Four Characteristics Of a Rockstar Angel Investor

Forbes Article

Over the past five years, I have had the privilege of meeting and working with hundreds of angel investors. Armed with this recent experience, I felt it would be a great honor to help new entrepreneurs and budding investors themselves better understand what four characteristics to look for in a rock star angel.

Most entrepreneurs find satisfaction in expressing their ideas and bringing their brand and innovative products from pencil-to-production. On a daily basis, we are bombarded with national headlines that highlight entrepreneurial rags-to-riches stories. The sad truth about the journey is that it is grueling, gritty and far from glamorous. True entrepreneurs are obsessed with their craft and have the stomach for the entrepreneurial roller coaster ride.

I have found that one of the keys to entrepreneurial success is having the proper resources and partners on board. This is especially critical during the formation and early stages of a ventures growth. During this phase, the support of angel investors can play a critical role in a company’s success.

If entrepreneurs are the engines of economic growth, angel investors are the gasoline to the economic engine. Strong angels typically have many or all four of the following characteristics:

They Are Not Just Committed to Raising Capital

The strongest angel investors that I have worked with are committed rather than merely interested in the business that they invest in. These angels exhibit empathy, engagement and loads of encouragement during the formidable years of a fledgling startups growth. Interestingly, I have found that investors who exhibit these characteristics typically have prior experience founding and growing businesses. Such angels have startup blood running through their veins, want to stay close to the startup game that they love, give back to the vocation that ignited their souls and provide direct benefit to the vibrant, innovative, growing startup ecosystem in their community.

Look for angels with past entrepreneurial experiences and who can spend time with your founding team and employees. This will make them helpful in both identifying challenges and recommending solutions. In the early stages of a company, these challenges are not always business problems but rather often work-life balance challenges. Ambitious work schedules can result in difficulty maintaining your work-life balance. For instance, one of the best angel investors I have ever worked with recognized my work-life imbalance and actually recommended I spend more time with my family, especially during the weekends. This angel recognized that in order for me to function most effectively and in turn maximize his ROI, he wanted me to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

They Are Proactive Network Activators

In order for a startup to succeed, the CEO needs to be able to recruit and retain the best talent. The talent includes new employees, new strategic partners, advisors, board members, potential acquirers and even new investors. Angels that open up their Rolodex (or function as “Archangels") and make warm introductions can make a big difference when it comes to startup business growth. One direct way to assess an angel's connections is to ask them about past deals they have done, conferences they attend and potential partners that they would be interested in putting you in contact with. Another way to assess an angel's experience is to use online directory platforms, such as and These platforms allow you to research, connect and pitch to reputable, connected angels. In addition, you can check out a potential angel investor's online presence, blog, connections and followers on Linkedin, Twitter and Instagram. One of our strongest angels/mentors consistently made warm introductions to leading CEOs and business leaders in the industry.

They Push for Brand Awareness

Brand momentum is a product of mass and velocity, and startups inherently have a low mass and require high-velocity partners. The recent growth on online and social media sites allows news to spread considerably faster than in past years, and angel investors can play a supportive role to the companies that they invest in by spreading the company news via their social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin and Twitter). One way to encourage partners to spread the company news is to tag them in company posts and send them links to recent news stories directly and ask them to share.

They Provide Financial Capital

Last but not least, a rock star angel investor puts their money where their mouth is and actually writes big checks.

The support of a few rock star angel investors can mean the difference between a company’s success or failure. Be selective in the angels you work with on your journey. The strongest angels are committed, empathetic, encouraging and engaged. They stand by the entrepreneur during difficult times and work to overcome setbacks. They maintain open communication with the entrepreneur and proactively make valuable introductions from their network. They are committed to helping you spread the great news about your brand and company products. Finally, they write big checks so the entrepreneur can focus on the most important aspect of the business -- the business itself.

Top CEOs in San Antonio


Top CEOs in USA from Owler --

We’re back at it again. Last winter, our HOT In City Awards made waves around the internet (seriously, we still hear about it from the Owler Community daily). Based on popular demand, we’re introducing our first annual 2017 Owler Top Rated CEO Awards. Winners are chosen directly based on opinions and contributions from our community.

In a little over two weeks (the week of 5/15), we’ll announce the most loved leaders at companies spanning over 50 cities and across more than 20 industries. And, there’s still time to impact the results. So, get excited and get ready to rate your CEO and the CEOs that you love—such as your vendors, partners, suppliers, and customers.

Winners are directly chosen by the Owler Community via member contributions. This year alone, Owler Community members have contributed over a quarter million CEO ratings.

So what, precisely, does it take to win? Well, first and foremost, to qualify for an award, a CEO must have 10 or more votes on Owler. Out of the 167,000 CEOs on Owler, we’ll be distributing 1,000 awards to the top CEOs, meaning that only the créme de la créme of corporate commanders—the top 0.60 percent—will make the cut.

But what if there’s a tie, you ask? Great question! If any two CEOs have the exact same rating, the leader with more votes will rank higher—so you might want to mention that during your next water cooler conversation.

Alright, now that you know how it works, we’ll get to the good stuff: how you can contribute. Because we want to make voting super easy and ultra accessible, there are several places for you to rate a CEO.

First, is on a company’s profile (in two places). In the top left hand side of the profile, immediately below the CEO’s approval rating, you’ll see a “weigh-in” link, a one-click poll asking you to rate that company’s CEO. Simply click the face of your choosing (either good, neutral, or bad) and, voila! You’ve submitted your vote.

Guy to Know: Gerald Wilmink - San Antonio Magazine

Reprinted from

Gerald “Jerry” Wilmink, Ph.D., M.B.A., CEO Founder of WiseWear


Dr. Gerald “Jerry” Wilmink earned his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Vanderbilt University and, more recently, an M.B.A. from UT Austin, all of which prepared him well for what he is doing today as the founder and CEO of WiseWear, a promising tech startup that makes “wise” wearables. Though a number of companies have rushed into this field, WiseWear’s products, aimed at women, are actually attractive enough to wear as jewelry.

At present, the company offers three styles of bracelets that hide a sensing device that monitors fitness-related parameters such as heart rate, the number of steps walked, distance traveled, calories burned and total active time. In addition, should the wearer find herself in an emergency situation, she can simply tap her bracelet to send a distress signal to a predetermined list of contacts, along with information about her location.

What makes these products unique is the material used and their stylish look. No cheap plastic here. The three styles, collectively dubbed the Socialite Collection, are all made of brass, plated in 18-karat gold or rhodium. The bracelets connect to your phone, giving the wearer more options.

Prior to launching WiseWear in 2013, Wilmink worked first as a research associate with the National Academy of Sciences, in which capacity he founded and led the first terahertz (Thz)-sensing lab for the Defense Department. The lab co-developed the first THz spectrometer to assess skin burn injuries in battlefield situations. (Terahertz radiation is part of the electromagnetic spectrum, between microwaves and infrared light waves, but the technology to detect or use its power was practically nonexistent at the time.)

We met with Dr. Wilmink at his company’s headquarters on the North Side, where at least 10 biomedical and electrical engineers are busy developing health-related tech devices.

What brought you to San Antonio?
When I got my Ph.D., I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up. So I was exploring research positions and received the National Academy of Sciences postdoctoral research fellowship to start a new lab for the Department of Defense — the Terahertz Biosensing Laboratory. That was located at Brooks City Base here.

What motivated you to start WiseWear?
The inspiration was my grandfather Dominic Cameratta. I was raised by him and my mother. He suffered from a condition called Lewy Body Dementia, which is a cross between Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. His symptoms included memory issues and changes in gait and balance issues. In 2010, he got up in the middle of the night, lost his balance and fell. He passed away the day after Christmas that year.

Before passing, however, he asked me, “When are you going to start that medical device business that you’ve been talking about since graduate school?”

I have always wanted to create devices that help people, and that’s why I pursued biomedical engineering. However, in the research environment I never felt like I was making a real impact in helping people. His death was the beginning of this whole idea. Our first product was a hearing aid that had three elements – it functioned as a hearing aid but also had sensors that detected dehydration and the ability to tell seniors that they were in danger of falling down. It was the first preventive way to prevent older people’s falls. That product requires FDA approval, and it’s still in production.
Along the way we patented an antenna system that allows us to transmit Bluetooth within the confines of a metal medical device. Previous wearables were made of plastic because it’s easy to transmit Bluetooth signals to a smart phone through plastic. We patented a system that allows us to transmit these signals through metal. This breakthrough was the foundation of our business. Women don’t want to wear plastic; they want to wear real jewelry.

That’s a huge leap forward for wearables.
Our selection of metal is genius on a number of levels. First, our system allows us to transmit Bluetooth signals 10 times further than normal Bluetooth, which is a big deal. Second, metals exhibit an oligodynamic effect, which means they are antimicrobial; they don’t carry bacteria like plastic, so there will be no skin rashes and things like that. And they are water-resistant (safe for showers, sweat and any weather conditions.) And here is a cool thing: Our products are mix-and-match. We call it “the beauty and the brain.” (He proceeds to demonstrate how the bracelet can be separated into the top “beauty” part and the lower “brain” part and how the same brain part may be recombined with a different top for a different look.)

Who designed the styles of the Socialite Collection?
We believe that form, function and fashion truly intersect in our products. We are partnering with some leading designers from New York City. Our first designer was Lee Chen, who served as a chief operating officer at Ippolita and also worked for Swatch and Tom Hardy. She is now on our board. She and her team flew in from New York, and we designed the collection together. And we have plans to do other collections with other designers as well.

Are the bracelets available for sale, and if so, where?
Through our website (, and soon from some major retailers, but we can’t discuss their names at this time.

On your website I saw a product called Evolve. What is it?
There are five products in production here. The bracelets are the first to hit the market. Evolve is a health and fitness monitoring device for professional sports players and fitness enthusiasts. It’s not a jewelry-type product.

You are often invited to speak at various conferences such as TEDMED and SXSW. What do you talk about?
I am invited to speak on a variety of topics — technology, entrepreneurship, innovation and about how we developed our products. I’ve probably given a few hundred talks by now and published 60-plus papers on sensor technology and engineering. I also have 10 pending patents worldwide. I was a pretty big nerd before I chose this (current) route. I ran a research lab, so I published a lot of papers about our research. I also served as a program manager for the Department of Defense SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research program) and in that capacity helped businesses develop innovative sensing products.

What is your advice for budding entrepreneurs?
My main advice is, if you are starting a business, don’t do it to get rich. If you want that, become a hedge fund manager! My advice is, find the sweet spot … If you have a passion for something and you have the right skills, start the business because you can have a positive impact on the world. (He draws three circles on the board to represent passion, skills and impact, explaining that the sweet spot is where those three partially overlap.) If you can get to the intersection of these three things, you’ll never work a day in your life. That’s my best advice for someone who wants to start a business.