Playing the business angel: The impact of well-known business angels on venture performance

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review



People well known to the general public are increasingly acting as business angels (BAs) for young and innovative ventures worldwide. These BAs are less known for their venture evaluation skills and often do not have a professional reputation as investors. The signaling function of these well-known investors could therefore be less relevant for founders because of a limited quality assurance function. Nonetheless, a venture’s affiliation with a well-known BA may still positively alter the quality perceptions of various stakeholders because the BAs can put their reputation in other areas of life at risk, provide an easy-to-interpret and fluent cue to the general public, and improve the observability of the signal. Using a sample of more than 2,900 early-stage ventures that made a venture pitch during the Canadian, German, U.K., and U.S. versions of the reality TV show Dragons’ Den, we find that BAs’ degree of being known has a positive impact on target firm survival, web traffic, and sales. The impact of BAs’ general degree of being known is particularly strong if the congruency between the investors and the target ventures is high. These effects exist over and above potential selection effects, the professional reputation of the BA, and the greater financial resources of a funded venture. The empirical findings indicate that well-known BAs can have a positive effect on venture performance and that founders should consider not only the professional reputation of BAs but also the degree to which they are known to a general audience.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-204
Number of pages34
JournalEntrepreneurship Theory and Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

External IDs

Scopus 85148732199
WOS 000938992800001
ORCID /0000-0002-0576-7759/work/142239310
Mendeley dc4d262a-8897-3407-9744-55ea5130d794


Research priority areas of TU Dresden

DFG Classification of Subject Areas according to Review Boards

Subject groups, research areas, subject areas according to Destatis


  • being known, business angel, congruency, relative weight analysis, Being known, Business angel, Congruency, Relative weight analysis, congruency, business angel, relative weight analysis, being known

Library keywords