Skip to main content

Should VCs buy out angels?

Interesting discussion at VentureWoods between Deepak Shenoy and Roshan D'Silva on this "perennial topic". Here are their first posts (in the comments section):


Deepak Shenoy said,

Alok, true - there is reason to think about why one wants to exit. As a stock market investor, I have made decisions to sell companies at (say) 400% profits, when the company went on towards 1000% of what I bought - yet, I wasn’t sulking in a corner. Because a) 400% is pretty nice and b) I’d reached that comfort level of profits.

Angels may not want to stay the distance, which could be much longer than their cash needs, and if the current valuation is attractive enough for them to exit. As individuals I would imagine that angel investors are the kinds that put in Rs. 10 lakhs to Rs. 50 lakhs in a business - and honestly, there are a number of such people who have this kind of cash lying idle in bank accounts (idle = they don’t need it right now). Such people can be angels, but they won’t be because VCs won’t let them book profits until the final exit, years away. Which again they have no control over because further rounds have diluted their stake too much.

The US has a huge background of such deal flow, but it’s absent in India. I was hoping a VC would take the lead and say that they would fund angel exits here (even partially so) and more angels would come out of the woodwork. We need those angels, if only to make more companies VC worthy…


Roshan D'Silva said,


Hi Deepak,

I think the angels you’re referring to are probably those that fall into one of the two categories:-
1. Purely financial a.k.a the family rich
2. People whose net worth does not afford them the luxury to ‘angel’ - (20k - 100k usd in the bank wanting to angel?? ;-) )

They typically make the usual mistakes - getting in at too low a valuation, adding no value, bickering, neglecting paperwork etc. etc. Category 2 usually in a few years realizes that they’re not in the ‘zone’ and go into other asset classes. For Category 1, it really does not matter.

The really good angels are very focussed on getting their portfolio companies funded and typically their angel rounds are done as debt convertible into equity at a discount to the subsequent round valuation. This also eliminates any negotiation between the angel and the founder and motivates them both to do ‘fair deals’.

For companies (trying to raise money) or VCs (wanting to invest in a company) who is stuck with angels of categories 1 &2 I would never suggest providing an exit to the angels. I would rather make the founder take on debt (which could come from the VC or a new ‘real’ angel) and let him/her negotiate to buy out these guys before the VC round. If the founder’s unwilling to do so, I would want to think along Alok’s lines.

Of course, I’m talking about ‘real’ VC’s investing in ‘real’ companies that can exit at 100mn+ numbers.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports.

Popular posts from this blog

How I Raised Funding - Priyanka Agarwal, Wishberry

You have to be confident and shameless while crowdfunding. Priyanka Agarwal, Wishberry shares on how to succeed in crowd funding with Venture Intelligence in this  interview. Priyanka also candidly shares how the team built Wishberry, raised funding from top angel investors like Rajan Anandan, on pivoting, and difficulties in raising capital for entrepreneurs operating in niche spaces not chased by VCs. Q: What does Wishberry do?Priyanka Agarwal: In its latest avatar, Wishberry has pivoted into crowd financing of low budget films (INR 1-5 Cr). We are essentially trying to create an internet platform for investment opportunities for HNIs in films including Marathi, Tamil, Kannada, or films targeting the global diaspora.

L-R: Co-founders Anshulika Dubey & Priyanka Agarwal, Wishberry Given that you are building a marketplace, how did Wishberry solve the Chicken and Egg problem? Beyond the “all or nothing” model what did Wishberry do to pull in more artistes and investors? First, you…

Interview with One97's Vijay Shekhar Sharma

Venture Intelligence featured an interview with Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder & Managing Director of One97 Communications as part of the July issue of the US-IVCA / Venture IntelligenceIndia VC report. One97 is one of the pioneering start-ups in the Indian Mobile VAS space and recently raised its first round of funding led by SAIF Partners.

Some extracts from the interview:

VI: How were you funding the company until now?
VSS: We were the first company to put a revenue sharing model in place with operators. That gave us recurring revenue and made the company cash positive.

VI: What were your challenges in fund raising?
VSS: Two challenges: first, deciding on the network the fund could provide and second, the kind of size commitment they can make for future investments. A third factor was the comfort with the VC: what kind of team it was, the chemistry between team members, the kind of person who will come onto our board. The VC on the board becomes your everyday business partner.

V…

How doing Outsized Partnerships led Karadi down the Wrong Path

Business Line has a fascinating account of the travails faced by Chennai-based children's entertainment and education brand, Karadi Tales, in its search for strategic / financial partners. Viswanath has been fire-fighting to keep afloat Karadi Tales (now a unit of Karadi Path), the company he and his wife Shobha founded in 1996. A distribution agreement with Times Music had landed them in court. And the merger with ACK Media (publishers of Amar Chitra Katha) and subsequent acquisition by Kishore Biyani’s Future Ventures didn’t pan out as expected.  ...The partnership (with Times Music) turned sour when there was a change in leadership at Times Music...When Viswanath cited the exit clause and asked for the agreement to be nullified, his partner refused to oblige and instead took him to court, which issued a stay order. Viswanath and his team, despite founding Karadi Tales, could no longer use the brand. “It took us two years to get out of the case,” says Viswanath, who also had to fa…