Life after startup – my 10 year goal to become a great (angel) investor

At the Berlin event with fellow ecosystem builder Mario

“By the time I am 40 I only want to focus on being an investor”

It’s 2018 when I wrote this down in my goalsetting booklet, and I had just turned 30.

Since I just turned 35 last week I thought now would be a good time to assess this goal.

I realize that this may sound extremely privileged but for me the investing part is not about making tons of money.

It is about staying actively involved in the game of entrepreneurship, why? Let’s dive in.

Staying sucked into a business

In 2018 I had just spent the first 11 years of my working life building a company from nothing in my student years to more than 35 employees in 2 countries and hundreds of clients around the world and again through many years of crisis, hiring and firing and I realized I had forgotten how to have fun at work.

The first years of any business are the most creative and exhilarating and also in particular where I always thrived the most.

My biggest issue is however that I suck at letting go of a problem. So when the company went through hard times I always felt I needed to fix it.

This meant that at a certain stage of the company I had a hard time delegating.

I went from dealing with the things that really required my creativity, like developing new business models and products, to solving every daily operational issue, like new processes or a particular employee, that was more easily solved by a manager.

This also meant that I felt under stimulated and eventually got bored.

Finding a way out

So like with any problem in my life, I wrote it down, and started to think what goal I could set to get me out of that mental trap in the future:

“how can I stimulate myself to stay less involved with every next startup I set up, still have skin in the game and mostly focus on the initial assembly of a business?”

The only role that I could figure fit that mold was that of an (angel) investor.

Angel investors are involved in the very early stages, can be hands on or hands off (I would rather be hands on) and can provide valuable guidance in getting something from 0 to 1.

The milestones

In 2018 I decided that I would eventually sell my company and also I pledged that every subsequent business I would not stay operationally involved longer than maximum 50% of the time of my previous one (14 years).

Meaning for instance max 7 years for Superconnectors, 3,5 years for the next one, and so on.

This would mean there would be increasing pressure for me to learn what critical tasks exist in the early stages to help a business sustain itself, and eventually I would become good at entering and exiting a company.

Finally my involvement in Superconnectors made a lot of sense as this gave me a very broad perspective on what is out there.

Where I want to be

The biggest underrepresented skill for that is my lack in financial background (as highlighted in my previous article) and that is why I am looking to take courses, learn and develop on finance for (angel) investing.

So hopefully by the time I am 40, I have plenty of experience from 3 different companies in my background, the right understanding of the startup ecosystem, and can focus on helping the next ones make it big!

Any tips for where this aspiring (angel) investor can find really good (free) learning materials that helped you? Tag in the comments please 🙂

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