We had the good fortune of connecting with John Bradley “JJ” Jackson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi John Bradley “JJ”, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I started Titan Angels LLC, a seed investment fund, in early 2017. As a professor of Entrepreneurship, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and the founder of two incubators at Cal State Fullerton, it was clear to me that our local community was a fertile ground for startups. CSUF has 300,000 alumni and we estimate that over 75% live within two hours of campus. The greater Orange County CSUF community is ripe with creativity and innovation. Most the of the startup founders that I have met need mentoring and startup capital. Thus, starting Titan Angels LLC made sense. Why me? In addition to my experience at CSUF, my background includes a tour of duty in Silicon Valley with various high tech firms, both giant and startup. I also pulled a hitch on Wall Street helping companies go public, so I am no stranger to corporate fiance. In addition, I am a startup adviser to a handful of aspiring startups. Candidly, mentoring and investing in startups is a blast.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Advising and investing in startups begins with people of strong character and conviction, but who are also coach-able. Strong character is important because rewards generally come to people who are ethical and know the difference between right and wrong. Conviction is needed since the startup path is paved with barriers and setbacks. While passion is a cherished value, persistence and conviction propel the startup founder forward, even when times are hard. Finally, being coach-able is based on the founder’s ability to listen and accept feedback. Being a startup founder can be lonely and the initial reception to a disruptive new idea can be negative. This initial negative feedback gives the startup founder instructions on how to improve the business concept. All you need to do is listen and react with intelligence. When Titan Angels LLC analyzes a startup, we look for the following criteria Prefer a founding team rather than a single founder Has a competitive advantage Has a viable business model (how will the startup make money?) Potential for scaling and fast growth Founder/s demonstrate strong character and must be coach-able CSUF affiliation including current student, alum, or CSUF connection Awareness that an exit plan is required for outside investor participation Founder/s must be willing to give up some control to outside investors Able to protect market share (Intellectual Property preferred) Talented founder/s with industry experience preferred Ability to pitch the business concept Startup must be local Measurable sales traction
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am a life long horseman, so nothing beats a day spent on horseback. My favorite destination is the Bob Marshall Wilderness in western Montana, wilderness is in Montana. With over 1,000,000 acres with no roads or improvements, here is one of the most completely preserved mountain ecosystems in the world, the kind of wilderness most people can only imagine: rugged peaks, alpine lakes, cascading waterfalls, grassy meadows embellished with shimmering streams, a towering coniferous forest, and big river valleys. Grizzly bear, elk and wolves abound. Native trout crowd the streams. Bald eagles soar above. This is a perfect place for the back country horseman. You need a week to really see this country. Bring food, drink and some protection to scare the bears away.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I dedicate this “shoutout” to my current and former students who all provided me a great source of inspiration. Thank you!