Open Angel Forum: Brilliant Investors and Amazing Companies
The Open Angel Forum was an amazing event and anybody who has a chance to should apply. You may already know this, but 100+ companies applied and over 50 investors applied (yes, investors applied!). Only 5 companies and 20 investors were accepted. Even Jeff Clavier (one of the smartest, classiest super-angels in the Valley) said to me “this was like the Who’s Who of Angel Investing.” He was impressed. Enough said.
Jason Calacanis and Tyler Crowley put on a fantastic event and corralled the best angels in the Valley to come. The list included Chris Sacca, Kevin Rose, Mike Maples, Jeff Clavier, Andrea Zurek, 3 representatives from Ron Conway’s SV Angel, Dave Morin, Matt Mullenweg, Narendra Rocherolle, Joshua Shachter, Cyan Banister, Mark Suster and Manu Kumar (Google those names for bios; I’m sorry if I forgot someone!). It was absurdly nerve-racking (though I tried not to show it) to go in front of that crowd.
Udemy was lucky enough to be invited to the Open Angel Forum, and we are extremely thankful to Tyler, Jason for the opportunity. Also, thank you to WSGR and Binc for sponsoring. Chris Sacca of lowercase Capital and Kevin Rose of Digg fame were the local hosts. Sacca and Tyler especially went out of their way to make sure everyone felt at home. Sacca spent more than 10 min with each company after the event to make sure we got feedback about our pitch/company.
The hosts kept the event fairly light-hearted, considering what was at stake for the presenters. As previous OAF attendees mentioned, almost everyone drank a beer before presenting and there were constant jokes about how every company had “adult” applications.
I mentioned this earlier, but the quality of companies was impressive. We were glad to be up their with them and I’m sure we’ll keep in touch with them as we continue along our paths. Also, I expect all of them to get funded – and if they don’t I’ll lose significant faith in the angel investing process.
As Mark Suster noted, Thumbtack.com has done a great job building a marketplace for services. I particularly liked Xachi Pets, which is a furby-looking toy that is controllable by iPhone. Pip.io has a beautiful product, and over 10,000 users. The most impressive companies were led by academics-turned-entrepreneurs. ThereNow has already sold its technology to tons of schools and has millions in grant funding. IQ Engines blew everyone in the room away with its image-recognition technology.
All in all, for Udemy, the event was a definite success. We got great feedback on our product and I think people really enjoyed the potential of democratizing learning. We already received follow-up from some of the great angels in the room, which I think speaks to the fact that the room was filled with serious investors. Nobody attended who wasn’t ready to make a deal that night.
Finally, I want to thank Adeo Ressi. He and the Founder Institute are the reason we are where we are (still a long way to go!) and any entrepreneur who hasn’t applied yet, you’re a fool. Go apply now.
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