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Handbook of Research on Venture Capital

Edited by Hans Landström

This Handbook provides an excellent overview of our knowledge on the various facets of managerial venture capital research. The book opens with a thorough survey of venture capital as a research field; conceptual, theoretical and geographic aspects are explored, and its pioneers revisited. The focus then shifts to the specific environs of venture capital.
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Chapter 12: Business Angel Research: The Road Traveled and the Journey Ahead

Peter Kelly


Peter Kelly An enduring phenomenon It’s [informal venture capital] not a new phenomenon, of course. Henry Ford’s auto empire was launched thanks to five [business] angels who plunked down $40,000 in 1903. (Conlin, 1989, p. 32) Can you imagine what it must have been like for Henry Ford to find backers for his entrepreneurial dream more than a century ago? Finding an individual with cash to invest, expertise to share and who is not related to you, a business angel in accepted parlance of today, must have been a severe challenge for him. What is particularly striking is that if Henry asked a business angel researcher where to find backers, our suggestions would be little different than today. Tap into your own network of contacts for leads. Look around your neighborhood for people that live in large houses or, in his day, those who owned a telephone. His search would have probably been confined geographically as he was proposing to create a mass-market transportation revolution. Once located, the deal would be consummated in a wood paneled room in private. Fast forward 100 years. In today’s world of modern communications, Henry could conduct a google search on the terms ‘business angel’ and ‘business angel network’ which would produce 45 million and 20 million hits respectively. For perspective, he could pick up a copy of a growing number of popular books about business angels (Benjamin and Margulis, 1996; 2005; Coveney and Moore, 1998; van Osnabrugge and Robinson, 2000; Amis...

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