Here’s How to Bring Big Ideas to Life

If you're an emerging company with the next great product, sometimes you need an angel on your side.

A study by the University of New Hampshire's Center for Venture Research showed that "angel investors" - high-net-worth individuals willing to invest in entrepreneurial companies at an early stage - shelled out more than $18 billion into early-stage companies last year alone, compared to $304 million by venture capitalists.

Finding an angel investor, however, is not an easy task. Safer Smokes Inc. is one company that understands the challenge of attracting the right investors.

This development-stage company is tapping the smoking cessation market with a unique tobacco-free, nicotine-free smoke called Bravo, which has the appearance of a traditional cigarette and burns like tobacco but is actually made from lettuce fibers.

"Bravo lets you smoke your way out of the tobacco habit gradually," said Puzant C. Torigian, chief executive officer of Safer Smokes.

For companies like Safer Smokes, it may be too soon to approach large venture capital firms, yet time to move beyond networking with family and friends. Angel investors to the rescue.

"The challenge for raising capital in today's market is in harnessing the courage and vision of the angel to see through to the real investment opportunity," said Torigian.

How do companies like Safer Smokes attract their angel?

* Have a clear-cut target market for your product or service. For example, Safer Smokes is targeting the smoking cessation market, which has sales approaching $10 billion per year, up from $6 billion just three years ago.

* Most angel investors prefer companies that are likely to show positive cash flow within their first 18 months, so having these kinds of statistics about your market can be an incentive.

* Match the business plan objectives to the angel's risk tolerance. Investors want to know the product or service will be unique and well-cultivated. Safer Smokes has a patented solution that company officials say will "affect the landscape of the health care industry."

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