We’ve invested in early stage companies for a long time, through economic good times and bad, and done enough deals to know that it requires patience and active portfolio management to be successful. As angels and co-directors of Launchpad Venture Group, we learned that to achieve returns in early stage investing, you have to pay attention to the details: track company progress, understand which companies and industries have the highest growth potential, analyze key performance metrics, and monitor upcoming events like warrant expirations and escrow payouts.
Most early stage investors don't realize they have a portfolio management problem until it’s too late. As your portfolio grows, all those emails, signature pages, documents and investor reports start to pile up and go ignored, and the problem only snowballs with follow-ons, note conversions, warrants, and tax deadlines.
In 2012, we began to feel this pain acutely, and we saw it happen to all our peers as well. Diversification into a large number of companies is key to success as an angel investor, so you quickly outgrow basic tools like spreadsheets, email folders and paper files. You work too hard for your returns to accept losses due to inadequate record-keeping.
But when we researched startup investing platforms and angel group software, we found nothing that met our needs. It was clear that if we were going to get a handle on this issue, we were going to need a tool - one that got us organized, made it easier to report out to group members, and allowed us to share good records with our accountants and family if something happened to us.
Having spent most of our careers in the software industry, we launched our own startup and set out to build a powerful angel investment solution to address the challenges of managing and valuing angel investments. Today we use Seraf to track the Launchpad group portfolio, as well as our personal portfolios and all three of the funds we operate. Thousands of angels, VCs, family offices, accelerators and angel groups around the world have joined us, making Seraf the leader in early stage portfolio management.
And because we are passionate about investing in startups, in the fall of 2014 we launched The Seraf Compass to provide angel education and share our learning, experiences and insights with the community. The Compass is an industry-leading collection of free tools, articles, eBooks and videos, organized into advanced courses & topics and has been awarded one of the best angel investing blogs by BPlans and Personal Income.
Welcome to Seraf. We love it, our colleagues and customers love it, and we hope you will too.
Hambleton (Ham) Lord
Ham Lord is an active member of the Boston entrepreneurial community. In the early part of his career he was on the founding team of three software companies: MicroChem Technologies, Polygen and Advanced Visual Systems. In 2000, Ham joined a small angel group and became one of the region’s most active angel investors. Since 2002, Ham has been at the forefront of developing best practices for angel investing.
Seraf is his latest company with the explicit goal of bringing a new level of professionalization to the angel investment asset class through startup investing software and angel investor education. Ham regularly publishes articles and eBooks on all aspects of early stage investing and has co-authored several books including Fundamentals of Angel Investing and Leaders Wanted: Making Startup Deals Happen which are available at Amazon.com.
In addition to his role as a Co-Founder of Seraf, Ham is the Co-Managing Director of Launchpad Venture Group, an angel investment group focused on seed and early-stage investments in technology-oriented companies. Through his involvement with Launchpad, Ham has built a personal portfolio of 35+ early stage investments. In addition, he is a board member or board observer for Building Engines, EveryScape, Qstream and Repsly.
Due to the combination of roles as an investor, advisor and angel group leader, Ham was named one of Xconomy's “Top Angel Investors in New England.”
Seraf Co-Founder Christopher Mirabile is the Chair of the Angel Capital Association and Co-Managing Director of Launchpad Venture Group, an angel investment group focused on seed and early-stage investments in technology-oriented companies. Christopher has served as a public CFO with IONA Technologies PLC, a management consultant with Price Waterhouse's Strategic Consulting Group, and as a corporate and securities lawyer with Testa Hurwitz & Thibeault.
Christopher's portfolio management skills and insights are born of experience. He is a full-time angel and an active member of the Boston-area angel investing community. Not only does he help manage the Launchpad portfolio of 50+ companies, but he has personally invested in over 70 separate fund-raising rounds in 45+ start-up companies and is a limited partner in four specialized angel funds. He uses this experience and knowledge to provide angel education through articles and eBooks, and has co-authored several books including Fundamentals of Angel Investing and Leaders Wanted: Making Startup Deals Happen which are available at Amazon.com.
Christopher is also a board member, advisor and mentor to numerous start-ups, and a frequent panelist and speaker on entrepreneurship and angel-related topics. He serves as an adjunct lecturer in Entrepreneurship in the MBA program at Babson. For these reasons he was named one of Xconomy's “Top Angel Investors in New England.”
Director of Marketing and Services
Whitney Leslie has over 14 years of communications and operations experience across a variety of industries. She served as Media Planner at Ogilvy & Mather, Arnold Advertising, and Circle Interactive, then Director of Online Marketing at Staples.com. Most recently Whitney consulted for telecommunications and clean energy startups developing marketing and strategic development initiatives. She graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University with a degree in Classics.
Whitney brings these communications and entrepreneurial skills to Seraf, where she oversees customer relations, sales and marketing, and the content development of angel investing resources. She also helps implement powerful portfolio management solutions for angel groups, VCs, accelerators, family offices and early stage funds.
Portfolio Operations Manager
Hilary has over a decade of experience working in private equity and consulting. Starting her career at Watermill Group, a middle-market private equity firm, she assessed investment opportunities, developed strategy to turnaround underperforming companies, and handled marketing, communications, and investor relations.
Having lived in Asia, Europe, and the US, Hilary has advised numerous organizations on ways to improve the customer experience, marketing and communications, product design and development, language, and process improvement. She is an active organizer and volunteer for several local non-profits with regard to fundraising, communications, and community development.
Hilary applies her diverse skillset to Seraf in the areas of portfolio operations and implementation, marketing and communications, and client services.