Duane Roberts was a deal lead for the 4Q2021 applicant Young Mountain Tea. Please see his thoughts below after the deal memo was completed.
I began the process questioning if I was qualified to act as deal lead. Materials on the SWAN website gave me a good sense of the process. Bob Bridge provided sage advice, help and encouragement, and it was reassuring to know he was always available for questions. Steve Maysonave was part of the deal memo team and also served as a mentor. As a new angel investor, I learned much from Bob and Steve, and also from other members of the deal memo team. Being Deal Lead meant I observed the development of each section in the deal memo, constantly learning across all facets of the due diligence process. This will undoubtedly improve my decision making for future angel investing opportunities. I also learned quite a bit about tea.
Good Way to Get to Know Other SWAN Members
Working on the deal memo allowed me to get better acquainted with eight other SWAN members. Joining SWAN during a pandemic, plus being an introvert, has limited my ability to get to know other members. I enjoyed working with the team. I look forward to in-person events and being able to meet in-person the seven deal team members I have only met via Zoom.
Reasonable Time Commitment
While the elapsed time to complete the deal memo was long (over two months, including the holidays when progress unsurprisingly slowed), the time commitment was not excessive. There were brief periods that required more time, but always manageable and usually with enough forewarning and flexibility to easily fold into a busy schedule.
Deal Memo Team Was Strong
The SWAN members who made up the team provided a range of backgrounds and experience. A couple of team members were experienced and that was very helpful. But others were relatively new to the SWAN due diligence process, with a few (including me) who were first time in their roles (maybe had previously worked on deal memos in other roles). The range of professional backgrounds was beneficial. The team was willing to jump in and learn when necessary to address parts of the due diligence research where prior knowledge was not adequate. I was impressed with some of the unexpected paths that the team pursued during the process.
Working with Young Mountain Tea was a Pleasure
Raj and the full YMT team were a pleasure to work with. They were very responsive and never pushed back on any request we made of them. They viewed our more challenging questions or data requests as opportunities to think about their business in new ways.
It can sometimes be difficult to coordinate the schedules for nine volunteers who have other commitments.
Imperfect Information and Uncertainty
Early stage companies have limited resources and uncertain futures. During the due diligence it was occasionally necessary to recognize that further questions and research had low marginal utility.