If you were a fan of my series on the Seattle Angel Conference III, you'll find this series on the Seattle Angel Conference IV to be a bit lighter and at the same time more insightful. As you read through this post, think about the quarterfinals in comparison to earlier this year in the SAC III quarterfinals. When I compare the two, I see drastically different companies and am again faced with some that I'm just not interested in as well as some that I am having a hard time choosing between. There were a lot of strong entrepreneurs and good product/market opportunities this round and that makes it much more difficult to choose the best companies to move forward.
The cool thing that we are doing this time that we didn't do last time is that we are really pushing investors to meet with entrepreneurs outside of the 3min pitch. Yes the 3min pitch is an important part of the process, but getting to know entrepreneurs and understanding why they are the best people to execute on those ideas is something that simply can't happen in 3min or even the pre & post networking. I think this will be super valuable for both the angels and the entrepreneurs.
Another thing that we are trying out is using Mattermark to help in evaluating the companies. One of the companies even mentioned their Mattermark status in their pitch which I thought was incredibly interesting. Looking at my favorites out of the companies that pitched during the first week of the quarterfinals, two were in Mattermark with mid 500s for their scores. I haven't fully digested how best to use the score, for example is a lower score combined with a strong team and product/market an indicator of hidden value or is a higher score a measure of the ability of the team. There are certainly plenty of companies above and below this low 500 level score, in fact the top score for pre-Series A funded startups in Seattle/Portland is 1276 so the 500 range is right in the middle. Some of those higher scored startups have been around for a lot longer or are particularly focused on consumer so I'm not sure how the weighting solves for this.
What is interesting is that cross referencing the Mattermark score against the Geekwire 200 score resulted pretty similarly. One of the startups that was in the 500s in Mattermark was right around the middle of the GW200 list. So again, the question is how relevant is that to making an actual investment? I'm not sure I have the answer yet and if these companies make it into the semi-finals it will be much easier to begin to answer those questions. Personally I am still relying on (and continuing to refine) my own investment checklist. It would be great if some of these quantitative items could start to make their way into early stage investing as I have a reasonable number of quantitative items on my real estate and public market investing checklists.
We meet next week to hear the remaining pitches and make some decisions about who moves to the semi-final stage. If you are interested, here are details about the semi-finals from earlier this year. I will be looking up both the Mattermark & the Geekwire rankings for the startups that pitch next week as well and recording where they land (and track where they go in our process).