Ian Sobieski, investor and managing director of the Band of Angels Venture Fund, highlights the benefits and specialties of angel investors, underlines the keys to finding and engaging an angel, and defines how to get the most out of your relationship after the deal is made.
So I’m a first generation American. My parents defected from Poland, a communist country, where entrepreneurship was illegal. I share those two things because they’re really sort of relevant to the context I came from, which was more or less devoid of the kind of entrepreneurship that I’m steeped in today. And so I came out to California to get my PhD in aeronautical engineering, and the culture of entrepreneurship, which of course was already very existent here in the Silicon Valley, pervaded my head and I started wanting to look at these startups; and that culture was novel and innovative and new to me. So I was sucked in. I met the founder of the Band of Angels, which at the time was one of only a handful of angel groups in the country. Since 1997, I’ve been helping lead the organization as one of the premiere angel clubs in the United States.
I’m Ian Sobieska and I’m an angel investor. In my almost 20 years of doing this, I’ve invested in more than 120 companies as the lead investor. I have served on more than 20 boards of directors, and of this companies, two have gone public, but I’ve had 60, six zero, go bankrupt, a big goose egg; and I’ve had many outcomes in between, about 30 or more have been acquired for a profit, and the balance are in still in some stage of living or life. But it is really an art, and not a science. It’s an activity that is innovative and new. I have the great privilege of working every day with more than 150 likeminded individuals, who are in this game to help entrepreneurs build a brave new world.