Boston Harbor Angels
Boston Harbor Angels (BHA) is one of the most prominent angel investing groups in the US with numerous successful exits. BHA is a tight knit group of investors, who pride themselves on seeking out high quality, high impact companies in which to invest. On December 15th, Babson hosted the Boston Harbor Angels for their year-end meeting. The event was much more than just numbers and results, with a great deal of banter and history between BHA founder Mic Williams (who was MC for the event) and many of the long-standing members. At the outset, each attendee introduced him or herself, which showcased a wide variety of industry knowledge, including biotech, real estate, and information technology. This was followed by a fascinating Q&A session with one of the groups’ many success stories, Corbus Pharmaceuticals, as well as biotech startup Astrocyte. The final Q&A was with Wasabi, a Boston based IT startup which is disrupting the cloud storage space and is “1/5th the price and 6x faster than Amazon S3.” More details of the event can be found on the Boston Harbor Angels’ blog.
Here, we interview Ziad Moukheiber, who is CEO of Boston Harbor Angels, and also sits on the board of a number of companies. Moukheiber owned an IT consulting company for 20 years, and got into angel investing because he wanted to get involved in exciting startups. Eventually, he partnered with Mic Williams to run BHA.
What does the investing landscape look like today?
It’s definitely a great time to be an investor. There are a lot of good companies, but the number of great companies is probably just the same as it has always been. Industries like bio-tech, digital health, and robotics are all very exciting.
How and why was the Boston Harbor Angels founded?
Mic Williams founded BHA in 2005. At the time, he was doing angel investing on his own, and wanted to invest with other people. The size of the group fluctuates, but is usually between 65 and 75 people. Currently, there is a wait list to join, and members need to be accredited investors, as outlined in the membership section of our site. Generally members need to bring community value to the group.
Are there any successful portfolio companies you want to highlight?
The latest success is Corbus Therapeutics, which was listed on the NASDAQ – CRBP. We are also especially excited about two recent startups, Wasabi and Windgap.
Do you identify startups you want to work with, or do they find you?
We’re fairly well-known, so companies come to us. We get around sixty to eighty applications per month from all over the United States and Canada. We narrow those down to eight companies that pitch to BHA’s screening committee, and of those, four get chosen to present in front of the entire membership.
What is your definition of entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship is an attitude, in which an individual takes on any type of challenge in order to achieve results.
What do you wish you saw more of in the startup scene?
A better understanding of what it means to be an entrepreneur. There are a lot of companies that want things done for them; they don’t understand that facing difficulties and challenges is part of building a company.
What does the world need from entrepreneurs today?
Great companies that are socially responsible. Companies that are not just dedicated to profit, but who also want to make the world a better place. When investing in entrepreneurs, I look for a big social impact and whether the business will improve quality of life for people.
What tips do you have for entrepreneurs that are looking to fundraise?
Be persistent, be passionate and tell a good story. At this early stage of investment, we are betting on the jockey, not the horse. The idea is 5%, but the rest is all management.