Calling All Angels: Apply to the 10th Cohort of First Round’s Angel Track Program

By: Brett Berson

It was exactly this time of year back in 2018 when the First Round team was huddled together, gearing up to launch a new experiment. The ambitious goal was to enable the next generation of angel investors to level up, build new relationships and increase their odds of success as investors. But the future impact was still unclear — not all experiments take off, of course.

After assembling the inaugural cohort of this nascent program, we were off to the races. Now, four years on, we’re taking stock of all the strides that Angel Track has made since — and looking forward to all of the runway that’s still ahead.

We started with just 16 members, and now after nine cohorts, 275 alumni have gone through the program. We began by holding in-person sessions in our San Francisco and New York offices — now we’ve expanded nationwide and re-tooled our efforts to be remote-first.

And while we expected big things from bringing together the highest-caliber operators in tech, it’s fair to say that we didn’t anticipate all that the folks in this community would do — whether it’s running incredible companies (like Loyal, Superhuman, and Kandji), joining top startups (like Loom, Figma, and Webflow), stepping into new roles (like Parag Agrawal becoming CEO of Twitter), raising their own funds (like Sahil Lavingia, Rahul Vohra, and Li Jin did) or making the leap to full-time investing (like how David Haber, Sriram Krishnan, Justin Overdorff, and Meka Asonye joined Andreessen Horowitz, Lightspeed and First Round as partners).

While in the past we’ve spotlighted changes to the program or the many distinguished new members joining the ranks of our alumni, as we kick off applications for the 10th cohort of Angel Track this spring, we thought we’d take a different approach.

After so many iterations to look back on and data points to draw from, it’s clear to us that the secret sauce that makes this program so special is equal parts curriculum and community. Read on for a behind-the-scenes peek into both below.

Curriculum: Build the knowledge you need to become a stronger angel investor

Given our goals to demystify the art of angel investing and help aspiring investors be more than a check, curriculum has always been a core component of the Angel Track program.

For every cohort, we’ve tapped seasoned angels and investors (from both First Round and outside funds) to share their expert advice and lead targeted sessions. In the past, we’ve been fortunate to welcome folks like Michael Seibel, Alfred Lin, Ann Miura-Ko, Annie Duke, Elad Gil, Daniel Gross, Keith Rabois and Rebecca Kaden.

(For the Spring 2022 cohort, we’re excited to share that Benchmark’s Chetan Puttagunta, Kleiner Perkins’ Ilya Fushman, Index Ventures’ Mark Goldberg, and Union Square Ventures’ Albert Wenger are already locked in, with many more to come.)

But last year, we expanded on this expert-driven approach, adding a newly overhauled curriculum that incorporated feedback from previous cohort members to address what angels really need to know in today’s dynamic market.

With structured exercises, detailed question sets, and illustrative case studies on companies like Uber, Roblox, and Square from our own 15 years of ‘Day 0’ investing experience at First Round, our new-and-improved curriculum dives deep into the following areas:

  • Sourcing opportunities: From preparing for inbound and getting the most out of your existing network, to building your brand and proactively reaching out to others, we share tried-and-true techniques for amplifying your ability to surface companies to invest in.
  • Evaluating startups: We share tons of detailed frameworks for assessing founders, markets and products. As a small sampling, check out this preview of the lessons our very own Todd Jackson covers in the evaluating products section of Angel Track.
  • Supporting founders: “The best way to get access, and thus accelerate your angel investing career, is to become a person founders want to have on their cap table.” This is one of many lessons that Lenny Rachitsky recently captured in a post detailing what he’s learned after investing in over 140 companies. As Lenny (and many other Angel Track alums) detail in this post, becoming a founder’s most valuable angel investor is critical to both increasing the odds of success for the company and improving the quality of your own deal flow.
  • Structuring your portfolio: From thinking about follow-ons, pro-rata, and carve outs, to sharpening your understanding of ‘Cap table 101’ lessons and the many personal finance implications to consider, this is incredibly detailed advice that is hard to come by when you’re just getting started.

Snippet of some of the advice we share in Angel Track. Read more about this particular insight (and get tons of others from Angel Track alumni) in Lenny Rachitsky’s great post on lessons from angel investing.

Community: Increase your deal flow and deepen your relationships in the startup world

While Angel Track packs plenty of insights and learning time into just a two-month-long course, the program itself is the beginning, not the end of the journey. Particularly in the solo-sport of angel investing, the chance to build deep and authentic relationships with fellow members is a core part of what makes this program so unique.

Whether it’s our follow-on special “elective” sessions, the steady sharing of investment opportunities, or co-investing in countless companies, we’ve found that Angel Track alumni stay in touch long after their cohorts have wrapped. (Two members even went so far as to get engaged. 😊 )

There’s also the added benefit of the chance to increase your deal flow by cementing strong connections with other active investors. From holding Demo Days, to building new tools like the Angel Track Common Application, we’re constantly on the hunt for new ways to surface singular opportunities and enable the cross-community collaboration that makes this program stand out.

Join these ranks: Apply to Angel Track today

If you’re eager to experience these benefits firsthand and supercharge your own angel investing career, we’re delighted to share that we’re opening up applications for the Spring 2022 cohort of Angel Track — our 10th round of running the program!

You can read more about the program here, or go straight to the application to tell us a bit more about yourself. Applications close on February 20th at 5 PM PST. (We’ll be accepting applications on a rolling basis before then.)

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