Review of the book Angel by Jason Calacanis

I just finished reading and listening to Angel: How to Invest in Technology Startups, a book by Jason Calacanis.  I first mentioned Jason on this blog back in 2009, when I wrote "starting is easy; finishing is hard." Fast forward 8 years.

First Thoughts

First, let me say, this is a great book. I'm now going back, highlighting sections, and ready to put what I have read to work. I also recommend downloading the Audible version. It's read by Jason and has some extras at the end (not in the physical book).

So many other books are all hype, promising everyone that they can do anything. They promise you fame and fortune, resulting in readers changing their profiles to read "Hustler, Grinder, and Lifestyle Coach". I love that Jason didn't say everyone can be an angel investor.

Actually, he did but there were some clear caveats. If you want to be an effective angel investor, you'll need a combination of things and Jason details what they are (see chapter 4).

Though you might not meet all of Jason's criteria to be an effective angel investor, I still think you should read (and listen to) this book if you're a founder or thinking of getting into angel investing.


  1. Jason was specific about what you need to do, to be an effective angel investor.  Right away, you'll realize if you can or can not do this.  Sorry to all of those precious snowflakes out there who think they can do anything.  If you don't have the money or stomach for high risk, you can't do this.
  2. At $1000-$2500 for each of your first 10 investments, if you don't have the money, you can't afford to be an angel investor.
  3. If you can't deploy even greater amounts of money, in the event one of your startups gets a Series A from a known venture capital firm, you'll get diluted. (do a search on Pro Rata)
  4. If you're unwilling to move to Silicon Valley, your deal flow may be limited. (I like my home in Maryland)
  5. You have less than a 1% chance of being successful. (The truth hurts)

I just exchanged Twitter DM's with Jason.  He wanted to note that he did talk about being an angel with no money (advisor shares!).  I want to make sure I properly represent the book so I'm adding this blog post edit.  Also, I plan to write other blog posts about the book.


  1. Jason was specific about what you need to do, to be an effective angel investor.  Right away, you'll realize if you can or can not do this.  Note I'm listing this as both a Pro and a Con.
  2. He describes probably the safest path you can take if you're going to get into angel investing.  Granted, you still have less than a 1% chance of being successful.
  3. Jason speaks and writes from the heart. He sounds like a kid from Brooklyn.  He actually reads the Audible version of his book.  I've been listening to him since the beginning of his This Week in Startups (TWIST) podcast. It was good to hear his voice and not some voice actor.
  4. He has an impressive track record in angel investing so he's not like these knuckleheads you see out there trying to be "lifestyle advisors".
  5. "You only have to be right once" ~Mark Cuban

Now, it's time to put in the work.


Disclaimer: I was in no way compensated for the writing of this review.

Agile Baltimore Meetup | April 14th, 2017

Another great meetup! This month, topics we discussed:

  • Half-breed implementations where no business was included.
  • Heuristics for determining a good user story
  • Incorporating project managers in Scrum'ish Agile
  • Program vs Project Scrum implementation
  • LeSS vs SAFe

Link to Agile Baltimore Facebook Page Link to Meetup Group Page

Check out the image gallery!

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Agile Baltimore Meetup | March 3rd, 2017

After hosting Lean Coffee's every month for the last three years, I figured I would share some photos and stories. Though I have a Facebook Page and Meetup Page, my blog gets the most traffic. So, I'll try to post about the event here going forward and then link to the other sites. On March 3rd, we had our monthly meetup at Mad City Coffee.  Check out the image gallery![srizonfbalbum id=1]

Why Anchor is Sinking

What is Anchor

When I was first introduced to, I was really excited. It sounded like a really frictionless way to get ideas out into the wild and then get verbal "comments" back from listeners.  If you're not using it, Anchor saves WAV files for playback by others, linking them together into kind of a back and forth conversation.  They describe the experience as

Anchor is a free iPhone app that makes it easy to broadcast short audio clips to a global audience in seconds. Your listeners can talk back, sparking instant group conversations that were never before possible. When not recording, listen to authentic humor, knowledge, inspiration, and debate from Anchor’s global collective of personality.

Here is the reality

You record up to 2 minutes of audio.  You then tag it for others to discover.  Let's say you hear 2 minutes of audio from someone on the platform.  You can respond. They can respond, and so on and so on.  What really happens is you hear a lot of bla-bla-bla from a lot of other people.  Unlike YouTube or a blog post, where you can skim the comments, you need to listen to some seriously boring stuff!  You think reading comments from some people is bad, imagine listening to these people commenting.  If you've ever been to a conference and during the Q/A session you realize they gave the wrong guy or gal the microphone, this is it.  You want to yell at them to take it away or to just shut up but nothing is going to work. Even worse, the doors are locked and you just need to wait them out.

What's missing

I was watching a snap (Snapchat) from Dan Norris. He's a guy out of Australia who I follow on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. He's just a genuine guy who I enjoy listening to.  Well, today on Snapchat he basically described a similar painpoint with Anchor.  I don't remember specifically what he said, but I remember having an ah-ha moment of similar issues.

In a world where I'm telling people to stop multitasking and to focus on one thing at a time, that's something I do not want out of Anchor. I want to multitask. I want to browse. I want to not listen to other people who are commenting.

Also, I don't like being tagged by someone who is merely trying to pull me into a conversation.  That's like having a telemarketer call my mobile.  Imagine how pissed off you feel when that happens.  Well, that's how it feels in Anchor.

Time will tell

I understand that Anchor is a young product. Being my time is precious to me, I don't want to listen to that guy or gal who grabbed the mic. I want to filter all of that out. I want to do something like go to Dan's website and click on an Anchor link.  I want to hear what Dan wants to say and then "fast forward" past some of the comments.  Do that and I think Anchor can be a viable platform.  Don't do that, and it's a noisy noisy place I will let sink.

Have you used Anchor? If so, what are your thoughts about the platform?


Solve Problems

What we do

As we do our day to day work, I think we can get lost. We get our heads so wrapped around the sales process and selling solutions, we forget why we're working with a client in the first place.  I've been told if the only tool I have is a hammer, everything starts looking like a nail.  It's true!

What we should do

Solve Problems

We're here to help the customer solve their problems.  Focus on the problems. Understand why they have these problems. From there, identify what will help them solve their problem.