Real-Life Shark Tank: How to Find Angel Investors in Your Own Backyard

by Stephanie Faris on November 20, 2012
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The popular TV show Shark Tank is drawing mainstream attention to a funding strategy that innovators and entrepreneurs have used for years: angel investing.

The competition for large-scale funding on a national level, of course, is fierce. Looking for an angel investor in your own backyard can be an easier row to hoe. It facilitates in-person meetings and a general “neighbors helping out neighbors” sentiment that may increase your odds of receiving investment capital.

Whether you use an online resource or take “old-fashioned” routes like networking and cold calls, make sure your idea is fully fleshed out before you pitch it. Develop a presentation (and a prototype) that will wow potential investors. Set up a professional website that shows off the many features and benefits of your product or service, too.

Once you have all of that together, it’s time to start searching for local investors. Here’s where to look:

  • AngelList — This online directory’s goal is to connect angel investors with the creators of innovative projects. You can search for an investor by city (and state or country), your product’s market, and/or particular investors you know or trust.
  • Your regional Chamber of Commerce — Your community’s chamber of commerce can be a valuable resource as you begin your search for an investor. Your chamber may already have a list of potential backers or local associations that can help you.
  • National Business Incubation Association — The NBIA features events and support materials to foster business incubation. A business incubator is an organization that brings businesses, community members, and others together to promote business development. Despite the “national” in its name, the NBIA serves more than 1,900 members in some 60 nations. For a list of NBIA member chapters, click here.
  • Networks — Networking should be a regular part of your marketing efforts. The more targeted your networking efforts, the better. Deliberately choose events that may attract potential investors. Organized events like SpeedNetworking can provide an opportunity to meet people in your own community who you might not have met otherwise.
  • Friends and colleagues — Don’t overlook a friend or associate as a source of referrals. The neighbor you’ve said “hello” to every morning for 10 years may regularly lunch with an angel investor who complains about the lack of interesting products or services to invest in.
  • Alumni associations — Successful college alumni can often be very loyal to their alma mater. Through scanning your alumni directory and attending homecoming and other university events, you may be able to find a fellow alum who’s looking for an investment opportunity.

The bottom line: That angel investor you seek could be right in your own backyard. You just need to find each other.

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