Startup Grind Winston-Salem hosts Andy Dreyfuss (Venn Capital)

Andy Dreyfuss (Angel Investor and Partner with Venn Capital) didn’t see himself becoming an investor after he graduated from Santa Clara University with a degree in Economics. In fact, Andy spent many years employed at some well-known organizations (Apple, SAP, Coca-Cola) before finding his niche as a successful investor.

Motivated by Atlanta traffic, Andy and his family moved to Winston-Salem in 2002, where he took on the position of Director of the Career Management for the Babcock Graduate School of Management at Wake Forest University. In this position, Andy worked directly with the students, most of whom had dropped out of the workforce in order to explore other opportunities. “You were a Honda, you want to be an Acura. We can do that, but we have very little time.”  It was in this role that Andy first learned of the Piedmont Angel Network (PAN).

“The whole premise of getting involved in something early and seeing it grow and hopefully adding value along the way, and if it all works out, there’s a very healthy return.”

Andy speaks very highly of his experience with the Piedmont Angel Network and Venn Capital, which sound similar, but are actually very different entities. Angel groups are a network around the country. “Credited investors get together and pay some dues, and that gives them the right to come to meeting and invest in your startup,” said Andy. “Not the obligation, but the right. It’s easy to get people in the room, it’s not necessarily easy to get them to invest.”  Capital funds are different. They go out and solicit investors up front for the money, and then the group votes on where that capital goes.

So what advice does Andy have for an aspiring entrepreneur who’s hoping to present in front of one of these types of investor groups? “The investors want to see the problem statement and the solution, the customers, the business model wrapped around the problem, solution, customers. They want to understand your financial needs, and how long it will take, and what their exit strategy is. And who will buy their business? Investors only get paid if someone buys out their shares.”