Monday, July 29, 2013

Angel Syndicates Earn Respect: Boston, San Diego, St. Louis

What is the difference between a seed round from a VC firm and a seed round from an angel syndicate? Assuming that money is equally green and fungible, and the amounts are comparable, we don’t see any difference.  Yet the business press often treats VC fundings as newsworthy while ignoring angel ones.  Thus did our fond hearts leap with joy last week when Dan Primack listed the following two fundings in his Fortune Term Sheet newsletter under venture capital deals.

Panjo, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based online marketplace for auto, sport and hobby enthusiasts, has raised $1.6 million in seed funding. Spark Capital led the round, and was joined by Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments, Lerer Ventures and Mesa. Panjo was created within the MuckerLAbs accelerator.

Crowdly, a Facebook-based advocate management platform, has raised more than $1.2 million in seed funding. Launchpad Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by New York Angels, Laconia Ventures and individual investors. Crowdly is based in Boston. 

Spark Capital is a Boston based VC firm that enjoys an excellent reputation.  Launchpad is a Boston based angel group that likewise enjoys an excellent reputation.  Our congratulations to Primack for leading the way toward pari passu press coverage. 

Three years after it pitched at TechStars demo day, Crowdly has pivoted and raised $1.2 million. Its earliest investors – angels Marcia Hooper (Ampersand, Advent, Castile, HooperLewis), Peter Clay (Gillette) and Jim Alvarez (Marketing Information and Technology Inc.) – are still along for the ride, as is TechStars. New investors include Launchpad Venture Group, New York Angels, and Laconia Ventures.

Reportedly,  after a very small initial raise, Crowdly's angel investors came back with $250,000 to carry it through about eight months of new product development and four months of beta testing. Input from early customers helped sell the story.

Crowdly allows companies to find, rank and connect with customers that are passionate advocates for their brands. The company's platform shows the lifetime influence of their top fans and a complete history of fans’ interactions over time
Heard on High

The Tech Coast Angels have led a new round of investment in Yalpert, a round that includes additional investment from Desert Angels, Pasadena Angels, and other independent angel investors. Yapert raised $500,000 during its initial Founders Round in 2012, bringing the funding total to $1.7 million. Yapert provides an interactive mobile magazine bringing fans the best video and image-based trending content from the visual web based on today’s most popular interests.

The St. Louis Arch Angels and other local  investors have teamed up  to lure a Rochester New York life sciences company to locate its production facilities in St. Louis. The Missouri Technology Corp. announced Thursday a $200,000 investment in a life sciences startup Adarza BioSystems Inc. Earlier this year Adarza received a matching investment from BioGenerator, an early stage capital fund based in St. Louis. In May, Adarza won a $50,000 Arch Grant. It also has received investments from the St. Louis Arch Angels and other local private investors. In addition, Adarza won a $1.8 million federal grant to help develop a prototype.

Rand Henke, one of Adarza’s co-founders and its chief executive, said the startup is “very excited about our expansion into St. Louis. The company is moving from the research phase in Rochester to the product phase of manufacturing and sales, which will be done in St. Louis,” he said. “We’ll be launching our first products next year, and we’re looking to set up our operations there.”

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