Disruptive Angels: Changing the Investor Game

Patched-up Piggy Bank

Haig Kayserian, founder of KAYWEB Angels and John Buckman, the general manager, consider themselves disruptive angels because they created a NYC seed investment startup company unlike other VC firms; it provides technical development and mentorship to startups in exchange for equity. Since creating the firm in February 2011, he has invested in six companies, taking stakes between 15 to 45 percent.

“We felt there was a gap in the entrepreneurial space; there were a lot of incubators out there but you needed a tech co-founder to be part of them,” he explained. “There were angel investors out there and they were getting a lot of deals and being very busy. There were venture capitalists all looking for deals where some sort of a product was available. But we felt that there was nothing servicing that space where, if an entrepreneur had a really good idea but didn’t have the technology background or partner to create and develop it, there was nothing for that person. And we had those resources. So we said, ‘Why don’t we provide these resources and invest?’”

Haig Kayserian, founder of KAYWEB Angels and John Buckman, the general manager
Haig Kayserian, founder of KAYWEB Angels and John Buckman, the general manager

About 10 years ago out of college he started working as a journalist and realized it wasn’t stimulating enough to work for somebody else. “I wanted to own — so after eight months, I sold my sports website. So I started KAYWEB in NYC because I feel it is the prime entrepreneurial hub of the world.”

Asked about his most game-changing investment, he said that he doesn’t invest in non-game changers. “All six of our current investments deserve praise at the same level. To be honest, they’re all targeting a new niche market, so they are game-changers in their own rights. “For instance, Cafrino is revolutionizing online poker. Do It In Person is taking events to a level that has never been gone to before. WhoisGreen.com is bringing sustainable businesses together and advertising them to consumers in a way that’s never been done before. MinuteListIt is allowing eBay power sellers to list online using their mobile phones – it’s amazing. You Need My Guy, well, I want to say as little about this as possible– but every person here will definitely be using it.”

Buckman said he loves the idea of providing to entrepreneurs a technical co-founder, provides the programming and coding needed to build a mobile app or website where so few exist in the City today. “I consider myself an entrepreneur,” he said. “I left a large law firm in 2004 to start my own business. I did that at great risk – jumped into something on my own without the security of insurance or a regular paycheck, just the entrepreneurial spirit.

Asked what the strangest thing he has ever done, Buckman said that it happened on his daughter’s birthday. “Somehow my daughter convinced me to use the single word ‘birthday’ in every sentence that I used in one day. That was weird because I deal with a lot of professional people. I had to preface it when I was in a professional setting, to let them know it was coming at some point — I didn’t want to seem like an idiot.”

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