Episode Summary

Ellen Chang is an experienced defense innovation professional working in areas from aerospace to informatics. She has over 25 years of experience in strategy, business and product development, and systems engineering in the technology and aerospace industries.

She used to work in the Navy, then eventually left at her mid-career to pursue a business degree and later joined JP Morgan where she was part of the client management team during the exciting dot.com period where she was able to explore and facilitate investment in start-ups.

In 2002, she joined Northrop Grumman but left in 2015 then co-founded Lightspeed Innovations, which is an accelerator for startup and early stage companies in the technology field in aerospace, addressing New Space, unmanned/Robotics, autonomy, big data/analytics and cyber security.

She is also chair of the Wharton Alumni Angel Network Southern California Chapter. They fosters an entrepreneurial community backed by the strength of the Penn and Wharton alumni network. They help members and entrepreneurs develop,build relationships around investment opportunities, learn about angel investing and discover the tools needed to become a better investor and also connect with exceptional mentors.

In this episode, Ellen shares how an angel investor look into the opportunities technology related investments. She will also give an insight on the red flags to consider in venturing to tech companies.

What We Covered

  • 03:00 – Ellen walks us through how she got from a very technical career to where she is today imparting her wisdom onto entrepreneur as an angel investor.
  • 04:00 – How does Lightspeed Innovation work as a business accelerator?
  • 04:57 – Ellen shares that Lightspeed Innovators helps aerospace start ups using commercial technologies and make the start up cost lower down to a no longer a $50 million cost.
  • 06:47 – Do you think by going to accelerators, angels become more open to looking to start up cycles through the help of an accelerator?
  • 07:53 – What are the other success factors you’ve seen over the years, with Lightspeed as an accelerator?
  • 09:21 – How did mentors helped and been part of your success as a woman in the technology field and as an angel investor?
  • 11:21 – How does Wharton Alumni Angels start?
  • 12:59 – How do Angel investor provide connection to those start-ups in the local community to meet larger communities?
  • 13:25 – When I see a company strapping a little bit more but possibly able to exit without doing many venture rounds I am kinda happy because I am less diluted and possibly make out better. It’s those trade offs that one has to think about.”
  • 14:10 – What types of companies are beats the traditional startup setup?
  • 16:54 – How do you select, connect and qualify the startup that you will invest in?
  • 18:21 – How do Light Speed Innovation select the astropreneurs startup they will help?
  • 19:05 – How much time do you spend managing your investment companies?
  • 20:47 – What is it about your investment theses that you feel strongly about?
  • 22:00 – Ellen shares the red flags she considers that makes you not invest in a business.
  • 24:50 – Any advice you can give to start-ups as an angel investor in the technology space, going after NIH: SBIR and STTR grants first before going angel route option?
  • 32:37 – Sylvia shares that as an angel investor it is important to know your industry pipeline.
  • 35:03 – Tell us something about Wharton Alumni Angel Network.What are the benefits and added pros of being a member?
  • 38:14 – Who are Angel Syndication Network? What do they do?
  • 41:24 – Final Four Rapid Fire Questions
  • 44:18 – Sylvia’s episode recap


Links Mentioned

Hera Fund Angels
Hera Labs
Lightspeed Innovations
Wharton Angels
Urban translations Southern California
Innovation Pavillion
NIH:SBIR and STTR Funding
Propel X
Angels Syndication Network

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