Galen Udell
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Galen Udell

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Executive Director York Angel Investors

What’s the Most Important Talent? Galen Udell, York Angels

“Whether it be your own employees, whether it be to your stakeholders — communications is super important”

ABOUT

As the Executive Director of YAI, Galen is focused on creating lasting value for our four stakeholders: our members, our partners, our ecosystem members and the amazing startups we encounter on a daily basis. Galen brings a highly diversified view to York Angel Investors (YAI). After a highly successful 25+ years with IBM Canada, IBM Corp (US), and Belden in the areas of new business development, marketing, and sales, Galen retired to start a second career as an entrepreneur, mentor and angel investor. In 2015, Galen founded Bark ‘n Yapp, a marketplace start-up that connects dog lovers to the businesses that love dogs. He also runs Novate Technologies, a consulting practice that assists startups with the development and execution of their go-to-market strategy.

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THE FULL INTERVIEW

Galen Udell

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery:
Welcome to the supporters fund Ask an Angel, and today we’re very excited to have a gentleman that has been working through the angel system over the last couple of years. I got to meet him probably… I’m gonna say three years ago. And in that time Galen supported us through our events at OPN and he has also worked through a startup that he had and now he is heading up the York Angels, a group. So a lot of transformation, a lot of great things. So I’m excited today to be sitting down and having a chat with you. We’re on a roll today, this is our third interview in total so far, Galen we’re continuing to roll these out and bring a little bit more face time to all of the people in the ecosystem, especially the angels. So thank you for joining and let’s jump right into it. So first question, why do you invest in startups? What interested you in it?

Galen:
why do I invest in startups? I think the major thing for me is the fact of working with really intelligent entrepreneurs that are excited and really trying to push a great idea. Not having kids myself, this almost kind of gives me the ability to mentor and take on working with a lot of younger folks without having that baggage of having to embrace them. You know she gets them at the good point where they really want to do something. And I think it’s the excitement working with those folks but also seeing new technology, seeing what’s coming down the pipe. I’ve always in my career been involved in trying to look as I say what kind of look around corners right, and see what’s coming next. And so working with the startup community and working with companies gives me that opportunity to see what neat and different ideas are, you know, people are working on that are possibly going to be hitting us in two or three years from now.

Jeffery:
Okay great! and that’s some great insight into you know everybody wants to follow the innovation so that’s good to get in at the ground level, to meet and learn more from the young launch foreigners that are coming through young and old. How did you get started investing, what was your first investment or what was the thing that really got to really gung ho about this and why jumped into it?

Galen:
The biggest reason that I jumped into investing in startups was the fact that I created my own startup and so I had left the corporate career and jumped into the startup world. It’s something I’d always wanted to do, it had been imprinted on me from my family where I had seen that happen. Where my parents at later stage and left their corporate lives and and then create a start-up in their early 50’s that became a very successful software company in Canada. So, you know, to me it was imprinted to come and take that entrepreneurial route out of corporate and I started to see that some challenges around getting the funding. I saw there were some gaps in trying to get funding particularly as an older entrepreneur. There weren’t nearly as many programs that are available from the government so you really are relying on I’m trying to get investment. And then there was a little, I found myself that there was a little bit of a ageism that was going on. In that people were willing to take a chance on an unproven younger person than someone say who had a lot more experience from the older side. And so kind of bothered me and I said, you know what I need to understand more about this whole investment angle so I spent a lot of time sort of educating myself on the whole investment ecosystem, and how it all works. And the more I got in that rabbit hole, the more I actually thought I would much rather be doing this and doing the investing side and working within the investing ecosystem and starting to work with more startups than actually spending a lot of time on my own startup. And so it was really that kind of got me excited. And then and as you start spending time mentoring, and working with startups, and becoming an advisor and getting advisory shares or starting to put your own dollars behind them, that’s kind of where the excitement comes. It almost becomes a little bit like gambling in some ways, that you’re taking stakes into organizations and so you kind of get the bug once you get going on it.

Jeffery:
Oh a hundred percent! Once you start diving into, you start finding a little nuances and ways that you can help improve and guide, it’s pretty exciting space for sure. What is your favorite part of investing? You’ve been doing it a couple years now, so what is that one key piece that’s really opened everything up and you really get jazzed about?

Galen:
Sure. I think my favorite part of the investing is really spending time with the entrepreneurs. Whether it’s… Whether I’m making the investment or not. I think it’s the spending the time to mentor them, to help them through what problems they’re facing. Typically I’m gonna go to market guy. That’s my my background. So the reality is the majority of startups will fail because they actually can’t do go to market, they can’t get to the market properly, they can’t make those initial first sales or they start the initial first sales and can’t follow up with that and so I do like to spend a lot of time with founders going through their go to market and and understanding what they can do and and how they can push in different directions or how do they find different entries into the marketplace. And so that to me is what I enjoy the most – that’s my favorite part of it. It’s really just spending this time and there’s a lot of affirmation that comes from that. We all love our ego strokes and when you see somebody have some success in the marketplace and know you are part of those discussions with them to help them get there — it makes you feel great. So the there’s a lot to give back .

Jeffery:
I like that there’s really is about a lot of attention that you can put into the operational side and getting people their successes by teaching those go to market strategies. And you’re right, there’s like anything, there’s a lot of moving pieces in a start-up and finding that one that you’re good at that you can really help push through makes a big difference for that startup. On average how many investments do you look at doing per year?

Galen:
It will fluctuate. Again, I’m relatively new into this. I started off as an angel investor three years ago at York Angels. And so the first year I probably looked at twenty opportunities and didn’t make one investment my first year which was kind of what I was coached to do, is don’t come in with two feet. Look as many as you can but