Angel Chronicles: Elad Gil

July 21, 2023
Angel investors

Elad Gil is a well known entrepreneur and angel investor. In 2004, he joined the ranks of Google as a product manager, where he played a pivotal role in shaping the mobile team. He helped pioneer Google Mobile Maps and contributed to three noteworthy acquisitions. But his thirst for innovation led him to embark on his own entrepreneurial adventure.

One startup after the other

In 2007, Elad co-founded Mixer Labs, a company focused on revolutionizing location-based services and mobile apps. Twitter recognized the potential of his venture and acquired Mixer Labs for approximately $5 million.

Later, Elad co-founded Color Genomics, a company revolutionizing DNA screening for cancer risk at an affordable price. Color Genomics has been a game-changer in healthcare.

Today, he serves as the chairman of Electric Capital, a crypto fund that's generating considerable buzz, and also chairs Spring Discovery, a company at the forefront of drug discovery.

In addition to his ventures, he wrote a book for entrepreneurs, "High Growth Handbook: Scaling Startups From 10 to 10,000 People."

Elad’s top 10 startup  investments

Elad Gil has invested in over 224 companies and has had more than 42 exits.

  • Airbnb
  • Pinterest
  • Square
  • Stripe
  • Wish
  • Zenefits
  • Instacart
  • Coinbase
  • Gusto
  • Flexport

Most notable exits:

  • Mixer Labs
  • AdMob
  • Aardvark
  • Caffeine
  • Figma
  • SmartThings
  • Nest
  • Oculus VR
  • Cruise Automation
  • Instagram

Elad’s advice to angel investors

  • Understand the market size and dynamics before investing in a company.
  • Evaluate whether you or an enterprise would use the product or service being offered.
  • Be willing to lose all your money when making investments.
  • Focus on understanding how the team functions and their ability to execute.
  • Look for companies with a clear value proposition for customers.
  • Avoid raising funding ahead of your company's stage; don't chase higher valuations unnecessarily.
  • Have a clear financial plan, including understanding your burn rate and ensuring sufficient cash reserves.
  • Consider the long-term sustainability of the company and its potential for growth.
  • Assess the market share potential and revenue growth prospects of the company.
  • Be open to helping early-stage entrepreneurs with recruiting efforts and financing guidance.
  • Provide guidance and support to founders in developing an effective acquisition strategy.
  • Maintain open lines of communication and accessibility to founders, offering support when needed.

His advice to founders

When it comes to fundraising, founders often invest a significant amount of time and effort in attracting the right mix of angels and investors. However, many entrepreneurs fail to take full advantage of the value-added benefits that these investors can bring.

Drawing from his experience at Mixer Labs (which was acquired by Twitter), he shares valuable insights on how founders can make the most of their investment team.

  • Investors as your team

Just as you have dedicated engineering or UX teams, think of your investors as your investment team. Elad encourages founders to find ways to actively involve investors in the company's growth. Each investor can bring different expertise and connections to the table, so it's essential to figure out which investors can help with specific aspects of your business.

  • Effective communication

Rather than spending excessive time meeting individually with each angel investor for one-way updates, consider sending occasional email updates. These updates should highlight key milestones and ask for specific help from investors.

  • Mini board/advisory board

If you don't have a formal board of directors, you can create a lightweight version by involving a couple of your favorite angels. Schedule regular meetings with them to discuss key business matters that require their input. Share relevant slides and prepare for these meetings by identifying the top issues you want to address. Whether it's product development, hiring, distribution, or sales, utilize the expertise of your key investors to tackle these challenges effectively.

  • Semi-annual investors all-hands

Consider organizing a gathering where all your investors can come together to discuss key issues facing the business. This forum allows for group brainstorming and encourages investors to bounce ideas off each other. It also provides an opportunity for your investors to network with one another, creating a supportive and collaborative environment.

  • Calendar reminders

Amidst the daily demands of running a startup, founders often forget to tap into their network for help. Set calendar reminders to reach out to key investors periodically on specific topics where you believe their insights or connections could be valuable. This simple reminder ensures that you don't miss out on leveraging your network when you need it most.

Elad’s guide to scaling startups

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