Launched in 2003, WTC’s Angel Network is getting new investment groups started and initiating deal flow for entrepreneurial ventures across Washington. The Angel Network was created to open up opportunities for investment in Washington technology start-up companies outside more traditional urban centers, like Puget Sound, and to pave the way for smaller communities across the state to have established investment groups in their own regions.
For Spokane, which already has an active group in place, WTC worked with local partners, including ConnectNorthwest, to support the activities of the Delta Angel Group. WTC provided educational outreach to both potential investors and entrepreneurs in the area as well as providing existing groups with member recommendations and qualified investment opportunities.
Bellingham and Wenatchee started up new local angel groups under the guidance of WTC and have become charter members of the Angel Network. The Angel Network is modeled in the style of a professional membership organization and provides support to local member groups across the state, offering resources, education and deal flow, and connecting the individual groups together through a larger, statewide network.
In Tri-Cities and Yakima, angel activity is still in its earliest stages. WTC is working with entrepreneurial companies, investor candidates and local business groups to develop a localized investment community based on interest, resources and human capital locally available.
The value of having local angel groups is that the investment stays in the community. Companies that start up operations in a community have investment channels to go through in their region and can approach these investors before having to seek financial support outside the region. In return, the angels get to see their investment support business growth in their own communities and the region benefits as a whole from being able to support and grow a local economy rich in technology business and job creation.
Part of the services that WTC provides include hosting a series of workshops aimed at educating both potential angels and early-stage companies on the benefits of being connected with angel groups.
Eye of the Investor helps prepare early-stage companies looking for start-up capital to go before investors. The program provides insight into preparing for investor presentations, guidance as to what is involved in working with angels, and also the opportunity to do practice presentations directly to angels themselves. Eye of the Investor seminars, held in Bellingham and Tri-Cities, attracted 34 entrepreneurs looking to learn more about how to present their business plans favorably to potential angel groups.
A complementary program, Power of Angel Investing, helps individuals interested in becoming angel investors, to better understand what is involved in this type of investment activity, and how to evaluate if being part of an angel group is the right option for them. WTC held three Power of Angel Investing workshops over the past year in Spokane, Seattle and Richland. More than 50 angel investor candidates attended these seminars.
Over the past 12 months, the Angel Network screened 76 proposals for funding consideration. Thirteen of these companies passed WTC’s screening criteria. Six of these companies presented to members of the Angel Network with seven more currently being reviewed for future consideration.