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The Right Way to Woo Angels

Aspiring entrepreneurs usually want lots of guidance -- and plenty of cash. The lucky ones get both from "angel investors," who funnel $30 billion into new companies every year.

But how do you win the attention of a prominent angel? In their new book, Every Business Needs an Angel (Crown Business, $27.50), Washington (D.C.) angel investors John May and Cal Simmons share insight on how angels size up entrepreneurs. Their first concern: "We bet on the managers," says Simmons. "A good idea with a bad leader isn't going anywhere."

Simmons, 50, who has founded 12 companies over the past two decades, says to make sure your pitch carefully balances hype with realistic projections. Don't hide potential weaknesses -- your investors will find out sooner or later. And, he adds, "keep your ego in check," or you'll lose out on the angel's experience, input, and networks. Not much point in having angels, after all, if you don't let them watch over you.

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