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We caught up with Deepali Nangia, early stage investor readiness consultant and advisor, who was recently judge of UK Top Asians in Tech 2017 and the Centre of Fashion Enterprise incoming 2017 cohort.
Q: Deepali, up until recently you headed up investments at Wild Blue Cohort’s angel investor network in West London. You must have screened thousands of business plans – what was that like?
It was gruelling but one of the best experiences I have had. We managed to fund some fantastic entrepreneurs and each one of the investments I led while there is on the up. We were sector agnostic and I learned an awful lot about many industries at the same time. I also managed to meet some amazing investors who I introduced to the network and early stage funds, who continue to support me in my work now. This support is invaluable.
Q: What do you look for in a team?
I look for their their ability to work together (beneficial if some of them have worked together in the past), industry experience and I also look for diversity, where necessary – a team that represents its customers so they can understand them better.
Q: For you, what are the attributes of an entrepreneur?
Investing in early stage is not a science – how do you define value in a piece of art? It is whatever someone is willing to pay for it. While there is no magic formula, industry experience, previous entrepreneurial experience, openness to feedback and ability to hustle are all traits I try and gauge.
Q: What advice would you give entrepreneurs contacting angel investors they don’t know?
It never hurts to ask – my son asks me for a sweetie everyday even though he knows I say no, perseveres everyday at the off chance I might say yes. So never be afraid to approach and ask. You should always be proactive and try and find common connections so you might approach them through someone they know. If cold, please make sure you attach a note with the ask. I get many cold emails from entrepreneurs who send me a deck; however, I much rather prefer something that has a note attached which makes it easier when I am sieving through so many messages. Sometimes, I never get to the cold emails if for nothing, but lack of time.
Also, if an angel turns you down, you can always ask if they know of others who might be interested in a business like yours.
Q: What companies are you most excited about right now?
I have recently evaluated a visual search AI business in the US from an investment standpoint and also looked at investing in a European lux e-commerce business. I tend to evaluate businesses with friends and husband who also likes to invest and funnily end up responsible for the due diligence (not sure how that always happens to me :)!
Q: You recently set up Cosmic & Co – your own advisory to gear startups up for angel investment. What kind of companies do you work with an why?
I work with early stage startups that need hand holding in preparing their investment materials and need guidance in the fundraising process. I am not an investment broker rather than an advisor who provides support & guidance both prior to and during the raise. I have most recently worked with a retail tech (machine learning) business as well as a Michelin star chef. I have a keen focus on female enterprise and do a fair amount of work with women through Cosmic too.