I’m a Small-Time Investor

I hate the phrase “angel investor.” I hate it with the fiery rage of one thousand Betelgeuses. There is nothing angelic about investing. In my mind, the phrase conjures images of wealthy patrons of the Renaissance who supported talented but destitute artists. In return, these patrons would obtain the erstwhile equivalent of karma points, Klout or whatever. Perhaps even a flattering portrait (your face with the “Brad Pitt” Instagram filter applied to it). Whoever coined the phrase “angel investor”, I want to have a few words with you. Hint: the first one starts with an f.

The problem is that I fit the definition! I like to occasionally make small-time investments (low 5-figures) in seed-stage startups with the following criteria:


  • I really like the founding team. I enjoy chatting with them, sharing experiences, feeling like I’m playing a minor role in their potential success.
  • I have a decent understanding of what they are trying to do (e.g. things that I’ve had professional experience with such as search software).
  • They know what they want, and won’t be easily steered by professional investors.
  • They have a very strong sense of ethics, and believe that what they are doing will add value to the world somehow.
  • Needless to say, I believe that there is an expectation of a positive return on my investment. This is no charity. I don’t wear a halo.


That said, I refuse to be called an angel investor. I’m just a dude who got reasonably lucky, and now can afford to play fantasy VC. I’m a has-been who probably would get sick if he tried to start another startup. I’m fat and happy playing the nickel slots. I’d love to say I was an early investor in Twitter, even if I’d invested $100 and got $4000 out.


Silicon Valley is more similar to Las Vegas than many people would have you believe. The main difference is that in Vegas most people gamble on games of chance. In Silicon Valley we believe we have an edge. Do we really? I don’t know. But the fact that we believe it is what makes it fun.


In short: I’m a small-time investor; I’m in the right place for it, and I have a few chips to play a fun game of luck and perceived skill. But if you call me “angel investor”, you’re asking me to go all Ezekiel 25:17 on you 🙂



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One Reply to “I’m a Small-Time Investor”

  1. What is the best way to access small investors without going through the endless signups and fees for sites that are filled with fraud and usually do not have real investors – I am just wanting to provide a straight forward deal. Proof and a good return. There seems to be a huge market need for the very small investor.

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