Angel funding is all the buzz these days, with the outsized personalities of leading early stage investors dominating the tech startup sector. (See: the rise of the super angels jumping into the opportunity of cheaper companies and smaller exits, very real competition with traditional VCs, and training sessions for would-be angels to learn the ropes.)
While it remains to be seen whether or not the angel boom is a success in terms of monetary results as well as hype, it’s not just the startups and angels themselves that are benefitting. There are certainly some happy lawyers and accountants out there. And there’s starting to be a business opportunity to serve the sector as a whole; for instance, the free service AngelList matches companies and investors, and has arranged funding rounds for at least 40 startups since launching in February.
Now angel investing seems to be becoming an industry of its own, complete with tools, services and even an iPhone game. Today comes the beta launch of CapLinked, a web-based tool for managing startup fundraising. Aimed at both startups and investors, Los Angeles-based CapLinked helps the two keep in communication with each other and share documents. The idea is that a dedicated platform brings all the material related to a deal into one place. For an entrepreneur, features include notifications to know when an investor logs in and views a document.
Though CapLinked (which itself is seed-funded by friends and family) is not the first tool of its kind, the pedigree of its creators made me take notice. CEO Eric Jackson previously ran the marketing department at PayPal and wrote the book “The PayPal Wars.” His co-founder Chris Grey is an investor and columnist for TheStreet.com and CTO Dave Schwartz co-founded SnapBridge and was CTO at National Payment Network.
Jackson says companies using the platform include iizuu (which lets users monetize their social network activity) and Film Solutions (which helps film studios manage publicity photos). Angel investor Paige Craig has also offered a testimonial for the site.
However, angel investors I queried said they were unlikely to use CapLinked, saying existing tools like email, and to some extent, Dropbox and Basecamp, are a better fit for bringing the workflows of investors, startups, lawyers and accountants together.
Meanwhile, angel investing is turning into a game. No really; YD Online today launched Angel’s Choice, an iPhone app that has users “invest” in other iPhone apps and compete to have the best portfolio. It’s all virtual, though; the idea is to filter new apps and find the most interesting ones. I’m not sure exactly how in-game success will correlate to real-world success, but if the gameplay is good, it could turn into a nifty discovery engine. Creating an investment portfolio or fantasy sports-type game isn’t anything new; what’s notable that what seemed hippest was to call this an “angel” app.
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