STORY | Meet Francesca Natali, Archangel for Hungary

Archangel for Hungary, Francesca Natali is a business angel since 2004. She highlights her journey in the investment world, particularly her success with the sale of Spreaker to iHeartMedia in 2020. 


How long have you been a business angel and what are your greatest successes?

I have been in the business angel since 2004, marking the initiation of my professional journey as a managing partner of a venture capital company, investing alongside Business Angels. On 2019 I joined the Angels 4 Women, the largest female Business Angel Club  Since then, I have overseen a considerable number of startups where we made investments. However, the first significant achievement came in 2020 when Spreaker was sold to iHeartMedia. Spreaker was established in 2010 when a group of friends embarked on a new venture that would profoundly impact the audio content landscape and their lives. They brought Spreaker to life, a platform that emerged as the pioneer of social web radio, allowing users to curate and broadcast diverse content, ranging from music to news and sports. Spreaker seamlessly integrated traditional radio experiences with social networking dynamics, leveraging proprietary technology. The initial team’s expertise lay in technology, and the founders concentrated on crafting a tool for content creators.

At the beta launch in early 2010, from a modest office in Bologna, Spreaker swiftly garnered 10,000 content creators and over 200,000 listeners. Soon, the company required capital to expand, securing funds through a seed round from business angels.

Around 2013, Spreaker reached a turning point when a new Apple operating system, iOS 8, was introduced, featuring a distinct Podcast application separate from iTunes and pre-installed on the iPhone.

In 2018, Spreaker merged with BlogTalkRadio to form Voxnest, headquartered in Brooklyn. This conglomerate, boasting over 50,000 podcasts, later became wholly owned by iHeartMedia, resulting in a profitable exit for Spreaker’s investors.


What does the ‘new generation of angels’ means to you?

Unlike traditional business angels who often come from corporate or finance backgrounds, the new generation comprises individuals from diverse professions and industries. They might include successful entrepreneurs, technologists, creatives, or professionals with expertise in specific domains like AI or sustainability.

The new generation of BAs is often more tech-savvy and globally connected, leveraging digital platforms and networks to discover investment opportunities beyond their local markets. They are more likely to invest in startups with scalable business models that have the potential for rapid growth and global impact. Most of them prioritize social and environmental impact alongside financial returns. They may seek out startups that are aligned with their values, such as those focused on sustainability, diversity and inclusion, or ethical business practices.

This generation recognizes the importance of diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship. They actively seek out opportunities to support underrepresented founders, including women, people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and entrepreneurs from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.

Overall, the new generation of business angels represents a more diverse, socially conscious, and interconnected group of investors who play a critical role in fueling innovation and driving positive change in the startup ecosystem.


What do you consider to be the biggest difficulties that new business angels are facing and what advice would you like to give them?

New business angels may lack experience in evaluating startups, negotiating deals, and understanding the nuances of the investment landscape. They may consider joining angel investor groups or networks where they can learn from experienced investors and participate in due diligence processes. Investing in startups involves a high level of risk and new angels may struggle with assessing and managing these risks effectively. It is crucial to diversify the investment portfolio and spread investments across multiple companies and sectors to mitigate risk. Additionally, they may  conduct thorough due diligence (even better in syndicate with other investors) on potential investments to better understand the risks involved.

Finding promising investment opportunities can be challenging, especially for new angels who may not have an extensive network in the startup ecosystem. Because of that it is important to build network, connect with entrepreneurs, fellow and more experienced investors, and industry professionals. Networking can help New Angels to discover new opportunities and gain insights into emerging trends.

Startup investing can be emotionally taxing, with highs and lows often experienced throughout the journey. It is crucial to maintain a long-term perspective. Understand that not all investments will succeed, and setbacks are a natural part of the process. Stay patient, resilient, and focused on investment goals.


Why did you join the ESIL project and what are your expectations?

I joined the ESIL project because I believe in its mission to support and educate aspiring angel investors.I see the potential for technology to democratize access to knowledge and opportunities, and this project aligns with that vision. By providing resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities, we can empower individuals to become successful angel investors and contribute to innovation and entrepreneurship.

My expectations for the project are to see it foster a vibrant community of angel investors who are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and connections to make informed investment decisions and support promising startups. I hope to see participants grow and learn from each other, ultimately making a positive impact on the startup ecosystem.