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Angel Investors 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 early-stage entrepreneurial companies – poured more than $18 billion into early-stage companies last year alone, compared to $304 million from venture capitalists.

But finding angel investors is no easy task. Safer Smokes Inc. is one company that understands the challenge of attracting the right investors.

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

“Bravo allows you to gradually kick the tobacco habit,” said Puzant C. Torigian, CEO of Safer Smokes.

It may be too early for companies like Safer Smokes to approach large venture capital firms, but it’s time to move beyond networking with family and friends. Angel investors are coming to the rescue.

“The challenge of raising capital in today’s market is to use the courage and vision of angels to see the real investment opportunity,” Torigian said.

So how do companies like Safer Smokes attract angels?

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

Most angel investors favor companies that are likely to show positive cash flow within the first 18 months, so having such statistics about your market can be encouraging.

* Match business plan goals with the angel’s risk tolerance. Investors want to know that the product or service will be unique and well-bred. Safer Smokes has a patented solution that company officials say will “impact the landscape of the healthcare industry.”