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)
Posted by beowulf on 2011-02-11
I've pitched ATA several times over the years, and have received at least one term sheet from them. In every case, they were beaten by other investors to the punch with a faster deal, better terms, and more money.
In general, I've found them to be:
- Disorganized in their diligence process.
- Haphazard in their questioning, with no technical depth or market knowledge for 90% of the "angels" in the room, and no effort to come up to speed where they lack depth. In fact, I've seen very little intellectual curiosity from them about "technology" in general.
- Lacking in recent operational experience; the few "angels" that worked in technology seemed to have done so in the 80's for companies that largely no longer exist. So, their ideas about sales/marketing tend to involve golf outings and the Cheetah. Don't even bother if your deal involves online marketing, SaaS, or anything where you have to "click" on something to make money.
This also means that they don't know ANYBODY in the current technology world, outside of their microcosm of legacy Atlanta companies. Need a connection at Google, Facebook, Twitter, or Christ, even Microsoft? Good luck. Might as well use the phone book.
- Slow to respond or followup after formal pitches. Actually, they pretty much DON'T follow up at all. Don't hold your breath waiting for an analytical assessment of your deal, or even a "thanks for coming to present". To get a response, you'll have to track THEM down.
On the last deal I presented to them (or EVER will present again), I had to pitch them several times over the course of months, with multiple updates to their Angelsoft account, to finally get to...no decision because they "hadn't been able to review the deal". As if their deal flow is that good.
Even looking at their OWN portfolio page tells you how low their clockspeed is:
Since 1999 they apparently have done only 14 deals??? Since 1999????
What on earth do they do with their time????
Compare them to Band of Angels:
Compared to groups like Band of Angels, these guys are on the short bus.
Waste of time. Waste of money. Waste of the "Atlanta" brand.
They ought to rename themselves "Sometimes Technology Angels" and let someone else step to the forefront to invest in Atlanta/SE tech deals. The Shotput guys are definitely on to something, and I think a wholesale blow out is called for here.
With as rich a resource as GA Tech ( #4 Engineering school in the US) at their doorstep, it's telling to see how few successful companies these guys have backed.
These guys are more interested in managing their real estate portfolios or waiting for their rich relatives to die than investing in local technology companies that will create new jobs and wealth.
Skip the ATA dinner meeting and go to the Varsity instead. DO NOT pay them to list on their Angelsoft account. That money will simply go to perpetuate this charade.
Better yet, spend your money on a plane ticket West or North and buy the in-flight meal.PRIVATE: Members Only
Posted by nghtspid on 2008-11-08
I met Knox and presented all my information to them and they didn't even give me the time of day. I wouldn't recommend them at all.PRIVATE: Members Only
Posted by serialsoft on 2008-04-04
Remember, ATA is a group of angels - not a VC fund -- as much as they'd like to go through all the same process sometimes as a fund.
Knox is a good guy and a good advocate for angels and entrepreneurs.PRIVATE: Members Only (287 Characters)
Posted by Anonymous on 2007-12-04
ATA is the only formal angel investment group in Atlanta and one of the few remaining in the Southeast. The group consists largely of a group of successful technology entrepreneurs who are interested in remaining close to the Atlanta technology startup community. They maintain a consist process for deal screening, company presentations, and followup. Deals that are interesting to enough members will generate followup by a small team of interested and relevant group members who lead the efforts to gather additional information and, if necessary, due diligence. Given the nature of an organization which is a loose confederation of individuals who make independent decisions regarding participation, the process can appear deliberate to slow. However, compared to other groups of this type, they have a reliable and consistent process and their executive director, Knox Massey is accessible and communicative.PRIVATE: Members Only (774 Characters)