Celebrating 2021 Accomplishments and Looking Ahead to New Opportunities

By: Pat Gouhin, Chief Executive Officer

During each year’s transition to the next, we take the chance to reflect on the accomplishments and challenges of the past, but our focus remains on the future. The Angel Capital Association is moving into a confident, secure future, because of the successes we’ve had and the way we’ve navigated the last two years. We owe a debt of gratitude to our tireless volunteers and professional staff for their leadership, expertise, and dedication to our mission. Without you, none of our accomplishments would have been possible, and our hope for the future would be unfounded. More importantly, without you, our economy would be weakened, and society’s ability to innovate would be stunted.

In fact, ACA members and groups are the most significant source of support for entrepreneurs, investing more than 1 million pro bono hours and $650 million of after-tax financing to more than 3,000 high growth companies annually. ACA’s angel groups made more investments in more companies despite the pandemic –continuing to risk personal capital to jumpstart businesses and ignite economies. Without this support, many early-stage companies wouldn’t get off the ground. Fostering these entrepreneurs and the economies they impact is a direct result of ACA’s mission to fuel the success of angel investor community. ACA members and groups enjoy unprecedented education and networking opportunities, brought to them by the trusted authority in angel investing.

2022 promises to be another exciting year, with new educational opportunities, additional networking and community building events, and the official launch of our Angel Investor Foundation, a wholly owned subsidiary organization that will focus on advancing the arts and sciences of angel investing.

ACA’s Four Pillars: Bringing ACA’s Mission to Life

Community Networking

The heartbeat of our community networking pillar is our diversity, equity, and inclusion effort. We believe in creating a welcoming, supportive environment for all, especially underrepresented groups. In 2021, ACA launched its first formal DEI Task Force, made up of a diverse group of ACA members, board leaders, and ecosystem champions. The DEI Task Force has developed and published a formal ACA DEI Policy and set its strategic goals for 2022.

2021 was a year filled with more opportunities for angels to interact and learn. For brand new angels, ACA launched the first-ever New Angel Cohort. The New Angel Cohort is a six-month program powered by Melissa Bradley’s 1863 Ventures and BLK GRVTY, and it’s designed for new investors who want to explore angel investing with tools, education, and experts at their fingertips.

For every level of experience, ACA’s peer groups, events, and education courses offer unprecedented opportunities for angels to preview and connect in real time with companies, other investors, and economic development partners. Our regional and national events this year included the 2021 Fall Forum live event in Philadelphia, and the 2021 ACA Summit of Angel Investing hybrid conference in Portland. In 2022, we are planning an incredible, live event, ACA 2022: The Summit of Angel Investing, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Our events all feature a rejuvenated and refined version of our Innovation Funders Showcase, with broader outreach aid all member groups in deal flow, increasing the value of the program for early-stage companies and angels alike.  

In between all the virtual and in-person opportunities to connect, ACA is excited to offer the Angel Next Door Podcast, a show about how people get started investing in startup companies. Hosted by Marcia Dawood, current chair of the board, the podcast explores how people are changing the world by creating and investing in innovation.

Data Analytics & Insights

In 2018, ACA launched its data initiative to help early-stage investors make better investment decisions, and to help the business community better understand angel investing’s impact on new business formation, job growth, and economic prosperity. The initiative also helps entrepreneurs gain a deeper understanding of how and why angels invest, helping them prepare for raising capital and building strong investor relationships.

The Angel Funders Report is based on direct investment data solicited from all ACA member groups. We collect data directly so that we can provide powerful first-hand information on the current state of early stage investing. Our angel investing experts analyze and enhance the data with their knowledge of trends and best practices, developing a comprehensive insider’s view to share with the broader investment community. The angel organizations that provide the information for this report take many forms—groups of ACA members, angel networks, angel funds, networks with sidecar funds, and more. The Angel Funders Report 2020 has been read in 108 countries, proving its unique value to the investing ecosystem.

In addition to the Angel Funders Report, ACA also publishes other studies and reports based on the latest trends, news, and global shifts that impact angel investing. One example is the recently published ACA Investor Insights Report, filled with key learnings on angel investing and portfolio returns.

Education & Smart Practices

ACA has created and curated best-in-class knowledge about angel investing since its formation, but only in the last several years has this knowledge been formatted into commercially viable education products. ACA’s education offerings are headlined by a series of nine courses for angel investors and entrepreneurs, known as Ann and Bill Payne ACA Angel University. In 2021, ACA added two new courses on risks and exits, resulting in a sharp increase in enrollment. In a few short years, Ann and Bill Payne ACA Angel University has offered tens of thousands of student course hours and has trained thousands of practicing angels.

ACA’s content, recognized by angel leaders for its excellence, has also been delivered via other formats, including webinars, lectures, white papers, and reports, expanding ACA’s impact on new and seasoned angel investors and entrepreneurs. In 2021, ACA launched Angel Insights Publications, peer-reviewed resources from angel experts around the world, expanding angel access to knowledge and trend interpretation.

 In 2022, it’s ACA’s goal to reach more accredited investors with our powerful step by step education programs and bring more entrepreneurs and angels together as a result. We will debut a new community-based program to help community champions to support creating new angel organizations.

Public Policy

ACA continues to focus on key public policy issues for investors, in addition to providing expertise about today’s most critical topics. Leveraging our members’ expertise during this challenging period, we have moved quickly to provide forums how to cope, survive, and succeed during the pandemic crisis. We provided information and resources from the government and others to help ensure that PPP loans and other funds were available to entrepreneurs and start-ups. We are also actively pursuing several grants with partners like TechTown in Detroit. These grants would tap into federal funds, such as the Economic Development Agency’s build to scale program, to bring ACA education to ecosystem builders across the country.

In 2021, we formed a multi-member coalition, setting up dozens of congressional meetings to educate and advocate for retaining current IRC Section 1202 provisions on QSBS. More detail on this important issue and other public policy priorities is provided on our website

2022 Promises to be an Incredible Year: Get Involved

The future of our economies and our communities is at stake, today and into the future. We are grappling with healthcare challenges, irreversibly disrupted industries, millions of underemployed workers, and devastating racial and gender inequities. We are also face-to-face with unprecedented opportunities to harness technology, advances, and ingenuity.

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

We need you! Take advantage of ACA’s many opportunities to get involved. Thank you to our growing membership of active investors for actively creating a more innovative world. We can’t wait to increase our support for your growth and investing.  For those new to ACA, join the organization and take advantage of valuable member benefits or register for an upcoming event or course. We can’t wait to meet you and connect you to our incredible network of angels, investing ecosystem players, and early-stage companies.