Note: Monique Idlett-Mosley is Co-President of Mosley Music Group and the wife of Timbaland. She was joined by Erica Minnihan, Executive Director at STAR Angel Network. Unless otherwise noted, all responses are by Ms. Idlett-Mosley.
AA: What got you into angel investing?
Monique Idlett-Mosley: We have a number of financial advisors who are extremely are great at what they do. They’ve brought some amazing opportunities to our door. However, I wanted to take more of a hands-on approach to expanding our portfolio and STAR Angel provides just that. It’s exciting to hear about things before everyone else does, to get in at an early stage where you can actually sit in the room when exciting, genuine ideas are being thrown around, and you feel a part of something.
That’s why STAR Angel Network is so important: it provides me with the opportunity to support new and innovative companies that are eager to make their mark on the world.
Tell me more about STAR Angel Network?
Erica: We are based in several cities and cater to current and retired professional athletes and celebrities. We launched in May 2012 and at this time, we have 50 members. The STAR Angel Network grew out of an Executive MBA program that our parent company, STAR Industries, owned. Monique was in their inaugural class. My business partner, Michael Lythcott, realized that a lot of the students in the class were making private investments, but that there was a lack of discipline. They were getting some dealflow, but they didn’t have an overall exposure to what was out there. They were getting things referred in from friends, but did not have a holistic approach to evaluate several opportunities against each other. The goal of STAR Angel Networks is to allow everyone to share dealflow; to allow everyone to participate in the investment analysis process; to have professional due diligence on each of the deals; and to get our members actively involved in the companies on boards, using their access and influence to help create value for our portfolio companies. Lastly, we want to give our members portfolio diversification which some people don’t realize is so important when you are investing in this kind of high risk, high return asset class.
What was your first angel investment?
Bespoke Post was one of my first investments. Bespoke comes up with these great boxes that house unique items that subscribers get to purchase before anyone else does. Often, people forget that men do like to shop and feel like they are finding out about something first. What I liked about this particular company was their idea: it was brilliant. In addition, they’re such a young company, and were profitable in their first year. When does that happen? Plus, I love the partners they have, especially Conde Nast, their image really aligns with our company principles.
Most humbling experience (relating to angel investing)?
I feel like, here we are, in this industry where we have all this experience and you almost feel like professionally you’ve reached your plateau. Now, however, you come into a whole new world and realize you absolutely know nothing. It’s such a humbling experience to get to learn all these new things, to be introduced to all these new sectors and new people, and to understand just how many amazing new ideas are out there.
What was the worst pitch you have seen so far?
Where they actually said something negative about their own company. He clearly was not ready to present. He didn’t know anything about his company. Another guy was supposed to come and help him present – he really should not have gone on with that presentation. Some people get really nervous presenting in front of celebrities. But some presenters come in, see these famous athletes, and they get a little star-struck, and nervous. I think they might be intimidated. But if you are the CEO of the company, you should be able to operate under any circumstance, to sell your vision to anyone.
What financial returns do you target for an angel investment?
I don’t want to lose anything (laughs). I would rather have a company with small, steady growth but that stays around than have a one-hit wonder that looks like it’s doing great and then, all of a sudden, it’s gone. That’s my worst fear. STAR has a really good screening process so that before it even gets to us, we know we are seeing successful people who have great ideas and who have created profitable businesses.
We are comfortable with companies that we can invest in at a $3M-$5M valuation that we feel have a good chance of getting at least a $50M exit. So we are usually looking for a 10x return on our money and hoping that the company can be sold within the next 3-7 years.
What makes you and your classmates different from the average angel?
What we hear in the pitches is that they really value the network. There is a “Cool Factor” when it comes to associating with certain kinds of celebs – the ones who have 5M or 6M Facebook followers. There are definitely additional benefits to engaging with current and former athletes, or with someone in the entertainment business.
Also, I think sometimes people are surprised by just how intelligent we really are, how engaged we really are, and how much we add value. STAR brings in the best of the best professors to teach our classes – from Columbia, UCLA, GW. Some of our professors have walked not knowing what to expect, but to their surprise, end up walking away saying that this has been the best MBA class they have ever taught. That says a lot.
Pretend that it’s 2019 and complete this sentence, “[Technology X] is less than 5 years old and now I can’t imagine life without it.”
One area I am very interested in is robotics. Robots are still so corporate but will soon become a part of our everyday life, doing things we cannot. There’s so much potential there. It fascinates me.