Great Lakes Angels Vet Deals, Try Not To Be A–holes

5/6/11Follow @xconomy

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closely and/or do their own research. On the flip side, investors tend to fall in love with the technology when it’s the management team that will really make or break the company.

“I’ve never made a dime off technology,” says Jack Ahrens, general partner with TGap Ventures, a venture firm in Kalamazoo, MI.

Investors must also make up their minds rather quickly.

“Every minute you spend on a deal that you’re not interested in is wasted time,” says angel Yan Ness, who’s also CEO of Online Technologies in Ann Arbor, MI.

The Great Lake angels had a chance to use some of these skills. Two startups, InfoReady and iRule, presented to the group. Below are quick and dirty summaries of their pitches and the angels’ reactions.

InfoReady

Pitch: The startup has developed cloud-based software that does three things: search and aggregate information on grants, clinical trials, and intellectual property; allow users to collaborate on that information using social media tools; and track the group’s work. InfoReady already has 32 customers, including the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, and Washtenaw Intermediate School District.

Reaction:

Pros-Angels were impressed with strength of the management team. Founder/CEO Bhushan Kulkarni previously founded four startups, including Quantum, InTouch, and GDI InfoTech, an Inc. 500 company.

“He does it, he knows it, he gets it,” says one angel.

Cons-Angels questioned InfoReady’s annual subscription pricing model, which might prevent the company from scaling up sales of their software. Others wondered if InfoReady can land business customers, not just universities and non-profit groups.

iRule

Pitch: The company has developed an application that allows a user’s smart phone or tablet to control a household’s audio-visual equipment, essentially turning it into a universal remote for televisions, DVD players, computers, video game players, and stereos. iRule is also developing technology that allows it to record and collect customer information, including favorite shows or music, and send relevant advertising to their mobile devices.

Reaction:

Pros-Angels liked the company’s vision.

“They think big,” one angel says. “It’s good. It’s healthy. They know where they’re going.”

Cons-Some thought iRule president Itai Ben-Gai gave short thrift to potential competitors.

“It’s a huge market need but it’s a crowded market,” an angel says. “He didn’t really talk about it.”

Another angel was also uncomfortable with the company collecting so much information on their customers. Some consumers may have privacy concerns.

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