When it comes to investing in private enterprises, success is often defined by a company’s revenue, customer base, and other performance metrics. But what happens when the companies you are interested in haven’t even sold a product?
Just ask Ben Zises, angel investor, fund manager, and founder of SuperAngel.Fund. In the turbulent world of venture capital, Ben has earned his reputation by funding companies at their inception (known in the industry as an “angel” investment). Ben has helped numerous start-ups, with both funding and advisory support, to power through their tenuous early stages and overcome obstacles on their journeys to success.
Early stage companies are rarely market-tested. As such, angel investors rely heavily on their intuition and other qualitative key selection metrics. Ben searches for those entrepreneurs that have the edge necessary to achieve success – a process he describes as “more of an art than a science.” Before every investment, he takes time to get to know the company’s founders intimately, looking for individuals who are resourceful, resilient, fastidious, and, above all else, driven. These traits can make all the difference in a company’s ability to find success.
Ben’s ability to identify up-and-coming entrepreneurs is just one tool he uses to set SuperAngel.Fund apart. Drawing on his own experience as a founder, Ben devotes a substantial amount of time towards advising the fund’s companies on an individualized basis, offering mentorship and acute insight during times of need. Ben also leverages his extensive network of other founders, operators, fund managers, and private investors in the New York region to help his companies procure capital and lend additional expertise. Maybe most importantly, however, is Ben’s unwavering support for each company in SuperAngel’s portfolio. Ben prides himself in being more than a financial resource for entrepreneurs; he is also their most relentless advocate, and is most proud of the references that founders share about him (read here).
Ben started angel investing in 2014 after meeting the founders and writing the first check into quip, an oral care company that started out by selling high-design electric toothbrushes via subscription online. Today, quip offers much more: it has expanded into other product categories like mouthwash, floss, and aligners, along with new retail/distribution channels like Target and Walmart, and more recently, launching professional dental-related services.
Using the success of quip as momentum, Ben began making angel investments into other consumer product companies, investing nearly $4 million of his own money and that of his network through special purpose vehicles (SPVs), eventually selecting 30 more companies to invest in between 2014 and 2020. As many of those other businesses showed signs of growth and success too, Ben decided to go all in as an angel investor to enable him to do what he loved and believed he could excel at professionally on a full-time basis.
He launched SuperAngel.Fund in January 2021 to scale his investment platform, and ever since, the fund and its portfolio companies have delivered upon their promise of growth. Inclusive of his earlier investments, the fund has now deployed over $12 million in capital to more than 75 companies and grown its assets to an estimated value of $30 million (62% IRR). The fund counts more than 100 LPs as investors, and focuses on categories where Ben has either an information, educational, access, or network advantage. Namely, businesses in consumer (CPG, eCommerce SaaS), property tech, and future-of-work technology.
Given the nature of his fund registered as a 506(c), Ben is able to publicly share his fund materials and deck, which is accessible at the website: SuperAngelDeck.com. He also writes a regular newsletter series each week called ‘Founder Fridays’ that highlights each of the companies in his portfolio and the founders behind them – sign up for it here.
Other notable investments Ben has made include Caraway, Arber, Settle, Density, and Swag.com, the last of which had a successful exit in 2021, selling to Custom Ink for an undisclosed yet meaningful exit for all investors.
Ben Zises is a formidable investor who strives to become nothing less than one of the top-performing angels, leading one of the top-performing angel funds in the world.