Iowa angel group forms with focus on Midwest
The Business Innovation Zone announced Sunday the formation of the Plains Angels, an independent, nonprofit consortium of angel investors that plans to make investments in the areas of technology, agriculture and manufacturing.
"We want to help (accredited) investors more efficiently access high-quality deal flow," said Mike Colwell (far left), director of the Business Innovation Zone, a community-sponsored, nonprofit business accelerator located within the Greater Des Moines Partnership. "But more importantly, we want to encourage young entrepreneurs to keep bringing innovative ideas to the table."
The group, which will look at Midwest investment opportunities, aims to have more than 50 members – it has already invited around 100 – and anticipates its first investment to come by late summer or early fall. Colwell expects individual members to make investments between $25,000 - $100,000 and the group to look at deals in the $150,000 - $750,000 range. Investments will be made individually – Plains Angels is not a fund – but the group will offer a forum for its members to collaborate on due diligence.
Plains Angels is the result of planning by the Business Innovation Zone and StartupIowa, and it's the recipient of an undisclosed amount of funding from BrownWinick law firm and the Greater Des Moines Partnership, sponsorships that Colwell said will support the activities of the group.
Though the group doesn't have official roles and titles, Colwell said he will share primary responsibility for day-to-day activities with Christian Renaud (above, near left), a guiding principal of StartupIowa and a principal at StartupCity Des Moines. Colwell and Renaud will not make investments through Plains Angels, a move both men said was made to avoid potential conflicts of interest. "We are deliberately separating the operations supporting the group from the investing," Renaud said in an email interview.
Plains Angels will review deals on an ongoing basis and meet monthly for presentations from early-stage companies. Accredited investors (individuals with a net worth of more than $1 million or income exceeding $200,000 each of the past two years) are invited to join at no cost. The group's first meeting is at 6 p.m. on June 18. People interested in attending can RVSP (required) to Colwell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We have taken a hard look at many of the existing angel groups in the Midwest including the Nebraska Angels, Hyde Park and others," Colwell said in an email interview. "We are using their 'lessons learned' to shape our efforts."
During the 2011 legislative session, the Iowa General Assembly approved an annual $2 million allocation of state tax credits for investments in qualifying businesses. For more on these credits, see our post: "Breaking down the Iowa angel tax credit".
Credits: Photo of Mike Colwell from bizci.org. Photo of Christian Renaud courtesy of Renaud.