Q&A: Valuable Insights from TCA Investor Jiri Modry

Jiri Modry, TCA member

OC Startups Now will periodically run Q&A’s with interesting entrepreneurs, investors and other key players in the OC startup/innovation ecosystem, in their own words. This Q&A is the second of a series with Tech Coast Angels OC investors. It features Jiri Modry, who joined the OC chapter in 2012.

Modry is also a lead investor and board member of iPourIt, with HQ in Lake Forest. The company developed tech to enable self-service of beer and wine. In 2015, as the interim CEO, he re-organized the company, which included recruiting a permanent CEO and a CRO, and positioned it for “rapid growth.”

That growth as paid off, as Modry elaborates on below.

iPourIt is a Tech Coast Angels (TCA) portfolio company. TCA is is the leading source of funding to early-stage companies in SoCal, as well as the second-most active angel investor network in the U.S. in terms of funded deals.

Individual investors typically invest between $25,000 and $50,000, although they can invest more.

TCA has five chapters: OC, LA, SD, Central Coast and the Inland Empire.

See related story about recent TCA investments here.

OCSN: What was the catalyst for becoming a member?

Modry: The opportunity to work with a group of smart, dedicated people – entrepreneurs & investors alike – with a shared desire to build successful businesses.

OCSN: How did your experience as the former CEO of iPourIT and your other professional experiences prepare you to be an angel investor?

Modry: Pretty well. I’ve done several startups, as well as run sizable organizations. I’ve experienced spectacular growth, as well as humbling failure.

Having said that, angel investing is challenging and high risk. The CEO is key, and he/she should collaborate with an experienced lead investor – her/his trusted advisor and board member.

That’s a good start to having an eventual winner – getting to an exit at 10 times the investment value in about five years.

OCSN: What is the latest news out of iPourIT?

Modry: The company is scaling really well on all fronts, and is a market leader with a commanding 65% market share.

(The following stats come from the company’s website: 4.3 million ounces flow through our taps each month, and a total of 83.4 million ounces poured since 2012. 3,400 taps in operation and about $44.4 million in revenue generated for our operators.)

The team is very strong. The self-serve beer technology is the most advanced and fully developed in the U.S.

The CEO, (Carl Mostert), is a strong, experienced leader who collaborates extensively with the board and leverages its many valuable connections. And, most importantly – our customers – the tap room owners – love iPourIt for the experience they offer their beer loving patrons and the profits they make!

OCSN: What is your investment strategy as a TCA member?

Modry: I invest in companies that believe in pursuing collaborative business opportunities with high return potential. I like to add value to the company – through being an engaged board member and sharing my experience and connections.

I am very selective and invest larger amounts in fewer companies (rifle shot), rather than smaller amounts in many companies (shotgun approach).

This is contrary to an angel investing guideline, supported by investment outcome statistics, which recommends investing in 20 to 40 companies.

Well, I’ve never been shy to be different.

OCSN: Please discuss any synergies you have with other entities in the OC startup/innovation ecosystem.

Modry: Over time, I have participated in several OCTANe and UCI Applied Innovation events – to meet entrepreneurs, investors and to learn. It’s good networking.

OCSN: Anything else you’d like to add?

Modry: All startups are hard and the stark reality is that most do not succeed. So my hat off to the entrepreneurs who, knowing the odds, persevere and create “something from nothing.”

About The Author

Deirdre Newman is a long-time journalist, who's covered OC startups for a few years.

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