Angels at Play: Highlights from How to Invest in Startups ASAP

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You have all the plans laid out and you’re all set. Now, it’s time for you to get it off the ground and work towards making your business according to your vision. One of the most crucial steps in starting a business venture is to get the funding to make all of the plans that you have mapped out into a reality. The process of investing or preparing for an investment warrants an in-depth discussion as it largely impacts the flourishing ecosystem of startups in Cebu.

The round-table discussion moderated by Joy Garingo was held on January 16, 2024, at The Company Cebu Mandaue’s Meeting Room, which brought together an esteemed panel namely, OJ Lopez, Carlson Dela Serna, and Enrique San Juan, along with an enthusiastic group of participants from the Cebu startup scene, academe, and experienced business owners who wanted to learn more and share their insights on the matter. In this article, we will delve into the primary highlights that were discussed during this intimate and productive conversation.

1. Investments Crash Course: Unlocking the Potential of Startup Founders and Investors

One of the primary discussion points was the importance of investments for both startups and investors. Investments are crucial for startups as they provide the necessary capital for initial development, operations, and growth. It allows them to bring a concept to a new market and maintain operations through struggle. On the other hand, investors benefit from startups’ success through potential returns on their investment, contributing to economic growth and localized innovation.

With the passionate discussion on investments, the panelists and discussion participants acknowledged the investing prowess of angel investors and venture capitalists for startups. However, as it is early on in the business process, the panelists recommended to work with angel investors as much as possible.

2. Encountering Angels: Experiences from a Successful Startup Owner

One of the panelists, OJ Lopez, the genius behind REVAstaff, proudly shared that as a startup founder, one of their first angel checks was from For him, angel investing is highly relational. This means that as long as you are able to make a compelling case and show the value of your product, there is a huge chance of closing a deal with an angel investor. In the same way, the angel investor should align to your company values and what the company hopes to contribute if the product or service is funded.

It is important to note that angel investors are more than people who can give you capital. Angel investors are one of the first few people who believe in the potential of your product. Beyond this, angel investors do not only bring in capital, they can also provide startups with experience to navigate future decisions.

3. Working with Startups: An Angelic Assessment

For the benefit of the startup founders and potential investors, one of the panelists, Carlson Dela Serna, a budding angel investor of several business ventures outlined interesting discussion points on the specific things that an angel investor wants to look at for startups who want to present their ideas and business plan. Beyond the technicalities, Carlson Dela Serna emphasized that for him, it is the people behind the business and the steps that they will take to make his investment worthwhile.

On top of this, he also shared some of the questions that he asks himself when looking at business ventures or startups to invest in:

  • What questions is the company answering?
  • Has that question already been answered?
  • Is the venture only geared towards making money or does it contribute to the greater good?

4. Facing Realities: Risks and Horror Stories from Startup Founders

On the flipside, the panelists and participants also delved into the realities of investments, highlighting the risks and challenging experiences that have shaped their startups. By nature, the act of angel investing and going in for an investment can be likened to gambling since they are putting their trust and resources early on in the business and startup founders have to meet these expectations. Everyone agreed that there are risks that need to be considered with the reality that 9 out of 10 startups are likely to fail.

With this, the panelists began answering questions from several participants adjacent or related to the nature of their business. Enrique San Juan advised some of the startups that they could get government grants and OJ Lopez shed some light on some of the government processes significant to startups.

5. Stepping Up: Fundamentals for Startup Investments

Near the end of the discussion, the panelists advised the interested participants about the fundamentals of getting an investment for their startups. They stressed that the primary aspects that an investor looks for are scale of market, benefit, the team, and quality of the founder. It is also recommended to revisit the numbers and finances of your company before you face an investor. As much as angel investors are passionate and driven, they are also goal-oriented. Thus, they warned not to cheat angel investors.

Some of the other suggestions included preparing the startup’s data room which comprises the pitch deck, curriculum vitae of the team, forecasts, and other pertinent documents that could bolster the startup’s credibility and performance to an angel investor.

Moving Forward

As the discussion ended, the panelists and participants talked about the untapped potential of the startup ecosystem in Cebu with the lack of a community-based or organized group of angel investors that could fund the innovative technologies that the local startups were planning. They continued to network with each other, exchanging contacts, presenting ideas, and reviewing the necessary steps that needed to be done with the potential investors.

In conclusion, the round-table discussion on investing in startups in Cebu provided valuable insights into the symbiotic relationship between startups and investors. The event highlighted the critical role of investments in transforming entrepreneurial visions into realities. The vibrant exchange of ideas signaled a collective commitment to fostering growth and collaboration within the Cebu startup scene.

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