The Approach: Spotlight on Golden Angels Investors

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Mary Hannes (Golden Angels Investors) headshot

Mary Hannes

Associate Director,
Golden Angel Investors
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Golden Angels Investors


Type of Firm: Angel Group

Geographic Focus: Wisconsin

Sector Focus: Heathcare, hi-tech, fintech, edtech, B2B technology/services

Financing Stage: Seed

Average Investment: $250-400K

Target Return/Horizon: 10X in 5-10 years.

Contact Info: Mary Hannes, Associate Director –

How/why did you get into investing? What is the most exciting/rewarding part for you? 

My husband and I joined Golden Angels as investors ~8 years ago to learn more about venture investing, make connections and do a small part to help a company succeed. Now that I am the Associate Director of the group, the most rewarding part is talking to founders about their passions and how our group might be able to help.

Give us a brief overview of your firm and your investment strategy.

We were founded in 2002 and are now a network of ~100 investors. As opportunities arise, investors consider each one on its own merits and make an investment decision. We then pool the interest across investors to invest as a single entity. Our approach is to partner with the founder to bring not only our financial resources but also the domain expertise of our investors (and 60 advisors) to help the company succeed. We invest primarily in B2B services and technologies across a range of industries.

At what point should entrepreneurs be when they first contact you?

When a company is raising their seed round is primarily when we have contact, however we also engage prior to that point and offer input on company development, networking with other investors and contacts, and investment strategy.

Describe the ideal first interaction scenario you have with an entrepreneur.

We want to hear about the founder(s) and how they embarked on this path and what they are looking for in an investment partner. We will also want to understand the problem that is being solved, the solution, the market and competition.

If there is continued interest, what happens next? 

The first step into our process is through one of our investment committees (Tech or Healthcare) where we’ll have the company pitch to a subset of our investors, and we can gauge initial interest. If there is interest, that typically results in some follow up investigation and then we’ll decide if we should bring the opportunity to our full membership for consideration.

How do you determine the value of the businesses you invest in?

We look at value from a variety of perspectives including market opportunity, financials/business model, execution risk and leadership.

Beside money, what else do you bring to the table for the companies you invest in?

Our network of investors and advisors is broad and deep allowing us to bring industry and functional expertise to the table in terms of advice, counsel, problem solving, and board membership.

In what ways do entrepreneurs often fall short when asking for money?

We see companies fall short of conveying a compelling story that demonstrates their understanding of the market problem and the unique way they solve it that serves as the rationale for the raise. Also, we oftentimes see companies that are perhaps not raising enough money to provide appropriate runway and resources to achieve their milestones.

What else do you want companies that are seeking funds to know? 

Finding the right investor is akin to finding a spouse/partner – we’re in this for the long term and it is wise for both parties to feel comfortable that it will be a fruitful relationship.

What is one wish you have for the Wisconsin entrepreneurship ecosystem?

That participants in the ecosystem continue to make connections amongst one another as those connections can unlock a tremendous amount of potential.