37 ANGELS TALKS WITH Julie Lerner
Julie Lerner is an angel investor and the Founder of The Failure Report, a blog dedicated to helping early-stage startups avoid potential pitfalls with advice from successful entrepreneurs and investors. She is also on the Board of The Lower Eastside Girls Club. The state-of-the-art club and community center offers programs in the arts, sciences, leadership, entrepreneurship, and wellness for girls in middle and high school to break the cycle of poverty by training the next generation of ethical and entrepreneurial leaders. Julie is an avid traveler and has been to all 50 states, all 7 continents and 80 countries. She has been a member of 37 Angels since the spring of 2016. You can connect with Julie here.
As an investor
How did you get into Angel Investing?
After closing down my startup, EatDrinkJobs-a job site for the restaurants and bars, I read a book by David Rose called Angel Investing: The Gust Guide to Making Money & Having Fun Investing in Startups. I was familiar with David Rose from making the rounds getting feedback on my company. After finishing the book, I thought this is for me! I loved the startup ecosystem, but I didn't want to start something new. Angel investing would allow me to stay in the entrepreneurial world without taking on the full risk or the time to build something myself. Plus, I was excited by the prospect of learning about many sectors and innovative companies.
What inspired you to become a member of 37 Angels?
I asked several investors I knew about what would be the best angel group to join, and consistently 37 Angels was mentioned. I knew about entrepreneurship but knew little about angel investing, so I was excited about the boot camp. Plus, I wanted to belong to an all-female group.
What are some of the key characteristics you look for when investing?
I am a big fan of the Warren Buffet philosophy: invest in things and products you understand.
What types of traits do you look for in founders?
First of all, I have to like them. You are taking a bit of a leap of faith when you make an early stage investment. You have to want to be working with and rooting on your entrepreneur. I have to want both the company the founder to succeed. Second, they have to know their stuff: their numbers, their product, their competitors, their path to growth. Lastly, they need to have the ability to be flexible. As a failed entrepreneur, I know that your first idea will almost %100 of the time will not be your ultimate product. The founder has to have the ability and the understanding that success is not a straight path.
Whats the biggest risk you have taken?
The biggest risk I have taken was challenging top doctors and hospitals after a cancer diagnosis in my 20's. I went to what was considered the best place for treatment, but ultimately it was up to me to make sure I got the best care and was a huge factor in me surviving over four years of treatment including two bone marrow transplants. What I learned was to challenge people who know more than you.
Also, what I learned going forward was to push myself out of my comfort zone and to try everything. The worst that could happen is that you fail.
What accomplisment are you most proud of?
Simply, making it through over four years of cancer treatment and having an incredible 25 years after of amazing experiences.
What is the most important advice would you give to aspiring angels? ?
Determine what dollar amount you can invest (and possibly lose) and diversify as much as you can.
Which industries are you most excited about right now?
My background is food, wine, hospitality, and I am interested in this space. I also like the transportation sector.
What is a major warning sign/ red flag for you when looking at a new company?
Not having a clear path or unrealistic growth projections.
As an Individual
Where have you traveled that's most impressed you?
This is my favorite subject! I have been to every state and every continent. I have been to 76 countries, and I am trying to travel to everyone. I have 117 to go! Antarctica blew me away.
What is your favorite film?
Anything that showcases NYC. Harry Met Sally is a favorite.
What’s your favorite book(s)?
Nonfiction. I love biographies. I like to learn about something new or somebody's journey.
Favorite event you attended this year:
Not exactly an event, but gorilla trekking in Uganda! Also, seeing David Bryne at the Philharmonie de Paris.
Favorite pass-time activity:
Cooking!! I promised I would never cook professionally if they let me pass culinary school (passed anyway). Never get bored reading cookbooks. I love to try new recipes and entertain. Also, eating out. Anything involving food!
Favorite New York Moment:
Every New York moment! Feel so lucky that I get to live here. Way back when my very first day of work in the city, I went to my subway stop at 86th and Lex. Made my way to the train platform and John F. Kennedy junior was there with his bike. I thought, "I am going to like it here!"