Brian Cohen is the Chairman of NY Angels, the founding partner of NY Venture Partners and the author of An Angel Insider Reveals How Entrepreneurs Can Raise Smart Money For Their Billion Dollar Idea. At the 3rd Annual LDV Vision Summit in 2016, he was a judge for the Startup Competition. Evan had a chance to catch up with him in April about the extensive investment opportunities leveraging visual technologies.
Discount tickets still available for the next LDV Vision Summit May 24 & 25 in NYC.
You see many startup pitches as Chairman of NY Angels and via your fund NY Venture Partners. What are the three most important reasons you choose to invest in a team?
- I love it when I see a team fully in control of what they're doing. Raising money is an important part of their business. If they understand the key principles of the process and fully engage with their investors it's a good sign that they can run their business well.
- Have they taken the time to fully engage with their early customers - listening, learning and continuing to better understand them? Do they know what they're thinking not just what they're doing
- Are they realistic about what they can achieve? Are their initial goals those that can be highly leveraged so that they pave a stronger and faster path to a more successful future
You have invested in several visual technology businesses including being one of the early investors in Pinterest. Why did you invest in them?
Frankly, I'm a very visual person. I tend to see words as images and create a more intimate sense of a relationship to the world by doing this. In a world of hyper speed it's pretty clear that people must communicate through visual ideas and not rely on long winded tangled phrase.
What business sector do you believe will be most disrupted by computer vision?
It's extremely broad. Anywhere we need to see and experience things more clearly and faster will be affected. The travel industry will be dramatically affected because people don't have to "go there" to "be there". We will have immersion rooms that create a new reality of place.
What was your biggest mistake as an investor and what did you learn from it?
Very early on I began to look for reasons to do a deal not for reasons not to do a deal. It's easy to see the challenges and be fearful. It's a lot harder to recognize and believe in the clarity of the big vision and see and understand why something will work.
You were a judge for our LDV Vision Summit 2016 startup competition. What did you learn during our last Summit? Who do you think should attend our next LDV Vision Summit May 24 & 25?
I learned that we're really just at the very early stages of applying visual communications to solving problems. Anyone trying to better solve their customer's problems needs a better appreciation for how visual communications can be leveraged. If you are building a business with any visual data, computer vision and artificial intelligence then you should definitely should attend the annual LDV Vision Summit in May.
You wrote a great book called “What Every Angel Investor Wants You to Know: An Insider Reveals How to Get Smart Funding for Your Billion Dollar Idea.” What was your goal in writing this book? Do you have a success story after writing this book that you can share?
Writing the book was an opportunity to more fully describe my personal path to successful angel investing. I wanted people to know that there are best practices that should be followed. Unfortunately, most angel investors and entrepreneurs really don't understand one another. My goal was for them to be more aligned and supportive of one another. That leads to much better outcomes.
I have had many more founders contact me as a result of writing back. They appreciate the warm words but strong convictions of running a smart fundraising process.
You can find more about Brian via NY Venture Partners, NY Angels and his book An Angel Insider Reveals How Entrepreneurs Can Raise Smart Money For Their Billion Dollar Idea.