How Angel List Onboards Its Users

Max Cameron

Angel List

If you’re a startup or a SaaS business, chances are you have one of AngelList’s 100,000 startup profiles. AngelList describes itself modestly as “…a platform for startups to meet investors and talent,” but the network is attempting to fundamentally alter the way that startups meet investors and raise money.

They were able to avoid the chicken and egg problem that plagues so many two-sided marketplaces because an Angel List page is useful even without investors on their site. They solved a logistical problem first - taking the pain out of distributing information about your startup to interested investors.

And once AngelList tipped with startups, it was only a matter of time before investors followed in droves. Because after all, that’s what investors do best :)

Angel List Onboarding Goals

I would bet dollars to doughnuts that Angel List’s criteria for activation is the act of publishing a startup profile. But much like Linkedin, simply publishing a profile isn’t enough. The key is publishing a complete profile.

So what, specifically, are they looking for, and how do they get users there?

An Angel List profile can be separated into three main sections: Basic information (name, logo, location, etc), adding your team (founders, employees, professional services, advisors, customers, etc), and lastly, the more advanced profile information (financial numbers, deck, product information, press mentions, etc).

Essentially, activating on AngelList means completing a very complex form. And so my gut says the biggest activation challenge isn’t learning how to use the software - most likely it’s creating the content and having your team agree on it.

Angel List Onboarding Conventions

Wizard Pattern

From a UX perspective, Angel List is using the Wizard Pattern to guide users through the onboarding process, starting with the easiest information and moving to the most complex information. The first section of the wizard the basic company info, the second section is the team section, and then they send you to your actual profile to fill in the advanced information.


Empty State Micro-Copy

When you’re looking at an empty section of your Angel List profile, they show you some micro-copy that gives you hints on what to include. For example, underneath of the Images & Video section, the micro-copy reads, “Show off your product. Screenshots are the fastest way to show what you’re building. Video walkthroughs of the product or pitch are too in-depth.”

Section Specific ToolTips

For the more complex profile information, Angel List implemented tool tips with concrete examples. These are the types of questions that can really slow you down, so having specific examples shrinks the challenge.


Profile Completeness

At first I didn’t think that Angel List had a profile completeness feature, but it turns out they do, tucked away in the dashboard. There are a series of three “tips” next to the progress bar, and when you click on one of the tips, they jump to the appropriate URL.



  1. Good use of Wizard Pattern - this is a convention we also use, and it’s interesting to see how they include the easier information first, moving on to the more complex information later.

  2. In-line Edit State - 9 - It’s really nice that you don’t have to go to a separate page to edit a section of your profile. Rather, when you click an edit button, the section changes into a different state that lets you edit on the fly.

  3. Profile Completeness - If you can find it, the profile completeness widget is an effective and motivating guide.

Areas of Opportunity

  1. It’s hard to tell what the priority of the sections are. I think this is key when you’re presented with such a large amount of content to produce.

  2. I think there’s an opportunity for Angel List to explicitly communicate the benefits of a complete profile. Are my chances better of receiving investor interest?

  3. In order to increase motivation and feedback, it would be good to raise the prominence of the profile completeness widget. It should be front and center throughout the onboarding process, not hidden in a secondary page (the dashboard, which becomes more important later on in the lifecycle).

Of course you can check out Kera’s Angel List page, and you can find me on twitter any time of the day.