Angel investor and Owen Prof Germain Boer encourages, but keeps an ear cocked for trouble
This afternoon, during a public meeting in a Cummins Station conference room, three tech entrepreneurs will present their businesses to angel investors assembled by Angel Capital Group, the middle-Tennessee node of a fledgling investor network.
ACG Founder-CEO Rachael Qualls' open-door policy has become something of a hallmark since ACG held a similar forum May 22 at Belmont University.
Presenters during today's 3 p.m. event include Patrick Hunt, founder of Modern Sprocket (Knoxville); Doug and Joyce Little, who will describe Cybervision Text, and who own Key2ed Inc. (Franklin); and, Marc Finch, president and CEO of OptiVia Medical (Winston Salem).
Asked to comment on the openness of today's event, Germain Böer, director of the Owen Entrepreneurship Center at Vanderbilt University and a close observer of the local angel scene, told VNC, "First of all, I commend Rachel for what she is trying to do. She, in my opinion, is trying to bring an approach to angel investing that is much more like a public market, in which there is lots of transparency and a reliance on standard processes for looking at deals. If she can make it work,that will be great."
Böer's caveats for entrepreneurs participating in publoic forums included remaining mindful that competitors and others with conflicts of interest may be in the room. He said that even though it may mean actual potential investors in the audience "may get too little information to get them interested in the new business idea," today's presenters should be "careful to not reveal too much..."
Fortunately, today isn't the first rodeo for these three entrepreneurs. During the May 22 meeting, Finch outlined the arduous process and multiple presentations he has made in recent years. Key2ed, Inc. is also known to have had outside investors and lenders. And, Patrick Hunt's Modern Sprocket and his older company, Strategux, have been on the investor circuit, with Strategux periodically receiving assistance from such private-equity advisors as Tennetic Ventures, a Knoxville-based investor and business advisor.
Böer, a 31-year member of the Owen faculty, noted that while such forums can be valuable, they are no substitute for more intimate private meetings. He said investors need opportunities to evaluate closely "the character of the individual entrepreneur and the chemistry between the two of us." He added, "An entrepreneur of the highest character who does not have good chemistry with me will not get my money. And it is not because of the entrepreneur; I know that there will be difficult times with almost any investment, and I do not want to start off a relationship with bad chemistry. It just makes it harder later to work out tough issues."
Today's meeting is in the 4th-floor conference room of Cummins Station, 209 10th Ave., (37203).