AngelList pivoted four times to get it right

Bambi Francisco Roizen · February 21, 2011 · Short URL:

How Naval and Babak built upon Venture Hacks to automate the angel/VC funding process

AngelList has become a popular site for investors to check out startups and find other like-minded investors to invest in them. Today, AngelList has 1200 investor members, and counts 200 startups as beneficiaries of its service. But like many successful companies, AngelList wasn't just "an overnight success," as Naval Ravikant, co-founder of AngelList, put it in our four-part interview.

In fact, it's been around in many iterations for several years. The original AngelList was called "Venture Hacks Dealflow Network." The idea was to productize Venture Hacks, the blog that educated entrepreneurs on how to raise venture capital. The blog, just like AngelList, was founded by Naval and his partner Babak Nivi.

In this segment of Lessons Learned, Naval shares his lessons and experience building up AngelList. The first lesson is to not overbuild. "We built a lot of product before we figured out how to get the network going," Naval said.  "AngelList was just started out as an email mailing list. We did the minimum viable product, using a couple of wufoo forms, emails, spit and glue and calls. Once it was working, we started building product around it. But we always do it manually... until we know how it works and then we automate it."

Now, that's great advice!

He also offers some advice about entrepreneurship in general, the first of which is clearly what kept him and Babak going to pursue the final manifestation of their idea. That advice is: "Be passionate about what you're doing. It's the only way you'll stick with it until it does work. And, you won't give up because of the failures."

Other lessons and advice:

– Carbe about what you do at such a deep level. Enjoy the process, not the outcome.

-- Know your market inside and out.

-- Take each experience as an opportunity to learn more about yoursefl. Naval's first company required deep science and took seven long years to figure it outl. What did he learn? "I don't like big bang products... that is the beauty of the modern Internet. You can test something quickly. You don't have to build products that launch in two years."

(Read about how Pandora and PayPal pivoted to success, straight from the founders. Story links below.)

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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

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