37 ANGELS TALKS WITH Liz McCreery
Caryn Effron is an angel investor and advisor to several women-led start-ups and seed-stage funds. She is committed to empowering women to build wealth and command their financial future. Her passion for helping women obtain equal footing on financial literacy led her to found GoGirl Finance, an online community geared towards empowering women in all stages of life to become financially confident and knowledgeable. Recently, Caryn launched Parity Partners to address the lack of female representation in VC and PE. Caryn has been a member of 37 Angels since the Fall of 2012. You can connect with Caryn here.
AS AN INVESTOR
How did you get into angel investing?
I met Alexa von Tobel, the Founder of LearnVest, through a mutual friend who noticed the similarities in our goals to improve financial literacy for women. As soon as I heard her pitch, I told her I loved what she was doing, and I became an angel investor in her first seed round.
What inspired you to become a member of 37 Angels?
When I decided I wanted to invest in Alexa’s business, I went to a pitch forum to get some foundational understanding on angel investing as well as to meet other investors who could provide a community. Afterwards, I applied for and became a Pipeline Fellow which led me to meet Angela Lee who was in my cohort. We talked with a couple of other Fellows afterwards about the positives of the program, but also the aspects that could be refined to spark longer-term commitment and enthusiasm for angel investing. A couple days later, Angela launched 37 Angels! Supporting 37 Angels was an easy decision. I loved Angela’s commitment to creating educational opportunity related to angel investing.
What are some of the key characteristics you look for when investing?
I look for companies that address clear pain points and have a clear value proposition to the customer. I also look at what the company defines as its key metrics, how they're calculated, and how they change over time. Moreover, I tend to prefer SaaS business models.
What types of traits do you look for in founders?
Domain expertise and co-founders with complementary skill sets. Having a technical co-founder/committed CTO is a must. Additionally, if the founder has launched a product on the market, it is imperative to show that it knows how to obtain and retain customers.
What mistakes do entrepreneurs make when pitching to angel investors?
They fail to develop metrics to measure business success early on. While the metrics can change as the company grows or pivots, metrics and milestones are a must for capital raising.
What start-ups/VC funds have you invested in (with 37 Angels or otherwise)?
LearnVest, E-Line Media, Alice App, DailyWorth, DayOne Response, Traklight, Pollen, SPARK Experience, Eniac Ventures, 645 Ventures, Metaprop NYC, Rothenberg Ventures, Metamorphic Ventures, and Brooklyn Bridge Ventures.
What advice would you give to women who are interested in angel investing but haven't taken the leap?
My best advice would be to attend a pitch event because it is a great way to expose yourself to angel investing. I would also highly recommend taking the 37 Angels bootcamp which involves a rigorous curriculum and gives participants solid mentorship to develop foundational skills in investing.
What are some of the biggest lessons you've learned as an angel investor?
I've learned to look at as many opportunities as possible and have come to appreciate the importance of being involved with an angel community (or a few) where you can evaluate deals with other active angels.
What do you feel are some characteristics an angel investor should possess?
Curiosity and the motivation to be engaged, learn, and grow.
AS AN INDIVIDUAL
What does success mean for you?
Success to me means the ability to continue to adapt with every lesson learned and to provide value to those around me.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
I am proud of being an active and engaged investor, advisor, and member, as well as, a successful real estate finance professional. Raising three children has been another accomplishment that I am continually proud of, also being a part of this amazing entrepreneurship community that will allow me to continue to learn and grow.
Where have you traveled that's most impressed you?
Israel really amazed me with the grit and commitment of their people. The fortitude and innovation going on in their startup community is very impressive.
What super power do you wish you had?
To create a world where everyone’s values are more similarly focused around empathy and fairness.
What's your favorite cuisine?
What's your favorite film(s)?
All About Ann: Governor Richards of the Lone Star State because it is feisty, smart, funny, determined and authentic.
What's your favorite book(s)?
By Daniel Pink
The secret to high performance and satisfaction at work, at school and at home is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.
Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World
By Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler
The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined
By Salman Khan
Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur's Odyssey to Educate the World's Children
By John Wood
What's your favorite app and why?
Uber and Waze because they both solve an everyday problem.
Favorite New York moment:
Definitely, meeting my husband at a nightclub 32 years ago because that moment reminds me of the serendipity of life and the moving parts that come together at the right point sometimes.