Start-ups are most likely to earn angel investment if they’ve already built a business that shows strong traction and validation, Tugce Ergul, co-founder and CEO Angel Labs tells Ian Vella.

At the Zest conference, local and foreign entrepreneurs networked hard to meet potential business partners, pitch to investors and make contacts. One key person to be on the lookout for is Tugce Ergul, co-founder and CEO of Angel Labs, who will be speaking at the two-day event.

Ergul is of Turkish descent and comes from a family that has been in finance for generations. Fresh out of college, she started out as an investment banker in Paris and then joined Turkey’s first venture capital fund. She later moved to San Francisco to join a Silicon Valley-based fund investing in emerging markets.

“I learned a lot and it was a great opportunity where I was managing more than 30 investments in 11 countries around the world,” Ergul says.

Angel Labs was the next step though, as she wanted to focus on supercharging investor communities around the world, introducing tech investing to high-net-worth individuals coming from traditional backgrounds, and unlocking new smart capital for entrepreneurs.

Ergul explains that Angel Labs is the world’s first investor accelerator. Today it has a presence in 41 countries, focusing on supercharging investor groups. Their main goal is to build the next generation of angels and venture capitalists. These are people who provide capital to start-ups in return for partial ownership, and are ready to invest in early stages taking high risks, even before a company has finished developing its key product.

These type of investors differ considerably from traditional financiers who invest in companies with an already proven business profile and therefore with considerably less risk. Angel investors or angels, as these seed investors are known in the tech-world, are betting against the odds and expect to make outsized returns on their investments.

Angels need to invest in people and follow their gut since most start-ups don’t have any proven track record and are far from turning any profits. This type of investment is definitely riskier and angels should look for decisive and passionate teams who don’t procrastinate and are able to move fast with a clear vision.

That said, investing in start-ups is not a leap in the dark. Ergul explains that the key element that angels look for when investing is people who already have start-up experience. If you haven’t started a company, some investors may suggest joining a funded start-up team as an early employee before you get your hands dirty as a founder. Angel investors like to share what they know with the companies they invest in, so they like teams and founders who listen and learn continuously. A start-up has more chances to attract investment if it is able to satisfy these requirements.

Angel Labs is hoping to launch in Malta and put the country on the map for their global investor community

Most angel investors aren’t wild-eyed risk takers, eager to throw money at a good idea. They want to see real profit potential and a solid and legitimate product that has achieved product-market fit. Start-ups are most likely to earn angel investment if they’ve already built a business that shows strong traction and validation.

Ergul reveals that Angel Labs is hoping to launch in Malta and put the country on the map for their global investor community while kick-starting the local angel investor ecosystem in the country.

Tugce ErgulTugce Ergul

For local start-ups to attract investment, Ergul explains that most first-time entrepreneurs spend too much time on fundraising when they are launching their businesses. Ergul advises entrepreneurs to chase the vision, not the money.

“Build something you believe in and fuel momentum around it. The money will end up following you.”

Courage is also one of the most important qualities you need to have to start your own company. People will outline how your company will fail or why your product isn’t cool enough. It’s important that you find the right balance between listening to valuable feedback and acting on it while at the same time ignoring the destructive criticism aimed just to dishearten you.

Ergul, who has become successful in a heavily imbalanced, male dominated tech industry, strongly recommends to other female entrepreneurs to never be afraid to ask other people for their help or advice.

“I have definitely not launched my business by myself. I’ve had a lot of support and great people who have supported me. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness,” she says.

If you have a great idea for a start-up, just go for it and tackle problems one by one as they arise. If you try to plan for everything and research the market without getting your hands dirty you are bound to be easily put off. It’s much easier to tackle new tasks once you’ve already got things going.

Ultimately, she advises, you should keep a healthy balance. Starting a new business can consume you to a level that’s not healthy – keep a balance so that you’re still in touch with family and friends.

During the Zest event, Ergul and her team are hoping to get to know the local ecosystem and build a solid foundation to successfully launch their operation in Malta. But it does not end there – Angel Labs have already built an amazing community of high-net-worth individuals and businesses in more than 30 countries.

“I would like to see it grow to 100 countries and have millions of people be a part of it,” Ergul says.

Angel Labs is on a mission to build the next generation of investors, changing the face of the venture capital world and seeing this community create a global business phenomenon. If you are attending the Zest conference, don’t miss her speech and be prepared for a quick, captivating pitch if you get an opportunity during the networking event.

This article first appeared in the Zest supplement carried in The Sunday Times of Malta. 

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us