AngelList, the community of startup founders and investors, which has of late been transitioning from social network to investment platform, is increasingly becoming a place where early-stage and seed deals first get off the ground. Today, a new site built on top of the AngelList API, angel5, is making its debut, offering a founder-friendly dashboard that will help better connect startup founders to those investors who are relevant to their business.
The site was a weekend project from Wittlebee CEO Sean Percival, who refers to it a “WeFollow for founders.” For those unfamiliar, WeFollow was a Twitter user directory which helped new Twitter users find others to follow on the social network, based on shared interests. It too, was a side project – the creation of Digg founder Kevin Rose. (Digg acquired the site back in 2009, but no longer owns it).
Like WeFollow, the idea with angel5 is primarily to provide lists of investors. The lists are based on market, region or other factors and beneath each one are “follow” buttons which users can click to begin following the listed investors on AngelList.
“I wanted to build an easy-to-use dashboard for founders trying to build up their network/social graph [on AngelList],” Percival explains. “I believe there is a lot of untapped power within AngelList for founders. Right now, you have to do a ton of searching and sorting to find investors that best match your business. The data and investors are there, but it’s just hard to get it at. There are also more subtle nuances that need to be factored in using an editorial layer,” he adds.
Percival says he was motivated to take on this project because of his own fundraising efforts in the past. And he has recent experience with that – his company, the subscription-based kids clothing club Wittlebee raised $2.5 million in seed funding in 2012. “Time is so precious for founders, and fundraising sucks so much,” Percival says. “I wanted to help other founders get better aligned with the right investors for their business (and faster).”
In addition to simply helping founders, the creation of angel5 is a big bet on AngelList’s growing importance in 2013 as a place where seed deals begin. Today, not all seed-stage investors are active on AngelList – some don’t have accounts on the site, while others have set up an account, but aren’t actively engaged in the community. Angel5 won’t generally include these inactive investors on its lists, even if they’re prolific in a particular area, the site’s FAQ explains. That’s notable because angel5′s goal is to provide something of a “who’s who” for AngelList – by excluding the inactive AngelList investors as AngelList itself expands, it could even end up impacting deal flow for the AngelList holdouts if it became a popular resource for new founders.
Currently, the site hosts around 25 different lists and a few more will be introduced weekly. Some will be broad, while others – like this dog lovers list - will be niche. Although based on AngelList’s API, these lists are more editorially driven than algorithmically derived, Percival notes. He says he’s looking for an editorial coordinator to help run the site now, which would be an ideal position for an associate at a VC firm.
In addition to browsing lists, following investors and commenting, site visitors can also nominate investors for lists, or even submit their own “top 5″ lists for consideration. Each list page has a Facebook-enabled comment section, too, which may end up being a resource of its own as other founders and investors debate who belongs where, and make recommendations. Providing the comment section addresses what would have otherwise been my one complaint – that some markets deserve to have more than five investors listed.