What is your involvement at the Dingman Center and why is it a special place?
I sold my company in 2005 and found myself retired at 40 years old. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next, but I knew I wanted to be involved in technology. In 2006, I heard about the Dingman Center and its Dingman Center Angels investor network. There was great interaction between the angels and the companies presenting. It’s such a great resource for me to find investment; to be tapped into the angel network. I was asked to come on board as an Angel-in-Residence, which is a great opportunity for me to be more than just a participant. I became a member of the team that gets to help vet the companies that present. I have really loved the connection with students.
What are you most focused on right now?
What’s taking most of my attention is Brazen Careerist. It’s one of my biggest investments and it’s a company I’m also leading. It had started in Madison, WI and then relocated to Washington DC about a year ago. What started as a part-time CEO-ship has become a full-time, 120-hour-a-week job. So far we have not taken traditional venture capital funding. We’ve pursued an angel-centric strategy, but wouldn’t discount VC funding.
How do you approach angel investing?
Every angel investor has a different philosophy. I typically invest in fewer companies and usually have two to four firms at any given time that I’ll spend a lot of time and energy on. What sets angel investors apart is that our know-how in dealing with startups actually changes the risk equation. In a startup, my background and involvement can affect the outcome.
What’s been your greatest entrepreneurial challenge?
The single biggest frustration has been dealing with investors that don’t understand the very unique world of startups. They may have other great experience, but it’s important to understand the world of startups. Oftentimes people think of startups as small versions of companies, but it’s really not like that. Startups are experiments and things are constantly moving. Metrics of profit, revenue, etc. don’t always make the most sense. It’s important to educate people on the true nature of startups.
What is the single most important piece of advice you could give going into an investor pitch?
You need to strike a fine balance between enthusiasm and arrogance. An pitch session is a scary place, with seasoned entrepreneurs and investors. For some people, the defense mechanism is often arrogance. Nothing will sink you in that kind of setting faster than arrogance. On the other hand, you want someone that’s enthusiastic and confident; someone that’s not afraid to answer questions directly.
Ed Barrientos has been a member of the Dingman Center Angel Investor network since 2007, and an Angel-In-Residence since 2010. Ed is CEO and Chairman of the Board of Brazen Careerist, a career focused social networking site targeting Gen Y. He is also Managing Partner of Zeitgeist Holdings, L.L.C., an angel investment firm focused on investing in early stage technology companies. From 1996 to 2005, he was President and CEO of Arc Second Inc., a high growth market leader in the field of laser based, high-precision GPS. Barrientos led Arc Second to a successful exit (acquired by Metris NV of Belgium) at the end of 2005. He sat on the Board of Directors of Metris NV, and worked as an active Board member through the Company’s IPO (2006) and its acquisition by Nikon (Japan) in 2009. Connect with Ed on Twitter @snowcrash65.