David Chang

Co-founder PersonalVC, EIR Harvard Business School. 5 startups/exits & 40 angel investments

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON July 13, 2017

Discussion

David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
Hi everyone, I’m David Chang, originally a software engineer and native New Yorker. After adopting Boston as my new home, I’ve been a part of 5 local startups/exits and made 40 angel investments. Today, I spent 50% of my time building/advising startups, 25% angel investing, and 25% as a connector in the startup ecosystem. I’m currently co-founder of PersonalVC, EiR at Harvard Business School, and director of the Babson Summer Venture Program. My heart always lies with entrepreneurs, so let’s talk startups!
Marius Chawa@mariuschawa · UX Designer @ Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Hi David I have a two part question. 1) What are top 3 things an pre-revenue startup must accomplish before you invest in them? 2) How can we pitch you?
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@mariuschawa So little depends on the actual business plan in the early days, so I think the 1) team - qualifications, background, and experience, 2) some core competence - either on the tech side or knowing the industry/customer, and 3) the start of a track record of execution or traction (in the early days, it's fine to simply be able to set expectations and goals well and coming back a month or two later and demonstrating that you'd hit those goals or learned from not meeting them).
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@mariuschawa In terms of pitching, happy to chat - send drop me a direct message or shoot me an email.
Marius Chawa@mariuschawa · UX Designer @ Hewlett Packard Enterprise
That would be awesome. May I have your email?
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@mariuschawa There's a link on www.davidchang.me. Looking forward to it!
Kunal Bhatia@kunalslab · Co-founder & Design Lead @SlidesUp
Why Boston? What makes the startup scene here exciting for you? Thanks for being here @changds 🙏
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@kunalslab Never thought I'd be here for more than two years. Came here for business school and never left. Love the community - I really think there's no other place where people are willing to go out of their way and help out. Looking forward to us doubling down on clusters/industries of strength - let's get a few more wins on the board and have those exits refuel the cycle.
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@kunalslab Jeff Bussgang @bussgang does a great overview on what makes Boston special https://seeingbothsides.com
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
If you had to swap lives with a tech CEO for a week, who would it be and why?
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@bentossell Nice one - I have to think about that a bit. Definitely someone in a field I know very little about.
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@bentossell I have to admit, I'm bit a fan boy of both Helen Greiner and Cynthia Breazeal. I'm firmly a software person, so part of the fascination could be spending a week in the shoes of a robotics pioneer.
Nick Abouzeid@nickabouzeid · Words at Product Hunt ✌️
Hi David! What classes, programs, or activities do you think can be the most useful for college founders?
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@nickabouzeid I LOVE what we're doing this year at the Babson Summer Venture Program @babsoneship, but I'm obviously very biased :-)
Jeff Walker@jeff_walker1 · VP Engineering, clypd
@nickabouzeid @babsoneship @changds I'd also like to put a plug in for The Capital Network. TCN is a non profit that teaches early stage entrepreneurs about the fund raising process. (Disclosure: I'm on the board of advisors) http://thecapitalnetwork.org/about/
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@nickabouzeid There are lots of local resources. I tried to pull together a list recently: https://www.slideshare.net/chang...
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@nickabouzeid @babsoneship @jeff_walker1 good one! Jeff is also a fellow EiR at Harvard Business School. I'm also biased, but I think that the HBS Rock Center has some great resources as well. Same goes for Founders Workbench http://www.foundersworkbench.com.
Ellie Li@li_ellie · Co-Founder@Projections.io #DidYouSeeThat
Hey David, how do you source your angel investment deals?
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@li_ellie so much of what I see comes through personal networks. I consider myself and operator more than a professional angel, so I get to be a little more choosy (or informal) in my sourcing
Nick Abouzeid@nickabouzeid · Words at Product Hunt ✌️
@li_ellie @changds How do you manage your personal network? Do you use any softwares or systems to make sure you stay up to date on what your friends/acquaintances are up to?
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@li_ellie @nickabouzeid It's hard to manage the network, especially since there's so much personal and professional overlap. I wish there was a power-version of LinkedIn that would enable me to see the strength of connections better (e.g., differentiate between longtime colleague and someone I met once a few years ago), deal with asymmetries (e.g., is the person more or less connected/senior than me), and see areas of strength (e.g., who is the subject matter expert in a particular field). If someone can build that, I'd use it!
Kunal Bhatia@kunalslab · Co-founder & Design Lead @SlidesUp
If you were to go back and do your first startup over again, what would you change? What would you do the same?
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@kunalslab Good one! This would be Mobicious (renamed SnapMyLife). We made the mistake of waffling back and forth between two very different guardrails (sharing photos publicly with strangers and privately with a small group - before Instagram was around). Our lack of focus was one of the key mistakes I won't make again.
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@kunalslab In terms of doing the same thing, it would 100% be recruiting a team of people I've worked with before.
Derek Tu@derek2tu · Rough Draft Ventures, Flywire
What most excites you most about Boston's startup ecosystem?
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@derek2tu as you know, the community here is amazing. People have knocked the Boston ecosystem a bit, but I am firmly an optimist and think that there are great people (smart people in young talent, startup veterans, and corporate big wigs) that give us quite the edge to build great stuff, especially in clusters where we already have a competitive edge (e.g., robotics, healthcare, travel, etc.).
Eagle Wu@eagle_wu
David, I'm your biggest fan. How can I be as cool as you? Any life advice (not related to business) you can give to a naive 19 year old?
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@eagle_wu Are you kidding? You are living the dream! You're knocking it out of the part with your startup, and I am amazed that you're only 19 years old. When I was 19 years old, I don't think I knew half the stuff you already know. I should ask you...
Mitchell Troyanovsky@mitch_troy · CEO of Quonvo
Hi David, you seem to have what Adam Grant would call a "giver" mentality. You consistently go out of your way to help people, startups, friend etc. Regardless of whether they can ever help you back. From deploying your connections, to giving advice, you seem to always devote a significant amount of time to help everyone, without necessarily a financial or social incentive. How did you become this? Were you always such a "giver"? Did someone help you in your career that made you decide to always pay it forward? What drives you to be so incredibly helpful?
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@mitch_troy I'm not sure if there was a shift in a particular point in my life, but I genuinely get a ton of satisfaction out of helping out others if I can. I simply can't imagine living any other way! We're on this earth for a limited amount of time, and I can't think of a better way to spend time than to make sure you're making things better for other people.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hi David thanks for joining us today. What's the best advice you've ever received? How did this impact you?
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@ems_hodge A great piece of advice came from a variety of people was about not trying to pretend to be smarter than you actually are. One example was when I was applying to business schools, and Shereen Shermak @shrcubed who later became my wife, tore apart my application essays since there were written in a way that stripped away any personality. Her advice in writing was to make it authentic - pretend you're writing a note to a close friend rather than an anonymous admissions officer.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
What is your process for analysing whether you go for an angel investment?
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@bentossell I have this loose checklist where within 30 minutes, I try to make sure I understand at a surface level each of the key areas (http://venturefizz.com/blog/advi...). Big thing is mainly consistency across the different areas. For example, you can't have a low price product, targeting a high-end demographic, and spend zero on go-to-market.
Hari Mahesh@harimahesh · Building Fashion Experiences
@changds Thank you for sharing the framework! It seems to cover every aspect of a startup. Would you value / prioritize this framework higher than a pitch deck?
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@harimahesh I wouldn't do that. Pitch decks generally follow a specific order (many investors are trained to expect a certain flow). See http://nextviewventures.com/blog... for an example. The framework I shared is more geared along the lines of a checklist of things I like to make sure I understand in the first meeting.
Stephen Pancheri@sthomaspan · UX Architect & Product Manager
What do you think is the most important component of product-market fit? What's your secret sauce?
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@sthomaspan Not sure if I have a secret sauce. I do firmly believe (learned largely at TripAdvisor) is that iterations matter A LOT. Reducing the cycle time to test out ideas/concepts in-market is so key.
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@sthomaspan I think most people don't a high enough bar for product-market fit. My favorite definition is when a startup simply keep up with the demand. Most startups are a long way from true product-market fit.
Stephen Pancheri@sthomaspan · UX Architect & Product Manager
@changds Thank you for the reply. I completely agree with your comment on cycle time and I have suffered the consequences myself of having a lengthly development cycle. I personally find that while ideas are plentiful, and building is getting easier, the validation process is still a challenge.
Karan@iamkaransetiya · Founder, Veduo
Hi David, do you have a "gut feel" approach to investment decisions or a data-driven one, and what would you say works better?
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@iamkaransetiya There's a wide range of criteria that angel investors use, and I'm somewhere in the middle. It's a bit of gut feel, but backed by some logic (not necessarily data since there isn't much in the early days). When you pitch an angel, make sure you know how they make their decisions.
AngelInvestBoston@angelinvestbos
David, I'm grateful for you interview on my podcast (https://www.angelinvestboston.co...) I thought your answer to the question of how to decide to whether to raise more money or shut down your startup was excellent. It should be a natural progression from understanding your startup's role in the market it serves. "DAVID CHANG: It's absolutely a natural progression, and so the advice is, for founders that are building a business, make sure that either you or someone else on your team is very attuned to what's happening within the market. Less on the competition side, but more about your role in the market and how it fits ..." Would you care to add anything to that?
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@angelinvestbos it was so great to spend time with you on the podcast. Even early stage startups should have somewhere wearing the "corp dev" hat - usually the CEO or a trusted advisor. It happens more than you'd think. In fact, just 30 minutes before this chat, a startup asked me about what they should do to entertain an early deep partnership (that could potentially turn into an acquisition).
Jason Burke@jburkejburke · clypd
What sort of relationship do you carry forward with your angel portfolio and how do you want the companies to involve you? Passive, responding when they reach out to you? Proactive, requesting updates from them?
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@jburkejburke I have about 40 angel investments - about 15 direct ones where I was the lead or very involved in knowing the business. I tend to be on the more passive side and react to them when they ask or need some help. Since I tend to know those industries well, we usually dig in deep very quickly. For the other 25 indirect investments, I tend to know a bit less, so I help where I can and frequently connect them to other people who are smarter than I am in that particular field.
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@jburkejburke I also have a dozen or so companies where I active advise or informally mentor. On top of that, there are probably another 50 startups (it's a rotating list) that I've recently talked to or helped through my overall work in the ecosystem. It's a full plate, but I love it.
Laura Wallendal@laurawallendal
Hey David, great to see you on here. My question- is there a vertical that you're particularly interested to see grow?
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@laurawallendal I would love to see more tech/software type innovation in healthcare. Seems like there's a lot to be done there, and people here are well positioned to solve those kinds of problems.
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@laurawallendal There's also ed tech, which seems to have such great promise. I would LOVE to see a few founders knock it out of the part in that industry.
Matt Luongo@mhluongo · Founder, Fold
Hey David! Considering your experience at PayPal, what's your take on the cryptocurrency space?
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@mhluongo It's been a long time since PayPal, so I think the space has changed so much in a short period of time. Feels like someone like Jeremy Allaire @jerallaire would have good thoughts on this. When I met him a while back, I was pretty impressed with his views and long-term outlook, particularly as he took lessons from other industries and was applying them in this space.
David Chang@changds · Startup operator & angel investor
@mhluongo there are a few startups @dcufintechctr that know this space well