Caveat Emptor: Angel Investing Courses on Due Diligence

Angel investing courses on due diligenceAs the Seraf Compass was approaching its four year anniversary, our attention turned to more active learning. We collected Compass insights and developed them into a suite of comprehensive courses allowing active learners to access the Compass materials in course form. As the project progressed, we partnered with the Angel Capital Association to co-brand the materials and allow the ACA to use them in their education efforts. Since we share the same mission and values as the ACA, we are very proud to be their official Education Partner. There are eight basic courses organized into four collections. Each course is available in electronic format or as part of one of several hard-copy books, all of which are available in both a student edition and an instructor edition with detailed teaching notes and classroom exercises.

What material is covered in these due diligence courses?

Fundamentals of Due Diligence will introduce you to the three key steps of effective due diligence:  

  1. Identifying Key Risks

  2. Developing the Investment Thesis

  3. Acknowledging “What Needs to Be Believed” to Invest

Since the duration of this class is relatively short (i.e. 30 minutes), we frequently combine slides from this class with slides for one of our other introductory angel investing classes.

Essentials of Due Diligence includes the slides and speaker notes for an in-depth, 2 hour class. In addition to covering some of the materials discussed in the introductory class, we dig deep into the types of questions we recommend you ask during diligence, major risks that should concern you, and how to structure deals to work well for founders and investors. The course will provide detailed material in four main areas:

  1. Team

  2. Product

  3. Market

  4. Financials

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Classroom Exercises

To help increase engagement with students and to improve their retention of the course material, we encourage the course instructors to add one or more exercises as part of the classroom experience. The Instructor Edition of each course contains extensive descriptions of suggested classroom exercises. Exercise descriptions should be reviewed in detail prior to teaching a class and an appropriate version of each classroom exercise should be developed for your particular teaching scenario.

The Due Diligence courses cover a lot of material in a short period of time. Students will benefit from taking a deeper dive into one or more of the topics covered by these courses. For example, in both versions of the course, we talk about the importance of identifying key risks. Because this is such an important issue during due diligence, it deserves a more thorough discussion by your students.

Based on the amount of time you allocate for the classroom exercise, you should be able to rely on a couple of tables to help you pull out one or two key insights on each of the key issues in the exercises. And depending on the amount of available time, these reports should bring a number of interesting questions and talking points forward for the instructor to comment upon.

Well executed classroom exercises will have a big impact on how your students perceive the value of the course in their personal experience. Make sure you take time in advance of teaching these courses to review this exercise plan and prepare engaging exercises. And, don’t be surprised if you learn something new from your students as they report out their results from the challenges you gave to them!

Notes on Accessing the Content for Classroom Instruction

There are several documents that are part of the course content for these two classes. The student slide decks are in PDF format. They are published online and can be downloaded at the following URLs:

The instructor slide decks, which include speaker notes, are also in PDF format. They too are published online and can be downloaded at the following URLs:

Embedded within the speaker notes you will find web links to more detailed content on the topics covered in the slides. For the PDF files, you can click on these links to access the in-depth content. If you prefer a hard copy edition, you can purchase the printed books at Amazon.


To learn more about performing due diligence quickly and effectively: