As a CEO, entrepreneur, private company owner, and public company officer, Dr. Wayne Tamarelli’s 40+ years of experience have encompassed general management, entrepreneurship, new ventures, mergers and acquisitions, and many more. He also has investments in several wine industry businesses.
His primary business activity is as a professional venture capital angel investor. He specializes in value-added investments in early-stage technology businesses. He is also a limited partner in several venture capital funds active in these areas. Dr. Tamarelli is Founding Chairman of Jumpstart New Jersey Angel Network and a member of the Band of Angels in Silicon Valley.
At the beginning of my career, I began a love affair with innovation inspired by Einstein, the space program, the pharmaceutical revolution, plastics, and alternative energy, among others. I served as Project Leader of New Ventures for Exxon, as Senior Vice President of the Engelhard Corporation and managed billion-dollar groups of worldwide businesses. In 1983, I purchased Dock Resins Corporation in a leveraged buyout and successfully grew its revenues and profits as Owner, Chairman, and CEO.
But before all that, I was a Professor and National Science Foundation Fellow at Carnegie-Mellon University, and then Captain in the US Army Corps of Engineers. I hold BS, MS, and PhD degrees in engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University and an MBA in marketing and international business from New York University.
My time in each of these capacities has taught me so much that it’s hard to distill it. But if I had to try, these are my lessons learned:
• Trends in Angel Investing include more formalization of the investigation and funding processes, more angel groups, and more syndication among angel groups and other early-stage investors.
• The biggest competitor for startups is Non-Adoption due to customers having other priorities.
• The lead investor is the key to any investment deal. There are different skills needed for leading investment deals versus following as investors. At AWT, we do both.
• Angel investing is a marathon, not a sprint.• Follow-up financing is difficult. Many startups fail to get follow-up financing in order to cross the Funding Chasm.• Investors need to keep “dry powder” to help promising companies raise their valuations.
• Companies should be able to get introduced to investors, rather than making cold calls that have a very low probability of success.
• Many of the best companies bootstrap and wait for better valuations before major fundraising.
• Lemons ripen in about two years; plums take about seven.
• To get home runs, you have to invest in a lot of mediocre deals and some losers. Judging which will be which beforehand is hard.
• Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Angels invest where institutional VC funds and banks fear to tread.