SoCal Angel Roundup – Tech Coast Angels

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One of the most pressing questions I get from fellow entrepreneurs is – “how do I get my business funded?” While there are some fantastic resources available on the subject (StartupDigest University and VentureHacks), a main point that I like to highlight is that Southern California isn’t the Silicon Valley. Likewise, the investment community is quite different as well.

Most Southern California-based investors (who aren’t named Mark Suster, Jason Calacanis, or Paige Craig) rarely get any love. So, to help SoCal entrepreneurs get more familiar with the investment folks in their backyard, we’ve started the “SoCal Angel Roundup” series – we’ll feature local angel investors (both investment groups and individuals), what they’re looking for, and advice they have for you.

Tech Coast Angels is the largest angel investor group in the US, with nearly 300 members and $100M personally invested in startups over the last decade.  Some of their major hits include Sandpiper Networks (acquired by Digital Island for $630M) and Green Dot (NYSE: GDOT). And in recent years, they’ve been involved in some interesting SoCal startups such as Zag, SodaHead, and Vokle.

However, TCA has gotten a bad rap over the years. Entrepreneurs gripe about their drawn-out investment process, the black box decision-making, the inaccessibility of its members, and more.

So, after hearing these concerns, TCA has made a concerted effort to rejuvenate, rebrand, and reprioritize. They want to bring in fresh ideas, new faces, and embrace the local tech boom. They want to streamline their investment process. And ultimately, their goal is to make TCA more entrepreneur-friendly.

Raymond Chan, TCA Board Member and COO of Vokle (a TCA Seedtrack Investment), puts it better than anyone in that “entrepreneurs are really [TCA’s] partners, and we’re pushing to align ourselves more with them…before we invest, during the investment process, and especially after we invest.”

From an outreach perspective, TCA has been holding monthly mixers and weekly Meet the Angels webcasts, with the goal of meeting, educating, and learning from local entrepreneurs. With combined regular attendance in the hundreds, it seems that these events have been extremely successful in helping connect TCA members with local startups. Not even from strictly a business perspective, but as Raymond notes, “we’ve been able to find out more about the personality of the entrepreneurs, beyond just the business plans.” Additionally, they’ve used the Meet the Angels webcasts to help educate and prepare entrepreneurs for the funding process, with sessions from Brad Feld, TCA Chapter Presidents, and startup pitch gurus.

TCA has also restructured their investment evaluation process, starting with a new website for submissions through the final due diligence phase. And it has seemed to work thus far – TCA notes increased dealflow and investments this year, with final data being released at the end of Q4 2010.

With that all said, TCA provides capital to worthy entrepreneurs in Southern California. They have some fantastic angels involved, with concrete startup experience that can add tremendous value to your business. If you’re looking to raise money, it’s definitely a route to consider. I’d suggest heading over to a TCA event, meet some of the folks involved, and then get all of your ducks in a row for the road ahead…

As noted on the TCA website, they focus on seed-stage, high-growth companies with stellar management teams, strong IP, and interesting target markets. They usually invest between $200k-$500k, and will lead syndicated deals up to $2M. If you’re looking for capital, you can apply here.


Matt is an entrepreneur, musician, and founder of the music education startup Chromatik (

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