What’s a “pretangel” and why do you need to identify them?

If you’re in the startup or small business scene, you’ve been trained to always try to connect with angel investors, those mythical creatures who are super rich and want to put some of that money to work in your business.

Quick tip: if you’re ever going to pursue investment from angel investors, make sure you can swiftly determine who is an actual angel investor and who is a “pretangel.” I learned the term “pretangel” from the Driven Forward blog‘s Glen Hellman and it basically means someone who tells entrepreneurs and others in the startup scene that he’s an angel investor but never actually makes any investments.

Why are these people so dangerous? Because an entrepreneur’s most precious resource is her time (as we discussed yesterday), so if someone isn’t being completely honest about who they are and is thereby wasting the time of a bunch of entrepreneurs, he’s toxic to the ecosystem.

If you’re looking for investment and you meet someone who says she’s an angel investor, just be sure to do some quick checking around on AngelList and in the community to find out if she’s actually written any checks before you take 7 meetings with her hoping you’re just one more lunch away from closing that investment that is never going to come.

Oh yeah, and those of us who work in the space supporting entrepreneurs and know who these “pretangels” are…it’s our responsibility to let entrepreneurs know the truth, not sit idly by and let founders’ precious time be wasted because we don’t want to be that “jerk” who is honest about what everyone knows. This unwillingness to call out pretenders in the space is one of the most destructive aspects of non-profit entrepreneurship support and I’ll come back to this concept repeatedly in this mini series.

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