Why I angel invest
After 6 years of operating at high growth startups, I found a new passion in helping founders as an angel investor.
Hi! I’m Andrea, currently product lead for Growth at Amplitude, and I started angel investing in seed-stage consumer and enterprise startups about a year ago. I want to share more about why I became an angel investor and my investment thesis. And if this resonates with you, I’d love to hear from anyone who might be interested in partnering or just getting to know each other.
My journey to angel investing
I grew up in Shanghai, China, and came to the U.S. for college. Despite being a top student in China in math and science, I initially came to Stanford to study art history and was obsessed with Johannes Vermeer, a 17th century Dutch painter most famous for his ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring'.
I love Vermeer because he portrays ordinary people and elevates them to look like royalty through his artistry, whereas other Dutch painters like Rembrandt in the same era only paint royalty on commission. That focus on discovering beauty and potential in ordinary people really drew me to Vermeer, which is why I spent 2.5 years as an art history scholar at Stanford and Oxford, chasing Vermeer paintings around the world.
Needless to say, I didn’t feel I fit in at Stanford. Being a contrarian, the fact that everyone was studying CS and wanted to start a tech startup made me determined not to do it myself. But I couldn’t help but exploring entrepreneurial initiatives the moment I arrived on campus as a freshman: I started a bilingual e-magazine focused on sharing the life stories of people working at the frontier of their domains with chapters in 4 universities around the world, and a cohort-based summer education program, Lizard Institute, an incubator for future leaders of China based in Beijing and now also in LA.
I almost became a wedding entrepreneur around 2017, explored ideas around a wedding planning startup and starting my own wedding gown brand (I was a big fan of Vera Wang), did a ton of discovery in both ideas, but didn’t find the right wedge to take on Zola/the Knot, and thought I’d need a strong personal brand first to have a successful wedding gown brand. So I decided to join Lime instead to help lead international expansion after stints in investment banking and management consulting.
I have been deep in operating in the last 6 years, and I saw firsthand how difficult and rewarding it is to scale a company from early stage to public. At Lime (series A to D), I helped the co-founders craft the story for Series B fundraising, secured the first city contracts, and later on, drove rapid international expansion on the product team. At Amplitude, I helped build and scale the product growth team, driving product-led growth from Series D to a direct listing and beyond.
Over the years, I have developed deep empathy and respect for founders and want to help more going through the entrepreneurial journey. They have taken a chance on me in the past, they are some of my best friends, and I want to be there for them since the very beginning.
Early stage (0-1) is my favorite stage of investing because it’s all about discovering potential before anyone else sees it. I love partnering with founders long before they need funding, to be a sounding board and be a long-term partner through thick and thin.
My Investment Theses
As an angel investor, I invest in the future of how we live, work, learn, and entertain. My angel investing focuses on seed or pre-seed startups in consumer (ed tech, consumer social, commerce) and enterprise (SaaS, future of work, product-led companies). I support investments with their growth strategy, improving how they build products and hiring key team members.
In consumer, I am excited about how we entertain (metaverse, livestream shopping) and make a living (passion economy, future of work). In edtech, I believe there will be major shifts in how kids in k-12 and knowledge workers will learn and upskill.
In enterprise, I am bullish on SaaS products born out of former operators who lived the pain of workflows or use cases that could be solved by technology, across infrastructure and SaaS. And I look for teams that are focused on solving end-user pain and relentlessly customer-obsessed. I look pretty broadly across SaaS (horizontal and vertical), infrastructure (data), applied AI/ML.
But regardless of vertical, I love to partner with founders who are learning animals and have the ambition, grit and vision to create new categories.
There has never been a better time to build
After a historic week last week that probably sent a lot of investors and consumers into pessimism about the economy, I am more bullish than ever on the innovation and entrepreneurship we might see in this economic climate in the next few years. And I want to partner with more founders on their journey.
I think we will see more ambitious, talented individuals who will finally strike out on their own, when the opportunity cost of staying at growth stage companies has become significantly higher. Founders who have a lot of grit in withstanding the tough times; those who are financially responsible, capital-efficient about how they run their business and are in it for the right reasons, will come out as winners in 2-3 years and be rewarded for their patience and hard work.
And I can’t be more excited to partner with more of these founders and help shape the next wave of generational companies.
If you are a founder working on new ideas, even if you are not raising or do not need funding now, I want to hear from you and discuss how I can help.
If you are a fellow angel investor or an institutional investor, I’d love to meet you and partner in future investments.
How to get in touch with me: