New Initiative: Plains Angels
Group connects investors with each other and with start-up companies needing cash
Friday, September 14, 2012 7:00 AM
Investors have money that they’re willing to invest. Young start-up companies need investment money.
Mike Colwell decided Greater Des Moines needed a way for the two groups to meet, so he helped create Plains Angels to contribute to the area’s start-up ecosystem.
“It’s to create that meeting place,” said Colwell, executive director of the Business Innovation Zone.
Colwell launched Plains Angels at the beginning of the summer with the help of StartupCity Des Moines principal Christian Renaud and monetary support from the Greater Des Moines Partnership and BrownWinick law firm. The group’s goal is to bring so-called angel investors -- investors who are a step above the level of friends and family investors -- together to interact and hear pitches from start-up companies that need funding.
Often when entrepreneurs are searching for funding, Colwell said, they will come to people like himself or Renaud seeking investors to reach out to. Each source will give the entrepreneur four or five names to contact.
“Next thing you know, you are five months into this exploration, with this diagram of all these connections, and you’ve put a ton of time and a ton of money into trying to meet these people,” Colwell said.
And those interested in investing, he said, often don’t know about potential investment opportunities or other investors with whom they could potentially partner. Plains Angels brings them all into the same room.
Plains Angels isn’t an investment group, as is the case with some similar organizations. Rather, it serves as a forum for individual angel investors to come together.
The group’s first meeting was in June, and immediately afterward, Colwell and Renaud knew it was a legitimate idea. The two had expected about 40 people to show up. About 75 people attended, and showed “serious” interest.
The group saw two companies present their product. Within nine days, members had already invested in one of the companies.
Attendance for the July meeting in the high 50s, and about 40 people attended in August, Renaud said. About 100 people overall are considered to be part of Plains Angels.
Renaud said five companies have applied to pitch at future meetings.
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