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Jessica covers Australia's technology start-up scene, writing on breaking news and trends in entrepreneurialism, media and marketing. She was previously named Australia's best New IT Journalist for 2011.

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Ask the angel investor: Jim Kalokerinos

Published 17 September 2012 06:10, Updated 20 September 2012 05:00

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How did you get into angel investment?

I was a co-founder of three successful companies and became aware of the entrepreneurial challenges in driving high growth companies with limited resources. I have empathy with the entrepreneur and the investor. I have had successful exits, complete losses and I have a number of investments in play for which I have high expectations. It was a natural step to become part of an angel group. It is satisfying to pass on what I have learnt especially knowing how difficult it can be to get good innovation to market.

What was your best investment?

Panbio, a maker of pathology laboratory products, which developed in to a high tech in-vitro diagnostics manufacturer and marketer selling globally. I was a co-founder in the early ’90s. It was profitable for me both at IPO [in 2001] and at exit in 2008, when it was taken over by Inverness Medical Technology (it is now listed on the Nasdaq as Alere).

What was your worst investment? What did you learn?

I made an investment in a biosensor that failed to get to market. Management and investor aspirations were unrealistic for what had been achieved. Value creation was incremental and things got worse when milestones were not met due to lack of funding.

What makes a great pitch?

Entrepreneurs will normally give a great pitch if they can easily explain the issue or need that they are addressing, point out their innovative solution to this and then explain what the opportunity is for the investor and the customer.

What is your attitude to failure in business?

I would say no one is pleased with failure in business. I have had some completely failed investments but I am very tuned in to why they failed, to avoid repeats. Also I have made one significant investment where people involved have failed in the past. However, they are better for it and learnt from the mistakes. If an entrepreneur is afraid of failure it may mean that some game changing initiatives may never be taken.

What kind of companies or sectors are you keen on?

My background is biotechnology and devices so I am drawn to these sectors. However, I have also invested in other sectors such as IT, horticulture, clean tech and food tech. The strength of Brisbane Angels is that its members have varied sector knowledge, so I am able to feel comfortable in other sectors based on advice from members in the group.

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