She’s a wife, a mom, an entrepreneur, an angel investor, and the first participant in the Integra Partners Win With Women venture partner program.
Alex co-founded the Philippines’ leading B2B SaaS HR solution, Sprout Solutions (an Integra Partners Fund I portfolio company), as well as clean skincare brand Pure Culture. As a seasoned founder, she knows what it takes to get a business off the ground and has first hand experience with fundraising, which makes her all the more passionate about her angel investing aspirations.
“I see my role in angel investing as a critical step in ensuring that more female founders survive the brutal early days of building a company from scratch,” she says. “I know how hard it is to build a business. It takes time, and energy, and resources. As a founder – a participant in this growing startup community – I see so many great business ideas and problems I want to solve, but there are just not enough hours in the day. By angel investing in startups that are solving issues I’m passionate about, I get to have skin in the game. I get to help get these ideas off the ground and I get to play a part in the great work that they do.”
As with many angel investors, Alex has a spectrum of reasons for angel investing. Her primary motivation isn’t financial gain. “I view angel investing as an opportunity to support entrepreneurs and contribute to solving challenges in areas I am passionate about such as health, fitness, and finance. The financial returns are certainly a consideration, but they are not the sole focus. I understand that investing in early-stage companies carries risks, and I am always prepared for the possibility of losing my investment capital.”
Which makes the decision of how to size investments and allocate capital a particularly tricky one.
Alex shares that there are no hard and fast rules for how she allocates funds for angel investments. What gets earmarked for angel investing can be flexible after considering other types of investments she makes to reach her financial goals. “The majority is still allocated to public investments like stocks and bonds,” she says. And while she does not have a specific target allocation, she aims to maintain a balance between liquid and illiquid investments. Her focus is on the long-term viability of her financial goals while allowing for opportunistic investments in startups.
Angel investing offers individuals the opportunity to support innovative startups and participate in their growth. Alex Gentry’s experiences provide valuable insights into the considerations and challenges faced in the world of angel investing. By focusing on areas of personal interest, building relationships, and evaluating opportunities based on market potential and founder passion, angel investors can navigate the exciting and ever-evolving startup ecosystem.
Alex is particularly interested in supporting women founders and co-founders in Southeast Asia who get only about 12.6% of the total capital (according to DealStreet Asia’s 2022 data) and she especially wants to use her experience as a founder for the greater good. As a participant in the Win With Women venture partner program, Alex is working with Integra’s investment team to add more structure to her approach in hopes of giving even greater opportunities for female entrepreneurs.
“My angel investing experience began like many others’,” she says. “I invested in friends with promising business ideas. In the beginning it was not a particularly sophisticated process.
“My first angel investments were quite opportunistic and casual. I learned about some of these businesses over long periods of time, usually over casual conversations with friends and peers who were founders. I only considered angel investing when I heard they were doing a funding round. It was not as deliberate as deciding ‘I now want to be an angel investor’.
“But with experience, I now see angel investing as a great channel for supporting industries I have a legitimate interest in and I want to be more deliberate in my investment analysis.”
Angel investors work in notoriously low information environments. This is typically the earliest external capital that a startup takes, after all, and founders often don’t know what information to disclose or how to package it into a tidy narrative. “There have been so many founder meetings I’ve had where it felt like pulling teeth,” Alex says, “where founders give me just enough to answer my question and nothing more. I mean – should I be going into these meetings with a detailed list of questions to answer? Should I learn to ask more leading and open-ended questions?”
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this, or to many of the other decisions that angel investors face. And while a protracted back and forth with founders is technically possible, angel investors do face a serious case of analysis paralysis – the self-sabotaging procrastination to pull the proverbial trigger (and to write the cheque) for fear of making the wrong choice.