John Ason, Top Angel Investor on His Investing Philosophy


It isn’t a hidden fact that ace angel investor, John Ason, has funded more than 80 start-up companies in his 20-year long career. In a lot of these projects, he has been the lead angel. Angel investing has the reputation of being a highly risky field. However, the tech market in New York city is quite younger when compared to the Silicon Valley.

Ason’s investing philosophy

So what is Mr. Ason’s investing philosophy? What is it that convinces him to put his money into a project even if it beholds a lot of risk and unpredictability? Let’s find out!

John compares a new angel investor to a fox. Why? He says that the entire process of new market creation or old market disruption is bound to conflict your original assumptions. The majority of the other VCs and investors have a tendency to think and execute plans like hedgehogs. These people are solely driven by data and are resistant to accepting anything which is not in line with their standard metrics.

Ason says that nearly all his investments are pre-customer and pre-revenue. He isn’t very much interested in lengthy presentations or detailed business plans. In fact, they tend to create more confusion than clarity. When considering investing in a project, he simply looks at a one-page long executive summary. This summary should clearly highlight the market opportunity, assumptions, reasoning and the core competency of the company. He also prefers seeing ‘more’ white space and illustrations in the executive summary rather than choc-o-block text.

What Ason learned from investing

When asked about his biggest learning as an investor, John Ason gave quite an unexpected answer. He said it was ‘humility’. He said that the initial ten years of his career, he kept focusing on creating something big with average or mediocre people. In the second decade of his career, he switched his focus to great individuals who had a decent idea. He noticed that the second decade of his career had really brought down his failure rate.

John Ason thus concluded that people rank high above ideas. He has also encouraged his companies to present their ideas and plans to big competitors. Why? This could sometimes cause the competing businesses to cancel on a project which is very similar. He believes that it isn’t the idea which discourages them. They simply get intimidated by how quickly a startup could begin to climb up the ladder when it has a set of great people.

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