Having been an angel investor for more than 20 years, there is probably no mistake that I did not make. The mistakes that I made were at various stages of the investment life cycle, right from poor deal-selection and botched-up transaction management, to sub-optimal relationship with founders and errors in exit.
One of my greatest regrets is missing out on investing in Tala (formerly InVenture). It had all the right ingredients: an impressive solo founder, disruptive idea, and a working model. I was the deal lead for Tala, representing a group of angel investors from Mumbai Angels.
There were hiccups in putting together the transaction, ranging from the founder turning temporarily non-responsive to investors changing their mind on their commitments, not to mention the founding team getting structured. Having been a long-time entrepreneur and angel investor, I should have taken these irritants in my stride, but I got irritated and decided against investing, which is highly unusual for a deal lead. Needless to say, Tala and founder Shivani Siroya went on to do very well.
Subsequent rounds and valuations were stellar, and quite likely this one investment could have returned my entire angel investment portfolio investment value to me.
Having seen more than a thousand deals closely, Tala does not stand alone in my anti-portfolio. There are several others.
As if my faults as an angel investor are not enough, sometimes I suffer from the faults of others. Recently, I committed to invest in Elon Musk’s SpaceX as part of a syndicate of angel investors. Being a large cross-border deal, substantial paperwork was involved and my fellow angels were lazy in turning in their documents on time. As a result, our investment did not fructify.
Ajeet Khurana is chief executive officer of Zebpay and an angel investor.