This is the first in a series of posts on how to build the optimal AngelList profile for your company.
AngelList is a platform for startups. It’s purpose is incredibly simple but powerful: match companies to the best talent, investors, advisors, vendors and more. The magic comes in that word “match”. Ask any good entrepreneur and she will tell you starting a company is fundamentally about bringing incredible people together around a vision. AngelList has brought these offline activities online.
The platform’s atomic unit is the company profile. Over the past three years, I have helped dozens of companies better tell their story online using AngelList. There is plenty of confusion and misinformation about why, when and how to take the leap and make a profile. I’ll go through each section of the profile and share my detailed advice and learnings in future posts, but here are a few things to know upfront.
It’s more than money
Some founders make a profile to raise money, some to hire teams and others to simply build awareness. Tactically, there are at least two compelling reasons to make a profile. First, it’s the best designed online summary of your company. AngelList spends countless hours thinking about how to best summarize a company. Each field serves a purpose and is aimed to facilitate better matches of all kinds. The second reason is to build awareness. AngelList is the best graph for speaking to and connecting with people interested in early stage companies of all kinds. Building awareness makes fundraising, hiring, deal making and partnering easier and faster.
When to make a profile
The best time to put in the effort and tell your story is when you are ready to publicly tell people that you are starting a new company. Obvious? Yes, but most people over think this. In the early days, making a profile was really just about raising money, but it’s safe to say that the platform has moved beyond fundraising in terms of product scope and grown significantly in size. Let me kill a common myth: making a profile does not send a signal to investors that you are raising money. Hundreds of startups make a profile each day. Making a profile announces that you are starting a company. Some founders use that announcement as part of their fundraising strategy. Whether that works for you depends on who you are, your market and the product you are building. Once you figure out the timing of announcing your new company, the real work begins.
Before you start writing
Most teams throw together a crap profile after the fact. You can stand out with preparation.
- Plan for real time and effort. Telling a story that positions your company in the right light is incredibly hard — period. AngelList makes it both easier and harder by setting constraints and automating much of the delivery. Every word counts on your profile. I’ve worked with teams and spent several hours writing and rewriting sections with them. I know the founders spent even more time on their own. So why all the effort? Because unlike a pitch deck, your AngelList profile scales and is relevant beyond fundraising. A good message told at scale will open all sorts of doors.
- Don’t conflate a profile and a pitch deck. AngelList serves more than just investors. So your profile must engage several audiences: potential recruits, individual angel investors, institutional investors, potential acquirers, partners and so on. Just copying and pasting text and images from your deck is lazy and sloppy. It is also a misunderstanding of the medium. Your profile is a package of structured data inside a web application. Your deck provides visual support and guidance during a conversation. Use each for its respective purpose.
- Assign an editor. While the best profiles are a collaboration, each well told story has a strong editor behind it. AngelList profiles are no different. Make the editor the person responsible for fundraising. Her role is to make sure everything is presented accurately, concisely and consistently. Update it frequently and constantly tweak sections based on feedback.
Living the future
It’s worth remembering that we are in the middle of a massive shift in how companies are built and, by extension, financed. As such, there isn’t one playbook for winning that works for very long. Start with a clear, well told story that scales. If you’re looking for scale, the AngelList profile is an awesome place to start.
Up next: Crafting an Opening Line.