Rob Go: 

In search of things new and useful.

Sad Observations from a Boston Angel Dinner

Rob Go
November 18, 2010 · 2  min.

I was at a dinner last night with folks from local angel groups and other seed stage investors in Boston.

There were a few jokes about how “this isn’t Angelgate”.  But honestly, no one would ever mistake it for that – the conversation was far too lame. 

To be clear, there were some people at the dinner that I really like and respect. And there was a good discussion about innovating on the financing model for certain types of companies, which I think is a great insight by John Landry. 

But here’s the really SAD thing about this discussion.  Much of the conversation was so DEFENSIVE – e.g.:

“How do we protect ourselves from getting crammed down by VC’s?”

“How do we make money when the potential for blockbuster outcomes are low?”

“How do we invest when it’s so frothy?” (funny enough, it seemed like everyone was more conservative recently, so I don’t know where this so-called frothiness is coming from).

All real concerns – don’t get me wrong.  But here was the disappointing thing: No one was talking about how to fight like hell to get into more of the blockbuster deals that will really matter.  No one was comparing notes on how to build a stronger entrepreneneurial ecosystem or how to be creative about helping their portfolio companies succeed. 

Instead, a lot of time was spent belaboring the point that venture capital is so challenging as an asset class.  The mean return of venture was quoted several times.

Guess what, I don’t care.  We are not an index fund, and our goal is not to be average.  I want to spend time figuring out a way to invest in and help build a disproportionate % of the extraordinary companies.  Instead, I heard a lot more complaining about how to make more money in non-extraordinairy deals.

I see where other investors are coming from… I really do.  And maybe I’m just too young and naive, but I actually think that as a seed investor, I do have the chance to invest in the transformative businesses of tomorrow.  If I didn’t think that, I would be making a lot more money doing something else with my time. 

Luckily, there are some seed stage investors in Boston that do think this way.  Very few were at the dinner, the rest were not.  But it’s a small handful.  If you want to know who they are, I’m happy to talk offline. 

Rob Go
Rob is a co-founder and Partner at NextView. He tries to spend as much time as possible working with entrepreneurs to develop products that solve important problems for everyday people.