Jonathan Melllinger has experience on both sides of the investment ecosystem, first as a successful entrepreneur and now as a member at Robin Hood Ventures.
Mellinger told an audience of entrepreneurs and angel investors at the Science Center’s Angel Education event that he uses instinct and experience to choose companies to invest in, but he also laid out his model for making early stage investments Tuesday.
The programming is part of an ongoing effort from the University City life sciences research park to broaden its mission and the awareness of regional investors to smaller, more consumer-facing ventures.
First, when Mellinger is looking at a company, he looks at the management team.
“I like to see some experience from the management team in the space they’re going after,” said Mellinger, as he explained why he decided to invest in Onetwosee, which provides TV companion content for mobile devices.
Competition is another important factor. Mellinger looks to see that a company has a “a valid and proven revenue model” that approaches the competition in a new way.
“What I did like about OneTwoSee is when I looked at the competition in general they were attacking their market with the revenue model right up front,” said Mellinger. “Tim Geithner, at some point said, plan trumps no plan. And as an angel investor, revenue trumps no revenue”
Lastly, Mellinger said that having a product that works and is easy to use is an important factor as well.
“What I need to know from a company is what their customers consider a successful product,” said Mellinger.
Companies that can’t answer that question effectively get a pass, he says.
Here’s a short clip of Mellinger summarizing his investment strategy:
Mellinger wasn’t the only one offering instruction to angel investors. A panel of entrepreneurs offered local angel investors advice on how to invest in the mobile startup environment.
“The one thing I love about Philadelphia and it’s why I’m proud to be a Philadelphia is it’s a huge city, but it’s a small community,” said Steve Shea, CEO and cofounder of social vacation planning company Ajungo, regarding how to get started making investments. “I am personally a fan and an encourager of speaking to people.”
Shea, who has made personal investments himself, was joined by Cloudmine founder Ilya Braude and Bob Moul of AppRenaissance and Philly Startup Leaders. The three fielded questions from an audience of about 40 people and offered their inside perspective on the state of the mobile application market as well as where they think the industry is headed.
“It used to be that computing was always a challenge of constraint,” said Moul. “By and large, that’s no longer the case. Now instead of a challenge of constraint, it’s a challenge of creativity.”
James Drobile of Mobile Monday Mid-Atlantic kicked off the afternoon gathering with an overview of the mobile technology industry. The event was held in the Quorum space at the University City Science Center. Angel Education is intended to foster the angel investment community by offering educational programming on emerging technology industries.