As a startup founder and previous due diligence analyst, Graham Gintz has experienced fundraising pain points from both sides of the table.
“Most of the time, it’s because people start pitching investors too early. Maybe they don’t have the right narrative or they don’t have the right metrics, or they don’t know what investors expect when there’s so much deal flow,” Gintz tells Hypepotamus.
With growing empathy for both the investor and the founder, Gintz set out to streamline how startups pitch, send updates and raise capital. The result: Knightley.
While Knightley is designed to improve how investors and founders connect, network, and ultimately get deals done, he tells Hypepotamus it could help shape the next generation of angel investors.
Within Knightley, founders create their billboard, which Gintz describes as the “place to tell your story in your own voice. In three minutes, you should be able to tell me your vision.” By integrating with Loom for asynchronous video sharing, founders can introduce the team and provide product demos.
For Gintz, it’s about moving beyond the standard pitch deck.
“I think that pitch decks are close to being what business plans were 20 years ago. Before, when you wanted to raise capital, you wrote a 30 to 50-page business plan and it outlined everything that you were going to do. Pitch decks brought that down into a readable format, but there used to be only a couple hundred investors and 1000s of companies. Now that has blossomed to where we have 1000s of VCs and 10s and hundreds of 1000s of companies…[founders] need a way to tell their story and stand out.”
To date, Knightley has brought on around 300 founders to the platform. While industry agnostic, Gintz says that most founders on the platforms are “accelerator-grade companies” anywhere from the idea to Series A phase.
THE RISE OF THE ANGEL INVESTOR
While the “pitch” for Knightley is data rooms for founders, Gintz sees the platform as the jumping-off point for a new group of angel investors to enter the space.
Gintz put it simply when he sat down with Hypepotamus about the new realities of investing. “Shark Tank is a hit for a reason. People want to play the game.”
Outside of accredited investors, angels can play an important role for startups looking to get their fundraising rounds done. As SPVs, RUVs, and the like have made it possible for angel investors to join cap tables, Knightley hopes to make it easier for founders to find the right investors fit early on.
“If you want to try to 100x your portfolio, there’s a space for that. If you are passionate that a certain group of people is underrepresented and you want to put your money to support those types of business owners, you can do that. And if you want to just learn because you’re interested in VC and you’re an MBA student, there’s room to be leveling up…it’s all about finding your risk profile,” adds Gintz. “The cool thing about working with angels is they just want to get you from zero to one.”
He heard this first hand when he turned to social media to connect with smaller check writers across the country. One interesting takeaway: For investors in the 25-40-year-old range, attaining wealth was not the main reason for writing $1,000 to $10,000 checks.
Many up-and-coming angel investors are looking to network, learn about new technologies, and ultimately explore new job opportunities. Gintz says he has heard from young angel investors that small check investing is about building a relationship and rapport with founders that might be used later down the road as the team scales.
“Basically they know with starter equity…if I’m on the right rocket ship, it can lead to generational wealth.”
Unlike traditional funds or syndicates, Knightley doesn’t charge a carry. Instead, it looks to be a community-centric, educational space for angels looking to get their feet wet without having to pay high fees for joining traditional angel networks. That might come as a shock to more traditional investors, Gintz acknowledges.
“Some people have not been open to changing [how they source investments]. I’m totally fine with that. Because if I would have told you 10 years ago that a forum in Reddit was shifting how hedge funds traded stocks in the public markets, no one would believe that. But that clearly happens.”
BUILDING IN ATLANTA, INVESTING BEYOND
Co-founder and CTO Robert Bunch and Gintz connected through the Georgia Tech and greater Atlanta startup community. Since then, they participated in Georgia Tech’s Create-X program and raised a small friends and family funding round to scale.
They are now taking Knightley to ProductHunt.
Those interested in angel investing can join Knightley for $20 a month and investor minimums are set at $1,000.
For founders ready to scale, Knightley’s fundraising tools are free.