New fund provides opportunities for investors looking to boost startup firms
By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
i2E provides entrepreneurs, investors and the state with a connected, well-understood continuum of capital. Our new fund, i2E Angel Fund I, will make that continuum of capital even more robust.
SeedStep Angels, Oklahoma’s largest organized angel group, has delivered enormous benefits to the entrepreneurs and startups of this state. The i2E Angel Fund I is an alternative for accredited angel investors who seek diversified investment in seed-stage companies without active participation in an angel group.
Since i2E organized SeedStep Angels in 2009, the angel group, SeedStep Angels, currently more than 50 accredited angel investors from across Oklahoma, has invested more than $7.5 million in more than 30 companies.
Organized angel groups invest far more than money. Many angels are cashed out or serial entrepreneurs themselves. They like to be hands-on with entrepreneurs. They want and are willing to commit the time to screen deals, engage in due diligence, mentor or serve on a startup’s board. Angel group members apply their industry knowledge and contacts to connect entrepreneurs with experts and even customers.
But this level of personal participation doesn’t work for everyone.
Over the years, we have talked with many accredited investors who were interested in allocating some portion of their portfolio to seed stage investing, but for whom the angel group model wasn’t quite a fit. Making investment decisions deal by individual deal takes time, personal due diligence, and requires multiple investments (and more money) to fully diversify.
The i2E Angel Fund I provides seed-stage capital with professional management and diversification, plus offering the satisfaction of investing in job and wealth creation in Oklahoma. The fund benefits from i2E’s deal flow of quality, well-vetted startups. (The fund’s primary focus is on Oklahoma companies, but to ensure adequate deal flow, the fund may invest outside the state.)
For entrepreneurs, raising capital at any stage can be challenging and extremely time consuming. This is especially true in the earliest life of the company. Raising seed-stage capital pulls company founders away from the very thing we most want them to be doing — validating markets, creating viable products and achieving other critical milestones that must be accomplished to accelerate successful new businesses.
There’s a gap in capital markets — a shortage of funding available from the seed stage through the startup stage ($250,000 to $5 million). The i2E Angel Fund I is one more option to close that gap for Oklahoma’s startups and entrepreneurs.
Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.