O.C. Angel Investors Reach Out to Startups

Posted by Jan Norman, small-business columnist on the Orange County Register

Irvine-based Tech Coast Angels, the nation's largest network of angel investors, has launched a 2010 initiative to increase entrepreneur support and mentoring.

"In today's constrained economy, entrepreneurs need easier access to viable sources of help and funding or America may lose some of its greatest potential success stories," says TCA Chairman Richard Sudek. "TCA is actively putting in place forums and methods for new promising Southern California companies to get the resources and guidance they need."

The group has already launched a series of "meet-the-angels" mixers. The events are free to entrepreneurs whether they're just thinking of a business idea or own an established company.

"These informal forums give us a chance to guide interested entrepreneurs in the types of innovation and company ideas TCA is looking for," Sudek says. "Equally important, it gives us a chance to listen to what entrepreneurs want and need."

The second initiative is the SeedTrack Program to make seed funding and extensive mentoring available to very early-stage enterprises, designed to nurture them to the point where they can receive angel and/or venture capital.

TCA is in the process of updating its web site offering simpler access to information, a new streamlined application process and enhanced resources and feedback capabilities.

"We want entrepreneurs to be encouraged by the process of contacting TCA, not overwhelmed," Sudek says.

"These programs are just the start of things to come," he adds. "We're always aware that some of America's most innovative and successful companies such as Google and Apple, were originally funded by angel investors. We take that responsibility seriously and we want all of our efforts to reflect a broad and deep commitment to entrepreneurship in Southern California."

Each area network will have similar activities led by their new presidents:

  • Stu Roberts, Orange County
  • Steve Flaim, San Diego
  • Scott Sangster, Los Angeles
  • John Tillquist, the Inland Empire
  • John Glanville and Jeff Kurfess, co-presidents, Santa Barbara

TCA's more than 250 members invest in companies in a wide range of industries, including the life sciences, biotech, information technology, services, retail, Internet, financial, software, media, consumer products and tech.

TCA members give companies more than just capital. They also provide counsel, mentoring and access to an extensive network of potential investors, customers, strategic partners and management talent.