Tick Jiang is an Entrepreneur in Residence at Wade Institute and a VC Catalyst alumna. As an active angel investor also building NUVC.ai, a platform to help investors make more data-informed decision-making in the screening process, Tick strives to connect and inspire a diverse range of founders.

Tick sat down with Garry Williams to discuss the role of AI in deal-making for angel investment and how NUVC.ai is helping investors refine this stage of the process to focus on what’s most important, their investment thesis.

GW: Tick – welcome! Let’s get started with a summary of what your world currently looks like with an investment focus.

TJ: A lot has changed since I participated in VC Catalyst in 2023, and it’s an entirely different world in terms of how I look at angel investing. Before, I was just an angel going deal by deal. But now, I’ve gotten to know many of the VCs and have continued to build the AI tool for VCs and angels to screen their deals – NUVC.ai

GW: Let’s talk about this AI focus. Can you break down what you enable via AI and, more specifically, in the investor use case?

TJ: At the end of VC Catalyst, my thesis was focused on AI and how we apply AI to portfolio management as individuals.

We found that the problem was at the early-stage investment level, particularly in accurate screening processes because there was always an overflow of deals as an individual or syndicate. Still, they were largely premature, and a lot of time was spent on meeting with founders to get to know the product.

So, I implemented a technology to pre-screen all deals before the meeting to become more efficient and find a way to meet five high-quality, qualified startups a week instead of thirty to fifty, which is unsustainable.

GW: Where did the problem become clear for you? As a founder or investor?

TJ: As an investor, I had experience spending a couple of months with one startup, and when it was time to send them my cheque, issues arose, and I wanted to see that process change and become much more efficient.

GW: I see. It sounds like a significant problem to solve from your lived experience. So, the path to investing, what was that process like?

TJ: I was always in property previously and was conservative on my investments. But we’d made some money in my previous company, and I was discussing diversifying my portfolio with a friend. A friend from the property funds sector became a famous angel investor in China and, via her investments, made a fortune. So, I became interested in that aspect of starting at an early stage and not needing a lot of cash, and then I began to help her find deals in Australia.

GW: Broadly speaking, what does your investment portfolio look like?

TJ: I was doing everything wrong in the past –all the mistakes any angel can make. My cheque size was starting very high, from $100K. I was also investing late: Pre-Series B, Series B and some pre-IPO, such as Epic Games.

I was investing in Data Privacy, PropTech, FinTech, etc. The problem with that is that it’s not angel investing, and it’s not the best use of my money. They were split across different risks, rewards and quartiles, and that’s not the right way to do it.

Now, as an angel investor, people approach me because I have a community of investors. I sit on the board for Seed Planet where I connect many startups to a network of Asian investors as per my motto ‘Connect and Inspire.

What draws them in is what I’m passionate about, which is closing the funding gap, be it for women founders, individuals from diverse groups, or within the context of new immigrants.

As an individual and as an investor, your IP is so important. So, it’s tied to what I’m passionate about and my understanding of how to commercialise AI, which is very important to many founders.

GW: What’s a method that you enjoy in terms of a founder captivating an investor audience with their story?

TJ: I think it’s good to have a surprising element in every good story by sharing and being very authentic. I like to share with people my tragic divorce or example, but that is about sharing that everyone has a downside in their life but showcasing the resilience to emerge on the other side to overcome that. It communicates that you have what it takes to succeed and form a connection with people right at that moment.

GW: In terms of that connection, who have you seen do that exceptionally well?

TJ: I’ll say that as an investor, Rayn Ong from Archangel Ventures is very good at building his personal brand as a VC who is founder-friendly.

A great founder is Simon McNamara, the founder of BOUNCE Inc. He taught me that the art of storytelling is just like making a movie. It’s the initial attraction, and then up and down, up and down, before reaching a satisfying conclusion, such as in a Hollywood movie.

“Emotion is so important. It’s not just the business; it is about the story.”