Posted by Anonymous on 2012-08-23
In the interest of providing (unsolicited) feedback to the leadership of the ATA, I am glad to have this opportunity to present my thoughts.
My company has in the past pitched to ATA, and we spent quite a bit of time getting through the system. I generally agree with the 2008 review with respect to the lack of process and technical expertise, as do those in my broad startup entrepreneur network in the SE with whom I have shared my experience.
There's much happy talk about how they "want to help", but little honest guidance is actually provided once the process gets underway. The dozens and dozens of hours spent in preparation could have been collapsed into 10 hours or less if there had been clear direction provided. There is also a missed opportunity by not connecting funded companies with those currently pitching. The use of interns who have little to no business experience contributes to the time wasting nature of working with the ATA--operations are scattered and there seems to be no knowledge management or attempt to standardize basic processes. Of course, much of the inefficiency can be chalked up to the fact that ATA is a volunteer-run organization, but this group is worse than most that I have dealt with. (Many volunteer organizations hire part time professional administrators--locally the MIT Enterprise Forum is a good example of this--query whether a good spend for ATA would be to bring one of these on board.)
Apart from the inefficiencies in the process itself, from an investor level, it seems more like a club for high net worth individuals seeking to diversify their portfolios with low risk startup opportunities, as opposed to a fully functional angel funding network upon which the local startup community can rely. Strong opinions were provided by those in the "screening" and "coaching" sessions, but those opinions were seemingly based upon personal experience, not on a consideration of how that experience could provide value to the testing and validation of my company's business model and exit potential. Those I met at the ATA were interested in applying their individual template to my company, instead of making an attempt to understand and vet the unique aspects of my company's business model that pointed (or not) to us being a strong investment opportunity. In sum, there was a decided lack of mentoring associated with the process.
I will note that I have been helped by individuals involved in the ATA and appreciate expanding my networks in this regard, so it's not all bad. But as an ROI on time and value, I would have spent my time elsewhere if I had known what a time suck the process would be even though the experience admittedly did lead to our obtaining support at an important time.
FYI: More on how others view the Atlanta angel networks, including ATA is here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephan...PRIVATE: Members Only (997 Characters)