We could use a population explosion around these parts -- of angel investors.
While Boston is home to some great angel groups like CommonAngels and Launch Pad Venture Group, we're definitely at a deep angel deficit compared to our country's other innovation region. But I'm encouraged by some new data points I've been hearing about...
Angels typically invest in a fledgling company well before the product or technology has been "fully baked" or the first customer order signed -- there may just be one or two employees. And "angel money is often the least restrictive, least dilutive kind of financing available to an entrepreneur," says Lawrence Gennari, a partner at Choate Hall & Stewart in Boston. One of Gennari's goals is to "create and discover more angels."
To that end, Gennari has been running a super-secret dinner series this summer, bringing together angels with company founders. "There's no agenda," he says. "We just talk about what we're seeing." The investors who attend, Gennari says, "don't want to join a group [of angel investors], and they don't want to be listed on a Web site. Their view is, just show me something that's interesting."
I asked whether the monthly dinners, usually held out in the western 'burbs, have produced any investment success stories yet. "It's too early to say there are deals done, but some are in process," Gennari says. "But we're not sitting at the table cutting term sheets at the dinners themselves."
Gennari also runs an annual angel investing conference at UMass Boston (here's a PDF of last year's agenda); the 2009 date isn't yet set.
One other encouraging data point is Golden Seeds, an angel group that funds start-ups founded by women. It first put down roots in Boston three years ago, and the inaugural pair of angel investors were Jill Preotle (an investor in ZipCar and Dancing Deer Bakery) and Jean Hammond (JAM Technologies and iTeam, among others). They've now grown to 19 members in Boston, and the group actively encourages others to explore the world of angel investing. Their September meeting takes place on the 17th; it's by invite only.
Is there any other new angel activity you've been hearing about, in Boston or elsewhere in New England? Post a comment if you would...