I’m not a financial advisor; nothing I write in Superpowers for Good should be considered investment advice. You should seek appropriate counsel before making investment decisions.
Devin: What do you see as your superpower?
Brian: I think my long-term thinking mindset is perhaps my superpower.
Brian Belley, today’s guest, has made over 200 angel investments in companies via crowdfunding sites, including an investment in The Super Crowd, Inc., a public benefit corporation, the company I started. He agreed to join me to talk about his insights as an investor. He is also the VP of Product at KingsCrowd.
He highlights the value of starting small in crowdfunding. “One of the great things and opportunities of this industry is that you don't have to start big and write a big check. You can start really small and learn along the way.” You can refine and improve your investment process with practice.
One of the tools Brian uses is KingsCrowd’s ratings for offerings. Those are available to paying subscribers only, but much of the information you need to make your own evaluation is available to you right on the offering page on the portal. Typically, you can find the available deal terms, financial statements, management team information and much more right there.
Many investors, Brian notes, develop an investment strategy that includes social or environmental impact. For his own investing, Brian prioritizes financial returns but loves to find companies that also provide social impact.
He hit on a key topic, which is the deal terms, including valuation. A great company can offer bad terms–a valuation that is too high for instance. It literally pays to pay attention to the details. He is also careful to build a diverse portfolio, including publicly traded stocks and ETFs, in addition to his crowdfunding investments.
Brian sees a key part of his investment strategy as his superpower: long-term thinking.
AI Episode Summary
Devin Thorpe introduces Brian Belley, Vice President at KingsCrowd, an angel investor who has made over 200 investments via crowdfunding portals.
Brian shares the story of CrowdWise, his startup that provided educational tools and services for new investors in the crowdfunding industry and was later acquired by KingsCrowd.
Brian discusses his investment process, which involves screening and evaluating deals based on factors such as price, potential market, team evaluation, and deal terms.
He emphasizes the importance of building a diversified portfolio and considering both financial and impact factors when selecting investments.
Brian explains that he occasionally includes debt deals in his portfolio to diversify his assets and offers insights into the current dynamics of the debt deal market.
Devin highlights Brian's superpower of thinking long-term and making trade-offs that may seem like sacrifices in the short term but benefit him in the long run.
Brian suggests that slowing down, reflecting, and aligning one's compass with long-term goals can lead to greater impact and success.
He advises setting annual goals, maintaining balance in various areas of life, and periodically reflecting and making course corrections if necessary.
Brian mentions that people can connect with him on LinkedIn and learn more about KingsCrowd at kingscrowd.com and about the Crowdfunding Professional Association at cfpa.org.
The episode concludes with Devin Thorpe expressing gratitude and wishing Brian success in his investing and work at KingsCrowd.
How to Develop Long-Term Thinking As a Superpower
Brian shared an anecdote to demonstrate how fundamental his long-term thinking is to his nature:
When I was seven years old, and this honestly went on for a few years, most kids around that age, right, you're asking for toys or skateboards, stuff to be outside, play with your friends, that type of thing. I actually asked for several Christmas and birthdays in a row to receive savings bonds. That's all I wanted from my family, from my friends, was to give me savings bonds for every holiday, every birthday.
Now, he’s investing with a long-term vision in startups–like mine.
He offered some tips for developing your own long-term thinking.
He notes that direction is key. On a cross-country flight from San Francisco, the difference of a few degrees can be the difference between landing in Atlanta or New York City. This requires careful upfront attention to the direction you set. Invest in yourself as you begin your investment journey. “Really small course adjustments can have an outsized impact over time.”
With that as context, he notes that it is okay to slow down. “That stereotypical person in their office with the feet up on the desk might look like they're slacking off. But sometimes that's where the creativity is, it's where the good ideas are, it's where you can find your meaning.”
By following Brian’s advice and example, you can become a better investor, perhaps even developing a superpower that enables you to do more good in the world.
Brian Belley (he/him):
Vice President of Product, KingsCrowd
About KingsCrowd: KingsCrowd is a data-driven ratings and analytics platform powering all decisions made in the online private markets. Their mission is to assist investors in finding, researching, and tracking promising startup and small business investment opportunities online.
Twitter Handle: @kingscrowdinc
Company Facebook Page: fb.com/KINGSCROWDTECH/
Biographical Information: An Aerospace engineer by training, Brian is an active angel investor, having invested in over 200 startups. Brian is the Founder of Crowdwise and VentureWallet, acquired by KingsCrowd in 2021. He is now the Vice President of Product at KingsCrowd, helping startup investors make more informed investment decisions. Brian also serves on the Board of Directors for the Crowdfunding Professional Association and is an advisor to numerous startups, including a funding portal that focuses exclusively on space startups, Spaced Ventures.
Twitter Handle: @brianbelley
Personal Facebook Profile: fb.com/brianjbelley/
For the September SuperCrowdHour, I’m going to share some of the lessons I’ve learned from making dozens of crowdfunding investments and talking to hundreds of entrepreneurs and investors. You’ll learn not just how to make investments via crowdfunding but how to make money doing it.
Many impact crowdfunding investors focus on impact first. I admire the approach but note that a goal for maximizing impact is best accomplished by making money. It works two ways. A company that goes out of business has no impact after it dies. One that grows profitably can do unlimited amounts of good. Furthermore, if the investment delivers financial results to you, you can reinvest and do more good as an investor!
If you’re focused primarily on making money, you’ll find this session helpful, too. We’ll discuss maximizing financial returns. Don’t miss it!