(Photo via Wikimedia Commons)
Sashi Reddi walked into a coffee shop in the Bay Area recently and noticed something. Something peculiar.
“You sit down, you get on your smartphone, you place an order,” he says. “You never have to stand in line or wait. Your coffee is delivered to your table.”
That coffee shop experience got the wheels turning for the angel investor, whose SRI Capital specializes in seed funding. “When I’m in the Bay Area, I have a blast and learn a lot,” said Reddi. “When I’m in Philadelphia, I’m able to sit back and think.” Maybe it was just the caffeine, but that tech-savvy cafe got Reddi’s mouth watering for enterprise again.
Like many angels, Reddi began as entrepreneur. He started off as a Wharton grad with an idea. That idea came to fruition as EZPower Systems in 1994.
“We were one of the first guys in the content management space,” Reddi said during a phone interview last week. The CMS company was acquired by Texas-based DocuCorp in 1998. Reddi would go on to launch three more startups. It wasn’t until exiting Center City-based app builder AppLabs in 2011 that the serial entrepreneur began to settle into his role as an angel.
Now, he’s looking to change things up again.
“I don’t want to just be an angel investor on the sidelines,” Reddi said. “I want to be more active with a startup I can work with in an operational role.” And while Reddi admits that he’s spent more time in the Bay Area in recent years, he’s a part of the team over at Gabriel Investments and is looking to become more active in the startup scene here in Philly.
Reddi says angels here might have too tight a grip on their cash clips. “People are too cautious when they invest,” he said. Reddi believes that frugality is a primary difference in angels in Philly and their counterparts on the West Coast. “Even angel groups are very careful writing checks. In the Bay Area, you have people writing big checks very quickly.”
Having been a serial entrepreneur himself, Reddi says he likes to work closely with founders to help them navigate investment rounds and understand what the next priority should be. After all, he’s been in the business over two decades. Here’s a taste of what he’s learned:
- Investing in the video game industry: “bad idea,” said Reddi. He founded FXLabs Studios in 2008 and sold it to Foundation 9 a year later.
- Having a sexy product does not mean it will sell. “I feel like a lot of things that look a little bit boring will end up making much more money in the longhaul,” he said. “They need real value and to serve a certain function.”
- Investing based on who else has invested is a common mistake. “It’s very tempting when a famous investor has invested,” but it’s important to realize, “it’s about the founders, not who’s backing it.”
Reddi says he’s spent the past year trying to figure out what his next move will be — and that move is likely to be here in Philly. “I hope to find the right thing in the next two or three months,” he said.