Saturday, June 16, 2012

Angels came away with two big awards at the MITX Innovation Awards dinner last week; honored were the Common Angels and Bill Warner.
The CommonAngels was named Investor of the Year based on having the most portfolio companies making it to the finalist stage. “This award is a great honor,” says Common Angels Managing Director Chris Sheehan. “As investors, it’s a privilege to have invested in five MITX finalists – Apperian, Crashlytics, Insight Squared, Practically Green, and Yieldbot.  All these teams are building really innovative companies here in Boston.”

Entrepreneur and angel investor Bill Warner was inaugurated into the MITX Innovation Hall of Fame. He is widely known in our angel community for creating the MassTLC Innovation unConference and for his role in bringing TechStars to Boston.

The MITX Innovation Awards are described as “a competition that celebrates the innovations powering the future of marketing and revolutionizing the way we work and play.”
The 2012 MITX Innovation Awards Winners Circle:
Best Bootstrapped Start-Up Temperature@lert
Best Business Operations Simplifier
aPriori Inc.
Best Commerce Transformer/Game Changer
Catalina Marketing
Best Consumer Tech that Makes Life Easier
True Fit
Best Contribution to Innovation by a University/College
Northeastern Entrepreneurs Club & IDEA
Best Customer Engagement Driver
WordStream, Inc.
Best “Doing Good” Innovation
Best Mobile App
Best Mobile Solution
Best Use of Game Mechanics
Practically Green
Best User Experience
Brass Monkey
Best Wellness Innovation
Most Insightful: Analytics/ Business Intelligence
True Fit
Best of Show
PwC Promise Award
PwC Promise Award
Investor of the Year

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Red Line Fever

The setting: Picture Cambridge’s Kendall Square, adjacent to MIT, world renowned for invention and entrepreneurship. Meanwhile, Boston’s Mayor Tom Menino initiates an effort to lure these new companies to South Boston’s industrial waterfront, newly designated the “Innovation District.” A thin red line and a “Charlie Card” connect the two locations.  Far to the south, connecting at South Station via Amtrak, NYC Mayor Bloomberg claims the Axis of Ego now runs directly from Sunnyvale to the Roosevelt Island tramway. “Today, we’re second only to Silicon Valley as a tech center, and we don’t like to be second to anybody,” he says.  Dramatis personæ aside, we tell the true story here.

Red Line Fever, a Hi-Tech Symphony

Clanking wheels
Burping beer,
Braking squeals
Bold Idea!

Accelerator wants a beta.

TechStars, MassChallenge, Angels, VCs
Founders dilemmas weakening knees.

VC backing
Sends you packing.
Leaving when?
Start again.

Lemmings rush a dirty sea
All the way from MIT
Building an economy
Based upon mobility
Making jobs for you and me.

Buckle down it’s not too hard
When you use your Charlie Card.
Kendall Square to Whitey’s town
Founders whooshing underground
With the scent of innovation
Rising from each Red Line station.

Silicon Valley? Silicon Alley?
Boulder and D.C.
You can’t match the red “T” sign

George McQuilken, Copyright 2012

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Maine: The Way Angels Ought To Be

Displaying great vigor, the Maine Angels have elected new leaders, started collecting dues, recruited new members, begun participating in regional summits, and invested in eleven new deals in the last twelve months.

“New officers were nominated last fall, and annual dues were initiated of just under $200 to actively require members to reaffirm their interest,” says Chair Sandra Stone. “There were seventeen members that chose to become ‘inactive alumni.’ Since the October Annual meeting, however, fourteen new members have joined, bringing us up to 46 members. In those seven months, we have reviewed over 60 deals which we declined to pursue, and closed on over $1.1M on eleven deals in the last twelve months. Our total portfolio now stands at almost $5.89M invested in 51 deals, 34 individual companies, 17 follow ons.” 

“After participating  in our first ACA regional summit in Feb 2012, where Maine Angels introduced the Cerahelix deal (generating good interest but only securing minimal total investment of $25,000 from three investors) we invited two of the other regional summit presenters up here, and invested $100,000 in both Respiratory Motion, and JB Therapeutics.” says Stone. 

“We have not yet had a profitable exit, but are excited about several of the companies in the pipeline,” she says.

The Maine Angels was founded by Charlie Sidman in 2003. He was succeeded by Chris Speh (2007-2011). Sandra Stone is now Chair and Don Gooding, Vice Chair. The group typically meets on the  4th Friday of each  month from nine to noon.  They currently rotate locations having outgrown the prior space; 25-30 members attend these days.

Chair Sandra Stone is a principal at Sea Cove Solutions – Collaborations in Entrepreneurship. Formerly she was with MCED, Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development, a business technology incubator in Portland, Maine. 

An Angel’s Diary
This title of this post reflects my ambiguity toward the way Maine presents itself to those of us “from away.”  In the past, signs at the border proclaimed “Maine, The Way Life Ought To Be.”  Apparently, the grammar police seized the slogan; today it reads “Maine, The Way Life Should Be.”    I prefer the former as a truer expression of the Down East patois, which I love.
If you haven’t visited recently, Maine is surprisingly large and, away from the coast, surprisingly poor. In Frenchville, my Grandma’s hometown, for the last 100 years they have been exporting the same four products:  pine, pulp, potatoes, and people.   Before Route 95, to get these “four Ps”  to  market in Boston  they had to truck them through the Haynesville Woods. Should you desire to know what the trip was like, click here for a video of Maine’s greatest country singer, Dick Curless, telling you all about it.

Angels could do much for the Maine economy, were it not so very very hard to raise money for strictly regional deals, as Maine Angel John Sharood  and I discussed at our most recent  ACA meeting in Waltham.  Perhaps Crowdfunding could help, particularly if it provides some liquidity, but we won’t know until the new rules are made and published.

-George McQuilken

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Experienced angels here in the Northeast are looking to add a couple of new angel groups to our roster. One, the Science and Engineering Angels, is being formed out in Western MA by Joseph Steig and  Judith Giordan.  Another, SideCar Angels, proposed  by Rick Lucash and   Jeff Stoler, will be in the Boston area.

Red Line rider Scott Kirsner “outed” the Science and Engineering Angels in his Innovation Economy blog today, thus prompting this post.  I say outed because they really aren’t up and running and ready for prime time yet. "The whole project is still speculative," Steig told Kirsner. "We're talking to investors about how this might take shape. There's no critical mass of investors yet."

At least one expert considers it a good idea. “The HALO Report for 2011 found that nearly 30 percent of investments from angel groups were in companies outside of healthcare, Internet, and Mobile/Telecom,” says Marianne Hudson of the Angel Capital Assn. “It makes sense to build more investment and mentoring resources to support the science and engineering companies that are part of this significant segment.  The Science and Engineering Angels could help build diversity in the innovative startup community.”

Steig is well known to the angel community as the founder and original Managing Director at River Valley Investors.  He is currently CFO of  Long River Ventures, an early stage venture fund with IT and Healthcare IT focus.  Giordan is Board Chair of VentureWell, a nonprofit initiative providing venture development and seed investing for university based researchers and start-ups in green materials, energy efficiency, and medical products and services.

 SideCar Angels intends to work with existing groups that wish to raise capital for their portfolio companies by syndicating their deals: angel groups, microventure capital funds, and “super angels.” SideCar’s goal is to provide a substantial source of additional funding for early stage companies.

“I am deeply involved with the entrepreneurial community and founded the LaunchPad angel investment group,” says Lucash, a practicing attorney,  designated as a "Contributor" to the Venture Cafe in Cambridge.  Jeffrey Stoler is Lead Partner at McCarter & English's Emerging Companies Practice Group -- emphasizing financing, growth & deals. 

For more information on these groups, contact the principals. For more information on the principals, click through to their LinkedIn profiles.