angel Investing?
Angel investors are individuals who fund startups in exchange for an equity stake in the business that’s realized at an exit. In the US, an investor must have a net worth of at least $1 million excluding the equity in the primary residence or have earned at least $200,000 for the past two consecutive years for single investors or $300,000 for a couple. This is known as the SEC’s definition of an “accredited investor.” Usually, angels are the first outside backers after an entrepreneur exhausts friends and family, bank loans, and personal reserves. Angel investments still qualify as “pre-seed or seed investments” because the funding is usually lesser amounts with the average being $25,000 to $50,000.
There are also angel groups and syndicates. Angel groups can operate in a number of ways that include funds into which all angels invest, investments that are made with the approval of a minimum number of angels or each individual angel making his/her own investment decision. Angel syndicates may pool a minimum investment from each participating member, which allows the group to invest larger lump sums in a single deal or “spread the wealth” across several deals. Syndicates can also be a simple network or angels or angel groups who share deal flow and have no rules attached. The difference is important because pooled investment funds, whether within an angel group or as a syndicate, allow these groups to operate like small-scale VC firms. Still, the total investment per deal is smaller than a VC would offer.
Similarities and Differences Between VCs and Angels
With both VCs and angels, you approach outside investors for funding. Both groups will have preset criteria to determine whether your deal is viable and coincide with their portfolio and investment goals.
Both VCs and angels require information to assess a potential deal. The information is most often offered in the form of a pitch deck. The pitch deck should cover the basics of the business, including what problem the startup is solving, the market potential, competitors, how they sell to customers and what they charge, any traction, the team, and what they’re asking in terms of investment or support. It should demonstrate how the investors will likely earn a return. Both groups are early investors and usually agree to invest before or after achieving major financial milestones. Funding is invested in exchange for a stake in the company with the expectation of a financial return once a liquidity event occurs.
A liquidity event can be acquisition by another company or a future funding deal like series A or B funding rounds, or an initial public offering (IPO). Series A and B funding rounds (a common angel exit) refers to bigger investments that are still pre-IPO but occur after seed funding is exhausted. IPOs occur when businesses become publicly traded on the stock market (a common VC exit). The most common exit for startups is acquisition by another company, or failure.
When pitting angel investing vs. venture capital, there are a few main areas in how the two deals differ:
- The funding amount
- The equity stake and return expectations
- Startup position within the business life cycle
- Risk exposure and startup readiness
Because Angels typically offer smaller investments than VCs do, they are more open to funding earlier-stage startups, including at the proof-of-concept stage. Because of this, the risk is greater, and deals may be held for longer periods. Likewise, they may choose to be more hands-on with the startup to safeguard their investment.
By contrast, VCs look for faster growth and will often consider only those deals with larger funding requests—the series A and B rounds. Although the risk is inherently higher with bigger sums, VCs will require established track records like year-over-year financial growth, secured business partnerships, or top talent at the founder level, like serial startup founders, previous influential angel investors, and industry insiders as advisors. As a result, early-stage venture capital firms usually fund startups after proof-of-concept stage.
Which Funding Source is Right for You?
Criteria such as business stage and market potential will automatically determine which funding option founders can pursue. VCs rarely consider early startups since they prefer more established businesses with a verified market share, revenue, and growth potential. Startups should focus on angels who are open to funding early stage businesses. Founders can take the guesswork out of sourcing investors by partnering with StartUp Nevada. With seven education programs for entrepreneurs, and an accelerator that invests in early stage companies, we help nurture business ideas. We also help educate founders about angel investing vs. venture capital opportunities and offer access to venture capital in Las Vegas through our in-depth investor network.