ACA Education Bridges the Gap Between Startups and Angels

By: Emily Angold, ACA Marketing Manager

Education is necessary for growth in any profession, but it is vital for angel investors.  Without the tools needed to make smart investments, starting as an angel investor is challenging to say the least.  ACA offers many courses to help angels succeed, including one of the most popular programs, Fundamentals of Angel Investing.  Fundamentals of Angel Investing was created for members to introduce new angels and accredited investors to angel investing basics so they can start smart and further their angel investment knowledge. 

Drew Peyronnin, Entrepreneur in Residence at the Purdue Foundry at WestGate, active angel and founder of EVVangelist, LLC (a chapter of the Purdue Angel Network), recently hosted ACA’s Fundamentals of Angel Investing for the Purdue Foundry’s “First Tuesdays” event.  First Tuesdays is designed for innovators across the state to gather at WestGate to connect and share insights, best practices and content.  Learn more about Drew’s experience and how the ACA education will help align the expectations between angels and startups while increasing the odds of successful returns.

What is your angel investing background?

My experience as an angel investor goes back about 25 years to my first investment, which ended not too long after in a complete loss.  More than a decade later, my second investment came through my alma mater, Purdue University, and helped connect me to the very vibrant ecosystem around the university.  Our area in Southern Indiana was slightly behind the curve launching innovation based startups and developing the ecosystem, but we have worked very hard to change that.  In 2017 Purdue launched a second location of its highly successful Foundry program as the Purdue Foundry@WestGate near the Crane Navy base.  I serve as an Entrepreneur in Residence for the Foundry.  In the past two years our location has served 72 clients in our startup accelerator program.

We joke that WestGate is in the middle of nowhere, but is the Center of everything. We are located in Indiana’s most rural county but are adjacent to a Naval base with the majority of its nearly 7,000 people working in applied research.  A few hundred yards away is the Battery Innovation Center, one of the world’s preeminent energy storage research facilities.  Within a 90 minute drive we have Indianapolis, Louisville, Evansville and Bloomington with strengths in life sciences, medical devices, agri-biosciences, cyber and top research universities like Indiana University.  Our First Tuesday initiative seeks to shepherd serendipity by bringing an incredibly diverse range of people together once each month.  We open our coworking space, roll out free food and fill the day with content focused on a new topic each month.

We know that the startups with whom we work simply can’t succeed without access to capital.  We were interested in bringing ACA’s Fundamentals of Angel Investing to our area for First Tuesday.  We sought to boost our efforts in startup acceleration by educating startups and investors, together in the same room, on how angel investors operate through a structured curriculum.  The 8/6 event featured the ACA Fundamentals of Angel Investing course, led by instructor Steve Baggot, followed by one minute pitches from six selected startups.  We wanted to mend the disconnect between startup founders’ expectations and reality while also teaching new investors about the angel investing process.

Steve Baggot leads the discussion during Fundamentals of Angel Investment on August 6, 2019.

What were you hoping to gain from hosting and participating in Fundamentals of Angel Investing?

The first goal we were hoping to achieve was to gain a better regional awareness for potential angels of investment opportunities and introduce them to the process of angel investing.  We also wanted to educate startup company founders and aspiring founders on how to approach investors in earnest to raise money.  Our region has seen an explosion of investable innovation-based startups tied to the efforts of the Purdue Foundry and many others.  We consistently see a disconnect between the expectations of founders and the investors who could fund them.  Bringing those groups together for a world-class educational workshop on angel investing should be a catalyst for aligning the expectations of both and, we hope, lead to far greater investment in far better companies.

How was the experience?

I have attended ACA events in the past and have been really impressed with the caliber of the content, so I had very high expectations going in to the Fundamentals of Angel Investing program.  I was concerned that it could be repetitious for members of our angel group who had seen the webinar on the same topic, but this was not the case.  The content was absolutely first rate.  What really made the program unique and valuable were the members of the panel who shared their experiences. 

What was the biggest takeaway from the course?

The biggest surprise was that I knew the participants of the panel prior to the program, but I don’t have enough fingers to count the takeaways they provided!  It is remarkable how many conversations you can have with colleagues in the angel investing/startup ecosystem space, but there are always more learning experiences they can share which can be a huge revelation.  Steve’s skills as a facilitator made the interviews and panel extraordinary.

Panelists examine key topics and share investment experience during the program. 

Did the other participants find the information presented in Fundamentals of Angel Investing to be valuable?

Yes!  I had many conversations with attendees, and everyone thought it was very well done and definitely worth their time.

How will what you learned benefit your group?

Expectations of angel investors and founders of startup companies in our area will be more aligned.  I believe that the knowledge accessible through the course and the information that the Angel Capital Association offers is so important towards guiding the decision making process for angels.  If someone is interested in angel investing, they need to be a member of ACA.  I would absolutely attend other education programs offered by ACA, I could not be happier with all aspects of the workshop. 

If you are interested in hosting an ACA education program in your area, please contact Heather Krejci for more information or visit our website to learn more about the program offerings.