Fundamentals of Angel Investing program empowered regional investors to make impact

Launch NY, upstate New York’s first and only venture development organization to provide pro bono mentoring and capital access to high-growth startups across the 27 westernmost counties of the state, partnered with Buffalo Angels, a division of the WNY Venture Association, and Techstars, a worldwide network that supports new ventures by connecting entrepreneurs, for an event at Shea’s Seneca called Invest Local 101: The Fundamentals of Angel Investing.

The half-day intensive accredited investor workshop came to Western New York to bring together new angels and accredited investors for a deep dive into the world of angel investing, with panelists from Western New York, San Francisco, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Ontario, and more. Through a collaboration with ecosystem partners, Angel Capital Association’s Fundamentals of Angel Investing Workshop was designed for new angels or accredited investors interested in a deep dive into angel investing.

Launch NY is committed to connecting investors with promising entrepreneurs in Upstate NY who need seed and early stage capital, and as an important step in engaging ever increasing numbers of funders in these Invest Local connections, took the mystery out of what is known is angel investing.

Facilitated by Denise Dunlap from Loon Creek Capital Group, a certified Angel Capital Association instructor, the session included presentations and panel discussions on the angel investing process, due diligence, valuation, term sheets, and more from experienced angels such as Parker MacDonell from Rev1 Ventures and Ohio TechAngel Funds, Elizabeth Cooper from Keiretsu Forum and Plum Alley Investments, Carl Furtado from Frog Pond Ventures, Mark Barberio from Markapital, LLC, and other angels from the region and across the country.

The Invest Local event was supported in part by Launch NY’s recently announced $300,000 award from the Economic Development Administration, a bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce, which is being used to introduce the first digitally administered Investor Network dedicated to injecting capital into Upstate NY’s most promising startup companies. The Invest Local 101 program was part of a series of events that kicked off with the Invest Local Summit and Expo Feb. 5 that hosted nearly 250 investors, Launch NY client companies, and other ecosystem stakeholders learning about the region’s new Invest Local financing program and initiatives.

“We have so many people asking us how to get more involved in supporting our startup community that we worked with our partners to design a program specifically for new investors. Through this event, we were pleased to share the good news that accredited investors play a critical role in supporting new businesses with capital to launch and grow new products,” said Marnie LaVigne, president and CEO of Launch NY. “Attendees heard directly from experienced angels, sharing their first investments, their successes and challenges, lessons learned and guidance to newcomers. Then we helped accredited investors plug into Invest Local networks that allow angels to make a difference with an opportunity to receive returns at the same time.”

Angel investing consists of accredited investors (as defined here by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission) providing capital for a startup business, usually in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity. Launch NY, who mentors over 250 new companies at any given time, has the most active seed fund in New York state and one of the most active in the United States, which has attracted over 130 accredited investors to cofund Launch NY portfolio companies. The Buffalo Angels, a member of the national Angel Capital Association, manage a seed investment fund that evaluates and manages investment opportunities. Buffalo Angels members must attend regular meetings to consider pre-screened early-stage investment opportunities, contribute expertise and knowledge and be prepared to invest at least $15,000 per deal in one or more companies per year.

“Angels are a key player in a regional economy, providing the high impact first dollars that help finalize development, properly resource the founding team and provide the thrust to take businesses commercial and through viability,” said Jack Greco, executive director of Techstars. “Awareness on the basics of angel investing is key to building a robust startup ecosystem, helping to educate potential investors on best practices and setting sound expectations. Part of a balanced portfolio, the right amount of high risk/high reward exposure may provide not only a strong financial play, but prove to be the most gratifying of investments available.”

“We wanted to take the mystery out of angel investing in a relaxed, yet informative atmosphere,” said Jack McGowan, director of the WNY Venture Association and Buffalo Angels. “By bringing angel investors together to share best practices and their stories about local investing, we’re ultimately helping to fund the growth of our region through a larger, better informed investor community in upstate New York.”

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