A Future Worth Creating: Fiscal Year Recap and Vision for Tomorrow

By: Pat Gouhin, Chief Executive Officer

As the fiscal year draws to a close, we are taking a moment to celebrate our accomplishments in these unprecedented times – and we’re charting a course to create a powerful future. 

“The best way to predict the future is to create it,” as Abraham Lincoln once said. The future of our economies and our communities is at stake. We are grappling with healthcare challenges, irreversibly disrupted industries, millions of underemployed workers, and devastating racial and gender inequities.

More than ever, we need innovation. We need ingenuity. We need risk-takers and difference-makers.

We need angels.

Angels are nimble, identifying and supporting entrepreneurs with desperately needed new technologies and innovations. Angels empower growth and solutions, right here, right now – we can exponentially grow economies at a local and regional level. Our investor community drives holistic wealth creation, leveraging dollars invested with the significant time and expertise that we commit to our budding ventures.

ACA represents more than 250 angel groups and 14,000 angel investors. Over the past 15 years, ACA has grown membership by more than 600%. We’ve become the most active public policy supporter for early and seed stage investing in the United States. Our members and groups are the most significant source of support for entrepreneurs, investing more than 1 million pro bono hours and $600 million of after-tax financing to more than 3,000 high growth companies annually.

Together, we can empower contributors of all races, genders, and backgrounds to turn disruption and division into creation and abundance – for all.

Ours is a future worth creating, and we are ready to roll up our sleeves and answer the call.

We will grow the angel investor community by expanding our strategic work in four key areas:

  • Community Networking
  • Data Analytics & Insights
  • Education & Smart Practices
  • Public Policy

Community Networking

Why it matters: Powerful and diverse networks of angels facilitate efficient, profitable, and equitable investments.

What we’ve done: One part of our work in creating a powerful community is nurturing the angel investors we currently serve. Pre-pandemic, ACA held a series of regional events throughout North America and one global event each year to build relationships, increase deal flow and syndication, and deliver top-quality educational sessions to angel investors. For the last two years, we’ve held a virtual global summit with a full program of expert speakers, insightful peer-to-peer discussions, and networking opportunities. This year, our incoming board chair launched a brand-new angel investing podcast called Angels Live – giving us a great platform for bringing our community together with powerful interviews and discussions about the future of angel investing.

Creating a meaningful angel community also includes growing and diversifying our membership and the angel investment community at large. In our quest to bring new angels into our community, we’ve opened our membership to angels outside of North America, and we’ve created an educational series called “Demystifying Angel Investing.” We’ve developed targeted programming and outreach, partnering with strong female- and minority-led investment groups to continue moving the needle on diversity and inclusion in angel investing.

What’s next: Together, we are better… and ACA will continue to bring angels of all backgrounds together for the greater good. We are looking forward to meeting face-to-face again at ACA 2022: The Summit of Angel Investing in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in May, with an expanded Innovation Funders Showcase. In the coming months, our volunteer-led Syndication Task Force will be working to develop plans for a national syndication process and platform. Our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force will be laser focused on developing programs to help under-represented communities benefit from and explore the possibilities of angel investing. We will also be developing resources for economic development agencies and groups interested in starting angel networks to drive economic growth.

Data Analytics & Insights

Why it matters: Meaningful data empowers investment decisions, improving guidance to entrepreneurs and driving better outcomes.

What we’ve done: ACA’s groundbreaking American Angel report, the first in-depth US study of individual angel investors, continues to be a renowned resource. Each year, we publish a deep and comprehensive set of data in our Angel Funders Report, showcasing trends and leading indicators.

What’s next: We will be expanding and honing our data initiatives with our annual Angel Funders Report and developing new analysis tools to help you evaluate prospective deals and investment performance.

Education & Smart Practices

Why it matters: Giving angels a common language and access to knowledge and tools enables us to refine the wheel instead of reinventing it, and makes angel investing approachable for new investors.

What we’ve done: Through in-person and virtual workshops, webinars, online knowledge centers, and our world-class Angel University curriculum, we’ve delivered quality educational resources covering fundamentals, valuation, optimizing performance, and much more.

What’s next: ACA Angel University continues to grow, with two new courses on risk assessment and exits debuting soon. We are also building specialized tools for group leaders and ramping up a publications program to showcase smart practices from around the community. 

Public Policy

Why it matters: A powerful policy voice creates the best possible environment for angel investors and entrepreneurs to thrive and grow.

What we’ve done: ACA advocates for members in Washington, D.C. and locally on key issues that impact angel investors. ACA has successfully stopped outside efforts to increase financial thresholds for accredited investors, enabling more individuals to qualify as angel investors. We’ve increased the number of investors in small angel funds and syndicates from 99 to 249, and we’ve defeated measures to tax employee stock options at vesting. We’ve also worked to keep the 100% tax exemption on capital gains in qualified small business stock and advocated for startups to continue their ability to apply up to $250,000 in R&D credits to their payroll taxes vs. income taxes.

What’s next: Advocating for policy outcomes in the US is a never-ending effort and we will continue our push on public policy fronts, representing the best interests of both angels and entrepreneurs. 

We are growing, with purpose – and you should join us.

Angel investing is the catalyst for widespread prosperity… and ACA is the catalyst for successful angels. We are in a season of opportunity, and if we seize it, we can empower entrepreneurs to build companies, create jobs, and grow our economy. We can play a major role in developing the transformational technology that moves society forward. We can lead the way in embracing neglected talent of all races and genders, embracing the diversity that makes us stronger.

Help us create the future. Now is the time!

Patrick Gouhin

Chief Executive Officer

Angel Capital Association