Entrepreneur and founding investor in five companies, including Open Market.
Investment Areas: Software, information technology, and healthcare.
Noteworthy Recent Investments: BzzAgent, Skyhook, Aliaswire, Relay Rides, Smarterer, Sociogramics.
Investment Philosophy: "Invest in dynamic entrepreneurs in fields I like and understand. I look for some barriers to entry (IP), and if successful the potential for the company to be a large player. I try to stay away from small niche plays."
CEO of DataXu and chairman of Nexage; previously vice president at Nokia, founding investor and CEO at Enpocket, and executive vice president at CMGI and Engage Technologies.
Investment Areas: Mobile payments, digital media, enterprise productivity.
Noteworthy Recent Investments: Nexage, Kinvey, Yesware, Swiss Clear Global.
Investment Philosophy: "I invest in strong entrepreneurs building products---in markets that I understand and situations where I can add value personally."
CEO of BzzAgent (sold in 2011 to dunnhumby, a division of Tesco); executive chair of Smarterer; investor with Boston Seed Capital; co-founder of Intelligent.ly.
Investment Areas: "Somewhere along the spectrum of sane to insane."
Noteworthy Recent Investments: RunKeeper, Proctorcam, Dataminr, Relay Rides, Klout, Smarterer, Promoboxx, Help Scout.
Investment Philosophy: "I like ideas that tap into fundamental human need sets and psychological motivations. Once you’ve done that, the rest is easy (OK, easier). Otherwise, I’m a cliché, but true: I like amazing founders who will scrap, fight, and crush their way to making their vision a reality---and won’t stop until they’ve done so."
Chief product officer of HubSpot; former CEO of Performable (sold to HubSpot); previously co-founder/CTO of Lookery, founder/CTO of Compete, and CTO of BuyerZone.
Investment Areas: Software, analytics, and social media.
Noteworthy Recent Investments: Locately, Rapportive, Help Scout, Shareaholic.
Investment Philosophy: "I look at two things: people and market. There's only three things that matter at the beginning: market, team, and timing (the last is uncontrollable). In the team side I look for passionate people who can hustle. The founding team all have to either sell or design/code, no philosophers or 'other' allowed."
Mentor, coach, and personal advisor to CEOs and entrepreneurs.
Investment Areas: Software, Internet, big data, materials, optics, analytics, consumer.
Noteworthy Recent Investments: HubSpot, SCVNGR, Shareaholic, Localytics, Smarterer, Constant Contact, Carbonite.
Investment Philosophy: "Find bright, passionate, high-integrity entrepreneurs. Get to know them and understand how they think. Where there is strong intellectual compatibility, invest."
CEO and co-founder, BuysideFX; previously founded eSecLending and worked at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers, Nomura Securities, and Dwight Asset Management.
Investment Areas: Enterprise software, mobile, fintech.
Noteworthy Recent Investments: Crashlytics, Objective Logistics, Localmind, EverTrue, Kinvey, Ubersense, BISON, CardMunch (sold to LinkedIn), UpNext (sold to Amazon).
Investment Philosophy: "Make lots of modest bets, no big bets. I want to invest like Dharmesh Shah when I grow up..."
Founder of Swipely; joined Netscape in 1996 as its youngest employee; co-founder of Tellme Networks (acquired by Microsoft in 2007).
Investment Areas: Internet software, especially Software as a Service.
Noteworthy Recent Investments: GrabCAD, GetAround, SavingStar, Treatful (recently acquired by OpenTable).
Investment Philosophy: "Invest in strong teams executing on a large, winnable market opportunity, in a field/sector where I can add significant value beyond simply writing a check."
Chairman of the Association for Corporate Growth of Boston; previously chairman of MIT Enterprise Forum.
Investment Areas: Mobile, SaaS, Internet, healthcare IT, and data management.
Noteworthy Recent Investments: Brainshark, OwnerIQ, Ntirety, ParElastic, Research Frontier, Beacon Hospice (sold to Amedisys), Hybricon (sold to Curtis Wright).
Investment Philosophy: "Two distinct models: 1) Seed and early stage venture capital: primarily invest through CommonAngels; 2) Middle market private equity."
Developer Advocate at Google; former startup evangelist at Microsoft; veteran of Forte Software, AltaVista, Napster, Bowstreet, and Groove Networks.
Investment Areas: Mobile, social, location, games, payments, enterprise software.
Noteworthy Recent Investments: WifiSLAM, Tap Lab, SpaceMonkey, Nimble, Path, Aras, Punchbowl, Vkernel, Swype.
Investment Philosophy: "My investment filter is: Social, Location, Mobile, Games, Payments... I look for companies that have at least 3 of the 5 areas in their product."
CommonAngels board member and former COO of Harmonix.
Investment Areas: Mostly software and Internet. "I've also invested in robotics, flying cars, a winery, a craft brewery, and a couple of companies that would fall under 'medical.'"
Noteworthy Recent Investments: Help Scout, Promoboxx, Tap Lab, Pact, Mortar, Ubersense, docTrackr, Psykosoft, Testive, Yesware, Playrific, PowerInbox, QFactor, Coach Up, ParElastic.
Investment Philosophy: "Most important to me is the team. A smart, flexible team that will learn from inevitable mistakes and make the necessary adjustments to succeed. I'm also attracted to businesses that can be very capital efficient, are 'lean and mean.' And those that provide some diversification (thus the winery, etc.)."
Entrepreneur, inventor, philanthropist, and angel investor. Former CEO of SMTP and AccuRev; founder of Fast Engines.
Investment Areas: "They range from companies that solve challenges of personal aviation to social enterprises that improve the quality of lives in African villages."
Noteworthy Recent Investments: Terrafugia, AccuRev, CoachUp, Double Robotics, Enertiv, Global Cycle Solutions, GoLoco, iAMscientist, PDFfiller.
Investment Philosophy: "My goal is to mentor founders of early-stage startups that will improve the world. I invest in people. As an angel investor I have the freedom to be loyal to individuals, the founders of companies, rather than to organizations. My primary interest is not in maximizing a return on every single investment but in working with founders and helping them develop themselves and their ideas."
Co-founder of BlockCross Holdings and board member of CommonAngels; founder and former CEO of The LongView Group (now owned by Linedata).
Investment Areas: "FinTech, others except for healthcare and biotech."
Noteworthy Recent Investments: Disruptor Beam, docTrackr, OfferPop, ParElastic.
Investment Philosophy: "I only invest where I have confidence in the management team: their knowledge of the game, track record of working together, and skin in the game."
Member of Hub Angels and Launchpad Venture Group; founder of Golden Seeds (Boston); co-founder of Quarry Technologies and AXON Networks.
Investment Areas: Information technology, recent focus on learning and education.
Noteworthy Recent Investments: InCrowd, TenMarks, Copiun, Playrific, Zipcar.
Investment Philosophy: "Nothing is more important than experienced folks sitting on a board---to help set real and high expectations...I look for great ideas, great leaders, and great teams."
Founding CEO and primary investor in Z Corporation.
Investment Areas: Primarily technology, ideally electromechanical hardware with software/electronics/materials component.
Noteworthy Recent Investments: Tea Forte, and an unnamed tech-based apparel business.
Investment Philosophy: "I'm looking for a market that is big enough that you can build a business but not too big to attract large incumbents...I'm looking for strong intellectual property...I like a young, hungry team that wants to build a reasonably-sized business (eg, $50M revenues) with a modest amount of angel capital ($2-3M)."
Angel investor, startup company mentor, corporate board member, and CEO advisor.
Investment Areas: Cloud computing, consumer Internet, hardware (data acquisition and human/machine interfaces), fitness/sports.
Noteworthy Recent Investments: Leap Motion, FitnessKeeper, Ubersense, Zagster, EverTrue, Oblong, Kinvey, SocialSci, UpNext.
Investment Philosophy: "I like to invest in complete teams that have learned from a couple of failures. Specific ideas are not too important to me, but whatever the team is trying to do should be pretty well thought out. I also prefer when the team has a solid idea about distribution strategy...Generally speaking, I invest in the seed and hold money back for subsequent rounds."
Member of CommonAngels; formerly with BancBoston Ventures, Bank of America, FleetBoston, and Bank of Boston.
Investment Areas: Enterprise and infrastructure software, mobile, ad tech, big data.
Noteworthy Recent Investments: Apperian, Blaze Software (bought by Akamai), docTrackr, Fiksu, Help Scout, InQuira (bought by Oracle), Ironwood, Linkable Networks, N-of-One, PracticallyGreen, ProctorCam, SmartCells (bought by Merck), YieldBot.
Investment Philosophy: "Team, team, team. Market, market, market."
Founder & former CEO of Contact Networks; founder & former CEO of Strong Numbers; former principal at the Boston Consulting Group; former investment analyst at World Bank.
Investment Areas: "B2B technologies; hard-to-build technologies."
Noteworthy Recent Investments: Image Rights, Yesware, Baydin, InStream.
Investment Philosophy: "Great founders, great people, great teams."
Co-founder and CEO of LuckyLabs; previously co-founder and CEO of GameLogic, Gamesville.com, and InterLab (all acquired).
Investment Areas: Tech, media, consumer goods, financial services, healthcare.
Noteworthy Recent Investments: Sproutel, Conduit Labs, Ricks Picks, Leader Bank, Eastham Capital, Acres4 Gaming, Pangea Media, LuckyLabs.
Investment Philosophy: "I invest in people first, ideas second--ideas die easily; people, hopefully, less so. Also, I try to lose as little money as possible."
Software veteran and innovator; former CTO/Senior VP Development at Lotus Development, Dun & Bradstreet Software, Cullinet Software, McCormack & Dodge, the list goes on.
Investment Areas: Enterprise software (cloud, mobile), Internet of Things-type companies.
Noteworthy Recent Investments: Maven, Fatwire, Endeca, Tubifi, Psykosoft, Testive, Libboo, docTrackr, Zagster, Sonian, Apperian.
Investment Philosophy: “I like companies that have two or more founders, and ideally one that, in the domain they’re in, has very good sales and marketing experience, and a tech guy that’s awesome but also has really good domain knowledge in the field they’re going after.”
Managing director of Launchpad Venture Group; co-founder of Advanced Visual Systems.
Investment Areas: Early stage, New England technology companies: software (mainly business, some consumer), medical devices, medical diagnostics, biotech, and cleantech.
Noteworthy Recent Investments: Qstream, Avaxia Biologics, Precision Ventures.
Investment Philosophy: "I invest in smart, tenacious entrepreneurial teams that have a deep understanding of their market. I like products that solve real problems for the customer in markets that are over $100M in size. I invest in local companies so that I can leverage my personal network to help companies succeed."
Co-founder of Adelphic Mobile and Apricot Capital; startup experience includes Quattro Wireless (acquired by Apple), m-Qube (acquired by VeriSign) and WebHosting.com (acquired by SBC).
Investment Areas: "My primary focus is on mobile. I've also invested in ad tech, analytics, SaaS, and BaaS."
Noteworthy Recent Investments: Crashlytics, Kinvey, Placester, awe.sm, OnSwipe.
Investment Philosophy: "I want to invest in entrepreneurs with high integrity. I want to invest in companies solving complex problems with innovative technology."
Investor in some 120 companies over the last 20 years.
Investment Areas: "Mostly high-tech, but I can be talked into a lot of stuff, particularly if a friend of mine is involved.”
Noteworthy Recent Investments: Netegrity, Constant Contact, Stonyfield Farm Yogurt, Pixability, Shopsy, Codon, OnChip Power, Copiun, True Fit, FX Aligned, InCrowd, ParElastic.
Investment Philosophy: “It’s the entrepreneur.”
Co-managing director, Launchpad Venture Group; board member, Boston World Partnerships.
Investment Areas: "I invest in technology-oriented companies based in the Boston area in the Internet, software, so-lo-mo, green, and life sciences spaces."
Noteworthy Recent Investments: Copiun, Incentive Targeting, Wiggio, Daily Grommet, Localytics, 3 Play Media, Crocodocs, Punchbowl, Qstream, OnChip Power, Avaxia, JamHub.
Investment Philosophy: "I look for superb entrepreneurs, going after interesting markets, with smart, differentiated, and defensible solutions, in that order."
Co-founder and founding CEO of Vertica Systems (acquired by HP); former SVP and CIO at Infinity Pharmaceuticals.
Investment Areas: Health IT, crowdfunding, life sciences, information technology, Internet, software, educational technology/e-learning.
Noteworthy Recent Investments: Upstart, Apptegic, VoltDB, Transform Health, Firecracker, Docphin, GiveForward, Cloudant, JobFig, SharesPost, CloudSwitch.
Investment Philosophy: "I invest in high-potential, mission-driven founders, primarily in: improving education through IT; improving the lives of patients through higher-quality and broader access to health/medical information; software and services that empower individuals and organizations to compete on analytics; software and information services that enable companies to move their IT infrastructures to the cloud."
Co-founder of FanSnap (acquired by Nextag in 2011); principal at Computational Biology Corp. (acquired by Agilent); founder, President, and CEO, Revenio (acquired by Vignette).
Investment Areas: Projects that intersect physical products and software.
Noteworthy Recent Investments: GrabCAD, Care.com, Shareaholic, Digium.
Investment Philosophy: ."It's all about the people: I like smart teams with a solid initial idea that also have the skill and mindset to iterate and evolve as they learn more about the opportunity."
Professional investor and advisor; co-founder, Boston Golden Seeds forum; former attorney.
Investment Areas: Internet-based consumer facing businesses, some B2B SaaS.
Noteworthy Recent Investments: RallyPoint, Retroficiency, Playrific, ezCater, Zipcar, TaskRabbit, Daily Grommet.
Investment Philosophy: "I like companies that are solving a major pain point, that are in the forefront of innovation, and (as you will hear from everyone) are being run by smart, passionate entrepreneurs."
Founder & Chair, MIT Entrepreneurship Center (now Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship), Co-founder, chair, MIT Sloan Management of Technological Innovation & Entrepreneurship Group; Chair, MIT Sloan Entrepreneurship & Innovation MBA Track; Co-founder & Director: Meditech, Sohu.com, & many more; Co-founder: Zero Stage Capital, CommonAngels.
Investment Areas: All areas of technology.
Noteworthy Recent Investments: HubSpot, Visible Measures, Daktari Diagnostics, VisionScope, Fiksu, Locu, Kibits, Adherean, ImmuneXcite.
Investment Philosophy: "I focus first on the people, preferably a team. Then I look at the opportunity both in terms of the technology uniqueness and the market."
Founder/CEO of TrueLens and SocMetrics; founder of Going.com (acquired by AOL) and product leader at iPhrase (acquired by IBM).
Investment Areas: B2B, mobile, marketing (*heads-down on a startup, not actively investing).
Noteworthy Recent Investments: OnSwipe, Shareaholic, peerTransfer, Crashlytics, Rapportive, Locately.
Investment Philosophy: "Having worked in both B2B and B2C, my investment philosophy is that value lies at the intersection of listening to customers, innovating, and finding a business model. I look for entrepreneurs that have a similar approach and where I feel we can develop a good relationship and I can add value."
Former CEO, co-founder, and chairman of Netezza (sold to IBM); founder and former CEO of Applix (acquired by IBM).
Investment Areas: Enterprise and consumer technology, including SaaS and big data.
Noteworthy Recent Investments: Pinterest, ParElastic, Apptegic, Active Broadband Networks.
Investment Philosophy: "I think my biggest focus is finding the right entrepreneur. In my mind that is everything. Space is the second consideration...The team is the most important thing and good teams will always have success."
Co-founder and CTO of HubSpot.
Investment Areas: Primarily Internet software (both B2B and B2C).
Noteworthy Recent Investments: Rapportive (acquired by LinkedIn), Okta, StackExchange, Visible Measures, Shareaholic.
Investment Philosophy: "I invest primarily in seed rounds. I believe in supporting early-stage entrepreneurs who have simple, understandable ideas. I prefer investing in companies whose product I might use myself."
Founder and CEO of Visible Measures; co-founder of Creative Aspects, The Cambridge Intelligence Agency, and Infraweb.
Investment Areas: Digital media, consumer tech.
Noteworthy Recent Investments: HubSpot, Shareaholic, Kibits, Misfit Wearables, Stash, Nimble, DynoMed.
Investment Philosophy: "I typically invest in entrepreneurs who I know personally or who are trusted by people I trust. I look for markets that look like they could be big down the road, markets that are going through change, or markets that seem like they should be soon evolving. I also look for opportunities where markets are converging, creating new trends."
Co-founder, Managing Director, Project 11; founding trustee, The Awesome Foundation.
Investment Areas: Very early-stage tech companies (primarily software and Internet).
Noteworthy Recent Investments: Locately, Tracelytics, Spindle, Adelphic Mobile.
Investment Philosophy: "I want to work with founders who are tenacious yet flexible, good listeners and active learners...I believe there is opportunity where the world gets flatter, fatter, and smarter through the growth of communications, complexity, and computation."
Founder of Hub Angels and chairman of the Angel Capital Association; former manager of international sales and business development for Xerox's Adaptive Products Division; former managing director of Winchester International Group.
Investment Areas: Healthcare, life sciences, IT, Internet, communications.
Noteworthy Recent Investments: Zipcar, Intelligent Bio-Sciences, Copiun, Incentive Targeting. Localytics, DraftKings, Mobee.
Investment Philosophy: "We look for exceptional core management teams that are attacking a significant addressable market with defensible technology, using an efficient capital model, and gaining early traction."
Founder of Avid, Wildfire Communications, and Warner Research.
Investment Areas: Internet, software, electronics, and mechanical devices.
Noteworthy Recent Investments: Posterous (acquired by Twitter), Leap Motion, Axio, GreenGoose, ImpulseSave, Memrise, Urban Hero Sports.
Investment Philosophy: "I like to be very, very early stage. I like to invest before the key product decisions have been made. I invest in the entrepreneur, not so much in the first product. Instead of looking for market fit on markets that exist, I like to focus on the intentions of the founders. I tend not to be very focused on skill sets. I also make the decision in one meeting."
Angel investors play a crucial role in any startup ecosystem, by making bets on companies at their earliest stages—to help them develop prototypes, get through beta phases, and attract early customers and the next level of investors. It seems every time a Boston-area company announces it has landed some seed funding, a mysterious crop of angel investors is behind it. So we wanted to take a closer look at some of these key players around town—where their careers have taken them, what sectors they’re keeping an eye on, and how they go about deciding when to write those checks.
We present to you: the top angel investors from around Boston and New England.
Our method for determining which angels made the cut was more holistic than scientific. We started with existing sources, like techie Jon Pierce’s blog post on top Boston angels from a few years back. His readers suggested plenty of additions in the comments, so we took a deeper look at those and also tapped our contacts in the Boston innovation arena (and beyond) to get their take on who the current movers and shakers are. In the end, our criteria consisted of a mix of recommendations from the community and a vigorous track record of recent investing activity. Some of these angels invest primarily or exclusively through an angel fund, and we tried to note where that was the case.
One clarification: we focused on those who invest personally, so we excluded the managing directors of funds such as CommonAngels, LaunchCapital, Founder Collective, NextView Ventures, and Redstar.
The result is a group of 34 experienced investors, academics, serial entrepreneurs, and others who come from professions like finance and law. Collectively they’ve invested in many companies that have already gone through an exit—such as Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, Zipcar, Blaze Software, and Copiun—as well as other more recent startups that are just heating up, like Yesware, DocTrackr, ParElastic, and Retroficiency. The fields of technology, life sciences, and cleantech are represented here, but there are also some more off-the-beaten-path plays, like a winery, a craft brewery, a tea company, and a high-tech apparel maker.
Our list is far from comprehensive. There are some angels who are well-known to the startup community, but for whom we couldn’t gather enough detail to include in our first pass. So we’re also relying on you, the reader, as a resource here. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the individual investors you’ve come across that we might have missed. We’ll update the story and add in your suggestions as appropriate.
In the meantime, the angels here kindly agreed to share insights into their investment philosophy and the kinds of entrepreneurs and companies they are looking to back. So take a look at this not-so-motley crew, and let us know what you think.
Robert Buderi and Greg Huang contributed reporting to this story.
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