Angel Investor Joanne Wilson Talks about Have to Have and the NY scene

10/16/12Follow @jpruth

It is hard to find a more New York savvy angel investor than Joanne Wilson. She has backed local startups such as DailyWorth, Nestio, and Lover.ly. Wilson also co-chairs the annual ITP Women Entrepreneurial Festival at New York University and blogs about women in technology and her other interests as Gotham Gal.

One-year-old Have to Have, one of her latest investments, is a registry for online shopping that lets users bookmark items they want to purchase later—or hope their friends buy for them. Comparable players in this space include newcomer Hukkster. Have to Have raised an undisclosed amount of funding in June from Wilson and other angels. The company has built widgets to drive consumer interaction on websites for Condé Nast Interactive, Marie Claire, and The Daily Front Row.

Wilson also happens to be the better half of famed venture capitalist Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures. She spoke to Xconomy about what she found appealing in Have to Have and what she is watching in the New York startup community.

Xconomy: What gets you interested in a company?

Joanne Wilson: When I see something that grabs my attention, and Have to Have is a perfect example, it’s businesses that are trying to do something different from everyone else in the space. When a business comes to me and you have really good entrepreneurs who are trying to change an industry—to think differently and are taking a completely different approach than any of their competitors in the space—it makes me take pause.

X: Some once-hot areas such as daily deals have cooled dramatically. What spaces are you watching?

JW: I hate daily deals. I see tons of discount programs they say they are going to build. I’m not a fan of the discount program because it’s a short-term fix. It’s not building a business in a long-term way. I’m pretty much a generalist; I’ll look at deals in multiple spaces.

X: In the New York landscape, we see a lot of fashion and media startups. Do any of them standout?

JW: I have deals that I’ve done in media. Have to Have is the only deal that I’ve done in the fashion space because they’re taking it from a completely different angle. That’s an area that I’m seeing change in. You can’t [overlook] the large companies. Many of the large companies are looking at what’s happening in … Next Page »

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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