The Boise Angel Alliance (BAA) is ten years old. During those years the BAA formed three angel funds with total capital of nearly $4 million. To date, these funds have invested $2.1 million in the stock of nineteen Treasure Valley companies. As of June 30, these companies have created more than 300 jobs since we invested in them.
During this ten-year period we have been active in mentoring local entrepreneurs prior to their applying for funding with us. But, under the leadership of our new president, Mary Andrews, we have recently announced a shift in our strategy. We will no longer mentor entrepreneurs before they apply to us. Here’s why.
1. The Treasure Valley has lots of support for entrepreneurs. There are many entrepreneurial service providers available to help entrepreneurs including SCORE, the Idaho Small Business Development Center, the Women’s’ Business Center, Zion’s Bank Business Center, the Tech Connect, Startup Grind, and Activate Boise. We don’t need to offer mentoring services any longer because there are others focused on providing this service.
2. Our mission is to help angels. We know there are lots of people in the valley who have the financial capability to make investments in early-stage private companies. But most don’t do so. We want to help these people learn how to make these types of investments using current best practices. We do this by organizing angel funds and through our education program. To the extent we spend our time mentoring entrepreneurs, we have less time to help our existing and prospective angels.
3. Mentoring by investors can be problematic. Sometimes our angels work with pre-funding entrepreneurs, only to later turn them down when they apply for funding. Naturally this can confuse the entrepreneurs and not infrequently causes anger.
The BAA is modifying its business processes to match this change in strategy. Here’s how the new model will work.
1. Train those organizations that support entrepreneurs. On July 31 we are holding a training session for service providers that are interested in assisting entrepreneurs who may seek funding from local angels including our funds. If you are a service provider and would like to attend, please let the BAA know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Refer entrepreneurs to the service providers. Our web site will be changed to encourage potential applicants to first seek the counsel of one of the local service providers. Of course, entrepreneurs may apply directly to us without seeking such counsel, but our experience is many who do so file not well thought-through applications and rarely receive funding.
3. Encourage service providers to serve as an advocate for the entrepreneurs. If a service provider is working with an applicant for funding, the service provider will be invited to attend our screening meetings with the entrepreneur. In this manner, the service provider will serve as another set of eyes and ears for the entrepreneur as we engage with them.
Interested service providers and entrepreneurs can learn more about the process from our web site: www.boiseangelalliance.com
Disclosure: I am past-president of the Boise Angel Alliance, a principle in Loon Creek Capital that provides administrative services to the Boise Angel Alliance and its funds, and am an investor in all three angel funds.