What comes to mind when you hear the term investing? For some it's the thought of the stock market, ETFs, and mutual funds, for others it's the ideas of residential and commercial real estate. But what if there was another asset class.. one more thrilling than property, one where you controlled how much or how little effort you gave, and one where you're able to leave an impact?
Let me tell you about angel investing. As Wikipedia says "An angel investor is an individual who provides capital for a business start-up, usually in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity." This usually comes at a time when most investors and venture firms are unprepared or unwilling to support them. Sophisticated angel investing as it's known usually only takes up around 5% of an investor's portfolio because of how speculative it is. However the returns can be great.. it's all the inherent risk of this specific asset class.
Do you ever wonder what it would have been like to be one of the first investors in Uber or Apple? Matter of fact, in the entire process of venture financing, there are specific organizations focused on the sole discovery and presentation of early stage startups with industry changing potential. These organizations are called sophisticated angel networks, including the one I lead.
So let me tell you about Canyon Angels, an angel group that's exclusively partnered with the nation's largest Christian university and its' business incubator and accelerator. Started in 2015 by local Phoenix entrepreneur and philanthropist Tim Kelley, Canyon Angels was created as a way to solve two problems in the business ecosystem - the distance between angel investors, and the inability for undergraduate students to gain hands on experience with deal analysis.
Five years later Canyon Angels is a fully functioning investment group with nearly 70 members, a portfolio of 30 companies totaling just over $3 million in investments from out members, a full 1 credit angel investing research class created by Grand Canyon University, and an exclusive partnership with GCU's Canyon Ventures business accelerator. Everyday our Canyon Angels Leadership team works to elevate our investor and entrepreneur experience, whether it's through angel training events, community partnerships, or by seeking to build meaningful relationships with our members.
Serving as Vice President has been, I would say, my greatest honor as I've been able to see the impact of our actions far and wide. Our members have invested with confidence, our students have gained a valuable edge heading into the world, and our startups have sourced funding to turn their ideas into reality. These are things that the team and I look to build on this year, in fact just recently we helped ICT close their funding round using Canyon Angel's newly minted Sidecar Fund.
In fact, after taking a look back at what Dr. Randy Gibb, Dean of the GCU College of Business marked as goals in 2015 “One, we want to increase the number of accredited investors who are actively investing in startups. Two, we want to help the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Valley and help startups. And three, we want to get our GCU students involved and give them the bug to learn from doing due diligence so that when they go forth with their own ventures they’ll know that much more and they’ll have a jumpstart toward success.”
I'd say we're right on track.