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Finding biz investments: A chat with angel investor Ian Lucey

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Angel investor Ian Lucey talks about his venture technology firm, the Lucey Fund, with Daniel Drolet, co-director of the Charleston Startup Grind chapter. (Photo/Thomas Heath)

“I’ve got the brains, you’ve got the looks. Let’s make lots of money.” So goes the song Opportunities, from the '80s electronic pop duo the Pet Shop Boys. These days, it takes a whole lot more than intelligence and beauty to make a startup successful. It can also take a lot of money. If an entrepreneur isn’t self-financed, it becomes necessary to connect with people willing to invest in his or her dream.

But how do you find investors for your business? The answer nowadays is often found in an Angel Investor.

With all the entrepreneurial events I attend, I’ve been hearing that term a lot lately, but I wasn’t quite sure what it meant. So I went to Wiki: “An angel investor is an affluent individual who provides capital for a business startup, usually in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity.”

They typically invest their own funds, unlike venture capitalists who manage the pooled money of others.

It was with that in mind that I attended the Charleston chapter of Startup Grind to hear Ian Lucey, an angel investor through his venture technology firm, the Lucey Fund.

In the past 3½ years alone, this Irishman and his team have invested in more than 70 new businesses. Their expertise, it seems, is in product and tech development. Daniel Drolet, co-director of Charleston’s Startup Grind chapter, led off the chat with some things he thought were cool from the Lucey Fund website.

“Lucey loves startups. We invest in entrepreneurs who understand their industry, but who have not done technology before ... Lucey takes the headache out of R&D ... We help startups happen.”

In a room full of eager entrepreneurs, those statements certainly had everyone’s ears standing up straight.

Here are some highlights from the chat with the very approachable Mr. Lucey:

What are the four top things he looks for in a company?

  1. Does the person really know their industry?
  2. Can they sell?
  3. Do they know the math? Meaning: Does the entrepreneur understand the finances of the business?
  4. Is this a nice person?

When asked about the last one, Ian shared one of his philosophies that life is too short to deal with difficult people. LOVE IT. I’m a firm believer in doing business with people you like.

Amount of their average investment?

Percentage of equity his company requests?
2% to 20% depending on the deal

How many companies does he consider each year?
Last year, Lucey reviewed more than 3,500 startups and invested in 80. This year they expect that number to be around 50.

How long does it take them to decide if they want to invest?
About a week.

Ian looks for a strong company founder and sets out to build a team around that person. As he related about one of his success stories: “It’s all about teaching people how to create a buzz around their business.”

Got the brains? Got the looks? Need lots of money? You might want to check out the Lucey Fund at

Thomas Heath, CLC, is a business coach, strategic adviser and founder of Thomas Heath Coaching. Got a question? Planning a great startup event? He loves to respond to our readers. Contact him at or on LinkedIn at Also read his column in each print edition of the Charleston Regional Business Journal.

Startup Roundup

An insider’s view into Charleston’s Startup community. Curated by Thomas Heath

As someone who advises startups and existing companies on the best ways to grow their businesses, I quite often get asked which entrepreneurial events around town are worth attending. It was with that in mind that we created Startup Roundup.

If you’re looking for one calendar to find the best startup, tech, digital and entrepreneurial happenings around the Holy City, then you’ve come to the right place. Here are my picks for the best events coming up:

One Million Cups
9-10 a.m. March 22, 29
Every Wednesday at 9 a.m., the Charleston community of One Million Cups gathers together to listen to a different entrepreneur present about their business. The floor is then open for brainstorming and constructive feedback on how to grow that company. It’s one of the coolest places in town to hear new startup ideas and make connections. The Harbor Entrepreneur Center, 1505 King St. Extension, North Charleston. Free. (Leave time to get there as the location can be tricky to find. Enter through Boomtown’s front door.)

North Charleston Business Expo
1-6 p.m. March 23
With up to 175 exhibitors, this is one of the larger business-focused events around town. I haven’t attended this expo in the past, but the list of organizations participating is definitely impressive (plus, it doesn’t cost anything to attend.) From 4:30-6 p.m., there’ll be a “networking” reception. The Business Expo should be a good place to discover resources for business growth, as well as make new connections. Charleston Area Convention Center, 5001 Coliseum Drive, North Charleston. Free. For more information visit:

Women Entrepreneurs’ Social — “Balancing Act”
6:30-8:30 p.m. March 23
Are you a “Girl Boss” looking for balance between your business and personal life? Then this gathering is for you. It’ll start out with a happy hour, light appetizers and mingling with other entrepreneurs, followed by a chat with Shiny Happy Human founder Gervase Kolmos and Hatch Tribe founder Hilary Johnson. They promise a lighthearted, real and raw chat about what it means to juggle work, life and everything in between. Launch Pad, 174 Meeting St., Suite 200, Charleston. $25. Register on Eventbrite:

Tech After 5
5:30-7:30pm. March 28
Taking place every fourth Tuesday of the month, this laid back event hosted by Phil Yanov is about connecting entrepreneurs and professionals who support the Charleston tech community. Many folks come to seek employees or employment, as well as make connections to help grow their tech startup. Bring a business card and your first beer is on them. Lagunitas Taproom, 161 East Bay St., Charleston. $10 (Free for tech professionals.) Register on Eventbrite:

Startup Grind
6-9 p.m. April 5
This monthly gathering is part of a global movement in more than 200 cities and 98 countries. The Charleston chapter is coordinated by Jeremy Berman, Daniel Drolet, Baird Hall and Mike Hartwell. These four gents put on a cool event that includes food, beer and a “fireside chat” with a really smart and successful entrepreneur. This meeting will feature an interview with Grier Allen, the culture-driven CEO of BoomTown, a software company that connects millions of homebuyers and sellers with its extensive network of real estate professionals. BoomTown, 1505 King St. Extension, North Charleston. $10, but use code CRBJ25 for 25% discount. Register:


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