Alan Matthew has, by his own count, invested in 14 companies in Chicago during 2012. He's a mostly lone-wolf angel investor who hasn't shacked up with a group like the Hyde Park, Cornerstone, or Wildcat angels. A commodities trader for decades, he's got an independent take on the companies and entrepreneurs he likes. We talked with approach to investing, his current theses, and what he learned about angel investing from shaman ceremonies in the Amazon.
Start-up culture -- this idea that you want to start a company before or simultaneously with having an idea for a company -- is a weird thing, and Matthew approaches it with appropriate skepticism.
"I haven't been immersed in the startup world all that long. I think start-up is almost a new phrase," he began. "I watched people at the Exchange start companies and nobody said, 'We're going to do a startup,' they just started companies."
Nonetheless, young entrepreneurs are catching on to what calling yourself a startup can do for your investment prospects.
"There are some young kids who don't have IP and imagine that their company is worth five and 10 million dollars. It's literally morphed into that within a year or two," Matthew told me. "Two years ago, they imagined their company was a million or million and half. The more money that they get, their imagination goes to the upside."