From Under the Mattress

Everybody knows there’s money in Princeton. Some of it, because of the stock market decline, is probably hidden under a financial mattress. Now a real bed of course, but some kind of safe banking hideout that offers next to no interest.

I’ve said it before and will say it again: some of that money could well be invested in new businesses in the Princeton area. Risky? Maybe no more risky than Wall Street and at least you would have the pleasure of helping out an entrepreneur, improving the area economy, and enjoy the possibility of getting a real return on your investment.

Note that I am not any kind of financial expert and am making no claims therefore subject to no regulation.

But other people are thinking along the same lines. Einstein’s Alley, the advocacy group in Central New Jersey, has begun to encourage those interested in becoming angel investors in the next great company.

An angel, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article, “is a wealthy individual willing to invest in a company at its earlier stages in exchange for an ownership stake, often in the form of preferred stock or convertible debt.”

How wealthy? I think the current rules are, but don’t quote me, this is just to give an idea – an prospective angel needs an income of $250,000 OR a net worth of $1 million including your house. The rules might change to an income of $450k or a net worth $2.3 million not including your house.

What good does an angel do? Says Katherine Kish, co-executive director of Einstein’s Alley: “Angels are a powerful resource for entrepreneurs providing nearly 20 times the capital to new companies in the aggregate than venture capital firms do.”

An Einstein’s Alley seminar on May 4 covered the ins and outs on angel investing. It was hosted by Richard Woodbridge (an Einstein Alley board member and Fox Rothschild attorney) and it featured Jeffrey Nicholas (a Fox Rothschild colleague and founder of Delaware Crossing Investor Group).

Now here’s where I’m supposed to be careful. According to the lawyers, I have to say this in exactly these words: “Those interested in finding out more about angel investing, email or call 609-799-8898.” In other words, talk to Kish. But don’t put your mattress at the curb.

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