(Note: This is a new monthly startup series authored by Charlotte investor Greg Brown, the administrator of the Charlotte Angel Fund, where he will discuss the current batch of startups presenting to the fund’s membership as well as topics that may be of interest to those who care about Charlotte’s entrepreneurial community.)
What is Charlotte Angel Fund?
Charlotte Angel Fund is an aggregation of capital from more than 50 Charlotte-area men and women for the purpose of investing in early-stage companies. Our group is growing quite nicely, with 19 members having joined during 2015 and eight having joined thus far in 2016. I am one of the investors in the fund and also serve as the group’s administrator.
A typical investment for us would be $100,000 as a part of a funding round that totals $500,000 to $2 million. When the fund makes an investment, the individual members of the fund are able to put additional capital into the funding round in order to increase their stake in that particular company.
The fund was formed in December 2013, and made its first investment in August 2014. To date we have invested in six companies, all of which are North Carolina-based. Those portfolio companies are as follows:
- Education Technology – Upswing
- Semiconductor – Guerrilla RF
- Medical Diagnostics – NIRvana Sciences and Baebies
- Medical Device – Camras Vision
- Augmented Reality – PRSONAS
In my role as the administrator, I select a group of companies that are seeking funding to present at each of our monthly membership meetings. The companies are selected based upon whether the business, its stage of development, and the details of the proposed financing are a good fit with our members’ investment preferences.
Why is angel capital important to Charlotte?
Angel investors are typically the source of capital for businesses which have achieved some level of engagement from a customer or user community, but require additional growth before they will be of interest to banks or venture capitalists. This is often the fuel required for a business to achieve scale beyond an initial handful of customers or beyond its initial geography.
As Charlotte seeks to create a more robust entrepreneurial community, having available early stage equity capital is an important piece of the puzzle.
It should be noted that in the earliest stages of a company, the angel investors are often those who are referred to as friends and family investors. This category is primarily driven to invest by a pre-existing relationship with the company’s founders rather than based upon analysis of business results to date.
Who is presenting to Charlotte Angel Fund in June?
Our lineup of presenters this month is as follows:
CarPay is an online payment portal for the Buy Here Pay Here (BHPH) auto industry. The CarPay system allows BHPH customers to make payments and manage their accounts online, and BHPH dealers to more effectively manage their businesses. This Florida-based company is a participant in the current QC FinTech accelerator class.
Interloop utilizes machine learning to more efficiently update customer relationship management (CRM) systems and provide sales teams with guidance during complex sales processes. This Chicago-based company is a participant in the current QC FinTech accelerator class.
This Raleigh-based company provides a location-based audience and advertising attribution platform for mobile app publishers. Their solution is used to help mobile advertisers better target their ads, thus generating better return on advertising spend.
Urban Offsets is working to create localized marketplaces for the carbon offsets which are generated by cities when they plant trees. Institutions such as colleges and universities may wish to purchase those carbon offsets as a part of their efforts to achieve carbon neutrality. The Durham-based company is planning to launch a pilot program with Duke and ten other universities in fall 2016.