How to Find Angel Investors

5 Tips for Finding an Angel Investor for Your Business

Businessman with angel wings
••• Mart Klein / Getty Images

Is there a small business that hasn’t needed more capital at some stage of development? And is there a small business owner who hasn’t thought of angel investors as an ideal source of the capital needed? But finding angel investors isn’t like finding clams on the beach; the search is more similar to finding the pearl. Here's how to find angel investors that will be most likely to want to invest in your business.

1. Know Who You’re Looking For

Your chances of connecting with the angel investor you need will be much better if you keep this profile of the “typical” angel investor in mind. According to Ralph Kroman of WeirFoulds LLP, the typical angel investor:

  • Has an income that exceeds $100,000
  • Is 40 to 60 years old
  • Has a net worth in excess of $1,000,000
  • Has previous successful entrepreneurial experience
  • Expects to hold on the investment for up to five to seven years (although some angels wish to "cash out" after only a few years)
  • Enjoys advising the entrepreneur and likes to be part of the action
  • Invests up to $150,000 but may participate in a syndicate of other angel investors bringing the total investment to multiples of individual investments
  • Refers deals to other private investors even if the angel has chosen not to invest
  • Likes to invest in an industry with which the angel is familiar
  • Sources deals through referrals

Angel investors look for companies with growth and export potential says Allan Riding, an expert on angel investing and professor at Carleton University. They understand that it may take several years before their investment will pay off - although they also expect to be well compensated for their risk.

2. Look Close to Home

Because so many angel investors like to play an active role in the business they invest in, they prefer to invest in businesses that are close to home. "An angel wants to be nearby so they can drive over to talk to the principals," says Jim Orgill, managing director of advanced technologies for the Business Development Bank of Canada.

3. Network, Network, Network

In most cases, you need to be referred to an angel investor. They’re not hanging out on the street waiting to talk to whoever comes by. So to find angel investors you need to get to know the right person (the one who can refer you to the angel investor you’re looking for), which means immersing yourself in your local business and social community.

Focus on business owners – as these are the people who might be or become angel investors themselves or know an angel investor. Join business and trade organizations and regularly attend the meetings. Joining civic and community organizations are also great for networking. Attend trade fairs and events. Get your face and your name out there and meet as many people as possible.

4. Realize That Many Angels Don’t Fly Solo

While there are some angel investors who invest entirely on their own, many operate as part of an informal network or syndicate where they can pool their resources and share the risks.

Check with the Business Development Center, Community Futures Office or Economic Development Centre where you live; there may be an active group of angel investors in your community.

5. Use the Connection Services Available on the Internet

You may be able to hook up with an angel investor through one of the websites that provides entrepreneur and angel investor matching. If nothing else, you can at least get your business proposal before a wider audience. Here's just a sampling to get you started:

Angel Capital Association (ACA) - The largest professional development organization for angels in the world, ACA boasts over 14,000 member accredited angel investors and over 250 angel groups and accredited platforms, making this website a great resource for finding angel investors throughout the U.S., Canada, South America, and the Middle East.

Gust (formerly Angelsoft) - Claiming to be the world's largest startup network, with over $1 billion of funding raised through their extensive angel network, Gust lets you complete a single application for hundreds of angel groups across the world.

Canadian Investment Network - A service to connect entrepreneurs with angel investors. Posting your confidential proposal is free; If their matching service finds an investor who desires to pursue your opportunity further, you pay a one time, first contact fee. Or you may choose to pay upfront and receive premium services.

Angel Forum - Technology and non-technology pre-screened companies seeking equity financing of $100,000 to $1 million, deliver "live" presentations to pre-screened private and corporate investors.

Note that these websites do not directly provide investor funding; what they offer is the chance to make the connection with angel investors that may be interested in what you're offering.

The Hunt for Angel Investors Is Worth It in the End

Finding an angel investor is not a particularly easy task, but the effort will really pay off when you find the angel investor who is willing to invest in your business. Besides providing the capital your business needs, the advice and know-how of an angel investor can be key to shaping your company’s success.