EDAWN seeks angel investors; Startup Angels Workshop coming to Reno | nnbusinessview.com

EDAWN seeks angel investors; Startup Angels Workshop coming to Reno

Sally Roberts | sroberts@nnbw.biz

RENO, Nev. — The Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada is teaming up with the international organization, Startup Angels, to improve the startup ecosystem of Northern Nevada by increasing opportunities, collaboration and understanding of early stage investments.

The effort is partly funded by a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Authority office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

"We wrote the grant specifically to improve the seed capital ecosystem in Northern Nevada," Doug Erwin, vice president entrepreneurial development at EDAWN, told the NNBW. "Startup Angels is part of that."

Extensive discussion with entrepreneurial partners leading up to the grant application determined that a major need for startups is better access to capital, he said.

"Our goal over the next couple years is to get this ecosystem up," he said. "… (to create) an ecosystem that includes all the different players."

The first step is recruiting and training more angel investors to be part of a healthier entrepreneurial ecosystem.

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Angel investment can be a risky deal. Many startups fail. But not all, and that's what an entrepreneurial ecosystem is based on. According to Startup Angels, the average annual return on angel investing over the last couple decades is an incredible 27.3 percent.

"The community really needs to step up early-stage investing," Erwin said. "Angels want to make money by investing, … but by stepping up and writing checks, they are supporters of the ecosystem."

The Startup Angel Workshop will take place April 11-12. It's designed for new and existing accredited investors interested in early stage startup investing. Participation is limited to 40-50 people.

"Through our work, we've learned there's demand for information about startup investing across the U.S. and around the globe," Leslie Jump, founder and CEO of Startup Angels, said in a written statement. "In response, we created the Startup Angels Workshop to support the specific challenges and opportunities that different communities have when it comes to inspiring and educating local investors. We're looking forward to being the catalyst for more startup investors in the Northern Nevada region — a natural community for more angel investors due to its strong startup roots and phenomenal industrial expertise." 

About a dozen planned speakers and leaders have been drawn from angel organizations throughout the U.S., including Angela Jackson, of Portland Seed Fund; Kevin Learned, from Boise Angel Alliance; and several from Startup Angels, plus several Reno investment advisors and others.

Among topics planned for the workshop are portfolio theory and pooling resources to provide larger funding amounts to startups.

Also planned are "deal forums" to bring investors and entrepreneurs together, and the local Startup Angels program will curate "deal flow" — a financial term that refers to the rate at which investors receive business proposals/offers — to both increase the number of deals investors can look at, and increase the quality of what they're considering investing in.

"We're trying to improve the deal flow, to help bring the best (startups) to the top," Erwin said.

The Startup Angel programs continue the dramatic increases in startups and entrepreneurial efforts in the region since the Great Recession.

In a 2014 study, the Kaufman Foundation said Reno had the No. 1 most populous and highest startup density for any metropolitan statistical area of its class size.

"We see entrepreneurial and startup technology jobs as a growing part of our economy over the coming years," EDAWN President and CEO, Mike Kazmierski said in a written statement. "Seed capital largely comes from local investors who have a vested interest in the long-term success of our regions' ecosystem.

"It provides a critically important resource for startups to launch and gain market acceptance, before seeking growth capital from outside our region."

If You Go

What: Startup Angels Workshop

When: April 11-12

Where: Napa Sonoma (11th); Desert Research Institute (12th)

Details: bit.ly/2Fq9HB0