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  • Writer's pictureLeo Wang

Lesson 4 in Angel Investing: Principle

Original Chinese Version on Aug 6, 2013: HERE

In the field of angel investing, every angel investor or institution should have their own set of “principles,” which can be understood as a set of “action guidelines” that stipulate what to do and what not to do. These rules should be established based on the personal experience and knowledge accumulation of the angel investor, or at the inception of the institutional angel investment by the founding partners based on experience and trend judgment.

What to do:

1) Invest in which field 2) Invest in which stage 3) Invest in what amount 4) Invest within a certain valuation range 5) Invest in what kind of people 6) Invest in what kind of model 7) Set up which terms 8) Under what conditions to exit 9) How to make investment decisions

What not to do:

1) Never invest in certain people; 2) Never invest in certain things; 3) Never invest at certain stages; 4) Never invest at certain valuations; 5) Never invest in certain fields; 6) Never invest in certain models; 7) Never touch certain bottom lines; 8) Never accept certain terms; 9) Never in certain situations…

For the angel investing industry, which can easily amplify a “speculative mindset,” it’s very important to stick to principles. These principles can be formal, or they can be tacit agreements among partners; there can be “what to do” without “what not to do,” or vice versa. What’s immutable is the need to have principles.

Investors without principles are likely to fall into the trap of speculation. Although from a profit perspective, there are indeed some investors who have made a lot by speculating, it’s like gambling: the house always wins in the long run. Investors like Warren Buffett who are successful definitely have their own set of investment principles, such as value investing, long-term investing, etc.

Principles should not be “broken,” but they can be “modified.” When the environment, era, or even shareholders change, the “principles” of investment can also be “adjusted” or “optimized.” For instance, initially, many investors wouldn’t touch hardware, but as crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter became more popular, and the public and investors accepted the pre-sale crowdfunding model, the risks associated with investing in hardware significantly decreased, and some investment firms could adjust their strategies to enter this field.

Most of the time, sticking to principles will help you “avoid traps” and might also mean missing out on many “enticing opportunities.” However, in the long run, only investors who stick to their principles will have the most objective returns. What do you think?

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