New York Angels, a loose affiliation of angel investors that hear pitches and conduct diligence together, just announced that vice chairman Brian Cohen will take over as chairman. He replaces David Rose, founder of the group that has invested more than $45 million in the last ten years.
Mr. Cohen is heavily involved in running the organization’s small staff and coordinating the Angels’ monthly meetings. As chairman, he will “focus on making the New York Angels the hallmark mentor organization to the exploding startup community in New York City,” according to a press release. He also plans to expand the group’s presence outside of New York.
Mr. Cohen, who was the first investor in the web’s social media darling of the moment, Pinterest, is hoping to give the Angels a bit of an update. He plans to increase the organization’s speed as well as its reach “to make it easier for aspiring entrepreneurs to get funded faster by smarter angels,” according to the release. Mr. Cohen will expand the organization’s mentorship and education programs, and hopes to partner with more angel investor groups across the country.
A decade ago, New York Angels was the only game in town. Today, with money flying fast, the Angels network has fallen a bit behind. New York has a growing number of startups, but it also has an increasing number of angel investors interested in seeding them.
New York Angels is not a fund and does not invest collectively, though members collaborate on due diligence. Each member makes individual investment decisions. The New York Angels process includes, as we wrote last year, an online application, a pitch to a screening committee, a meeting to refine the pitch, a second pitch at the monthly breakfast and a due diligence meeting before the interested angels will follow up with the entrepreneurs individually.
The network’s sluggishness prompted one entrepreneur, Adam Neary, to call the process “broken.” By contrast, the angel group Founder Collective is known for being efficient. And given that a room of 500 investors now has only 24 hours to decide whether to give money to a Y Combinator startup, the Angels have found themselves shut out of a few deals.
Could this be a new era for the Angels? Mr. Cohen has created the OPEL Award for Entrepreneurial Service Leadership in New York City, established liaisons with New York University and Columbia University, and created a “Future Angels” internship program for MBA and finance grad students. New York Angels is also working on its refreshed database, Gust, which is similar to AngelList.
Mr. Cohen also has “made it a requirement for every member of the New York Angels’ Board of Directors to contribute in some significant way to improving the opportunities for bright entrepreneurs in New York City.”