Boston Syndicate: How BOSS works

Clockwise from top left: BOSS leads Diane Hessan, Jason Robins, Lars Albright, Niraj Shah, Brian Shin, Corey Thomas

We recognized that one venture firm could not change a market, but we thought a powerful combination of community and software could. We launched Boston Syndicates (BOSS) in late 2013 in partnership with AngelList with a singular goal to catalyze innovation in Boston through a federated approach.

BOSS is a movement designed to turn successful founders into serial angel investors

BOSS is comprised of 50 pre-approved syndicate leads representing Boston’s most respected and high achieving founders and executives. BOSS is a movement designed to (1) create new angel investors from talented individuals who previously never viewed themselves as angels; (2) step-change the number of seed stage companies launched in Boston over the next decade; (3) allow individuals to get paid for their mentorship through transference of economic profit or carried interest to the syndicate lead for any profitable investment; (4) create a posse-like network of entrepreneurs committed to sourcing, investing, and helping the next generation of startups.

At a glance:

  • BOSS is comprised of 50 members who have collectively created over $32B in enterprise value
  • 36 companies funded, raising $13M+ via 300+ backers on AngelList
  • BOSS, as a network, is Boston’s largest and most active seed fund — but think of BOSS as a movement and not a fund
  • BOSS uses AngelList Syndicates as its operating system.

Basic mechanics

BOSS allows relatively small personal investments ($10–100K) to be amplified 20x through community and syndication.

  • BOSS has ~50 formal members we refer to as “leads” who are pre-authorized to create a syndicate on AngelList
  • BOSS leads then surface “first check” investment opportunities through their natural networks
  • When a BOSS lead decides to make an angel investment, they acquire an additional allocation ($400K on average) to help raise material capital on behalf of the company
  • Through Accomplice, the BOSS program backs our leads’ syndicates with $250k. We do not formally evaluate the deal, but we do ensure it qualifies and we always offer feedback, advice and enthusiasm.
  • BOSS pays 20% carried interest with 15% going directly to the syndicate lead and 5% going to AngelList for platform expenses. E.g., if the syndicate lead personally invests $35k, BOSS essentially doubles his/her economic utility on a profitable investment.

BOSS in the real world

Wayne Chang meets Julian Jung of Tablelist and sees an opportunity to create the OpenTable of nightlife.

  • Wayne makes a personal investment of $25K
  • Tablelist seeks to raise $1.5M and doesn’t have time to gather sixty $25K checks. They provide Wayne an allocation of $650K to be syndicated on AngelList
  • Wayne launches a syndicate on behalf of Tablelist, inviting others to invest alongside of him (aka “backers”), at identical terms
  • BOSS acts as Wayne’s first backer and invests $250K through AngelList
  • Wayne/Tablelist attract 37 backers, 4 of which are other BOSS members, and raise an additional $630K on top of Wayne’s original personal investment
  • Wayne’s efforts signal a strong market opportunity and Tablelist quickly raises an additional $800K via external parties

The end effect

We believe the federated community power of BOSS will play a significant part in 250 new companies in Boston over the next 10 years. Many people have asked us why we created Boston Syndicates and why we at Accomplice would transfer our economic profit. The answer is simple: we made a pact to make Boston worth winning before we worried about winning Boston. We knew that more innovation, more startups, and more relevant angel substrate was one step in that direction — the right direction.