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Frustrations of an Angel Investor – Introduction

In the last two or three years, I’ve been fortunate to have some money to invest, and was quickly attracted to becoming an “Angel”. In my twenties, I was a reluctant entrepreneur – there was a terrible recession and few good jobs to be had, and, faced with redundancy and a young family, went into business on my own, latching onto something that enthused me, used all my talents and that “just might work”. In those days there were no Angels, and I had no rich family. Like everyone else, I went begging to the banks, and got mortgaged up to the hilt. Even then it was a struggle, but I survived through further recessions and finally came good.

“If only”, I thought – so I became an Angel investor, purely (please believe me) with the altruistic aim of helping a few brilliant but misunderstood young entrepreneurs succeed sooner and less painfully than I did. I’d like to help, not only with money, but with my time and experience.

So far, I’ve been disappointed by what I’ve found. Of course there are some great new business ideas out there being turned into reality by inspired and competent individuals who will become successful business people, delivering valuable goods and services that make the world a better place for the next generation to live in. But there are far fewer than I expected….

In this short series of articles, I’ll explain my thinking, say what I see as wrong with the Angel “ecosystem” (how I hate that word!) and offer thoughts on improving it. These are all my personal opinions, and you may disagree. I’m very open to comment and constructive criticism.

By Oliver Dowson

Over the last 40 years, I’ve built companies in many countries from the ground up. I have created, managed and sold businesses in UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Brazil, India, China, Germany, Czech Republic and Spain. I have travelled extensively in over 120 countries, spending an average of 8 months a year over the last 20 years away from my home base.
In my early business life, I successfully created 7 new businesses in different sectors in the UK for overseas owners. I moved on to invent and build one of the world's first energy and environmental management consultancies – long before Global Warming became a headline issue. Over the following 30 years, I grew that company, EnTech, into a true international business by opening 11 offices in 9 countries - and along the way, set up many more international companies for others.

I’m fortunate and proud that EnTech became the international energy management company of choice for Fortune 100 multinationals, selling services directly to GE, GM, HSBC, Citi, Honeywell and many others. Working closely with them gave me invaluable insights both into how multinationals work and the different business cultures in countries around the world. In April 2014, I sold EnTech to EnerNOC, becoming a Vice President and overseeing a seamless M&A transition over the next 18 months.

In all my business activities I’ve also used my languages and programming/software development expertise.
I am also now a Business Angel, investing in companies with international ambitions where I can provide mentoring and support from my practical experience, especially those headed up by women and minorities.

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