Co-investing with super angels: what is an angel investor?

An angel investor (sometimes referred to as a business angel, private investor or seed investor) is an individual who invests in startups early in their journey in exchange for a share of the business. Early angel investors often invest as part of a network, an “angel network”, and provide their investee companies with advice, network access and other support beyond the capital. Investing early, these angel investors take on board a large amount of risk in the hope that the company will grow and over time provide a significant return on their investment.

Who are the super angels?

We spent nearly two years indexing the UK startup market and all of the underlying investors. From this research we noted a few incredible stats including that, had you invested a fixed amount into each company from our index that raised capital in 2011, you would have witnessed a staggering 28% year on year portfolio growth rate.

However impressive that market growth is, our data went one step further and identified a group of angel investors who consistently outperformed the market. As a group these angels, who we have dubbed the “super angels”, averaged 42% year on year portfolio growth, not including any tax reliefs they may have received from EIS.

Super angel performance vs comparables

Our super angel selection criteria.

Just beating the market rate of 28% doesn’t make someone a super angel. Some people get lucky and the only company they’ve ever invested in takes off (though more often than not a portfolio consisting of a single company will result in a loss).

What makes these super angels super is that they have built portfolios and demonstrated an ability to consistently invest in companies with high potential. The main initial criteria for becoming a super angel are as follows:

  • Market level beating growth rate (i.e. above 28% year on year) not including EIS relief.
  • Investment into at least one new UK company, on average, per year for the past 5 years
  • A total startup angel portfolio valued at over £100k
  • At least one company that has achieved 5x growth

From our analysis of several million data points we have identified just over 150 angel investors who meet our initial criteria of being a “super angel”.

If you’d like further information on our data and analysis feel free to download our white paper.

Notable companies from the super angel portfolios.

Here is just a snapshot of some of the companies these super angels have backed

Super angel portoflio companies

How they do what they do.

Having onboarded over 50 of the super angels as partners for our fund to co-invest with, we’ve had the opportunity to speak about their interest in and approach towards angel investing.

A deep expertise on a particular subject but an appetite to continue learning.

Companies who are really disrupting an industry, who have to explain to the customer what the problem is, need to build in a longer runway to educate the market. I’ve seen founders that have everything you would want them to have, the vision, the drive, that haven’t succeeded because the the market wasn’t ready.

Kirsten Connell

Venture Partner, Octopus Ventures

Experience and insight in identifying extraordinary founders.

Just ask yourself, Is this person exceptional enough?…

If I were to go back again, I think I would apply my rule of investing in founders as opposed to investing in businesses even more fundamentally.

Chris Mairs

Venture Partner, Entrepreneur First

A keen eye for the required components of a successful venture.

At the end of the day, angel investing is partly investing that knowledge and experience in assessing and supporting a business.

Ros Singleton

CEO at Spring Fibre, Chair UK5G Advisory Board

Realistic timescales for success.

Really good businesses take time to grow. When I look back at the experience I've had over the last 10 to 12 years, the best businesses will take 10 to 15 years to grow to a really sizeable exit.

Simon Thorpe

Managing Partner at Delta2020

Don’t take our word for it, have a listen to our Angel Insights podcast to hear what they have to say for themselves

Our relationship with the super angels.

We’ve been in business since 2012 and, while this data-driven approach is a fair bit newer, co-investing with strong angels has been at the core of what we do since we started. Over the last eight years we’ve managed to build strong relationships with over 50 of the 150 super angels and our Access fund has taken this relationship a step further.

Our commitment to the angels is a commitment to the companies they are backing. The angels bring us an opportunity in which they are investing and we aim to give the company a yes or no on investing in 10 days. It’s a simple proposition, and the angels value the efficiency and transparency we bring.

View our EIS fund