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Tech Coast Angels Partners With Bridges To Italy To Mentor Entrepreneurs And Share Business Model

TCA Chairman to Keynote at International Conference and Participate in Mentoring Program and Award, Empowering Entrepreneurs and Investors on Both Sides of the Atlantic

IRVINE, Calif., June 14, 2011 – Tech Coast Angels (TCA), the angel investment network known for its mentoring and development of entrepreneurial companies in Southern California, today announced it will extend its mentoring and educational capabilities to entrepreneurs in Southern Italy through a partnership with Italian-American non-profit organization Bridges to Italy. Mike Napoli, TCA chairman, will serve as the keynote speaker at its conference on June 20, 2011 at the TechNest incubator at the University of Calabria (Rende), and will present on the topic, “Fundraising: Is Your Company Ready for U.S. Investors?” The conference aims to raise awareness among international angel investors and venture capitalists of Southern Italy’s high-tech potential.

“I’m thrilled to speak with the top entrepreneurs and investors in Southern Italy and have the opportunity to help them understand the American funding process, the ways that start-ups are judged by investors, and the issues angel investors look at in the U.S., so that I can help attendees improve their funding potential,” said Mike Napoli, chairman of TCA.

Napoli will gauge investment opportunities among Southern Italy’s leading entrepreneurial businesses, in areas including but not limited to renewable energy, nano-materials, biotech, and information technology. Napoli will evaluate business ideas from fifteen research groups and entrepreneurs from a broad cross section of Southern Italy. All participants have been admitted to Brains in Motion, the executive training program launched by Bridges to Italy to cultivate American-style business skills and stimulate a global entrepreneurial attitude among Italian researchers.

Italian participants will enjoy a unique opportunity: after completing an e-learning program offered by Bridges to Italy in conjunction with the University of California, Irvine, they will put their newly acquired skills to work at once by making presentations directly to Napoli and other angel investor members of TCA, which has recently been ranked by PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Shaking the Money Tree as the leading investment group in Southern California and is the largest angel investment network in the United States.

With five regional networks in Southern California and over 250 members, Tech Coast Angels in 2010 funded more than thirty new high-tech companies and invested over $40 million, both within its membership and through synergies with other venture-capital organizations.

“Although venture capital and expertise are the key drivers of high-tech sector growth in the U.S., approaching top American investors is still a complicated process, especially for entrepreneurs based overseas,” says Bianca Dellepiane, the founder and President of Bridges to Italy. “Complications grow exponentially for innovators based in Southern Italy, where networking opportunities are fewer compared with elsewhere in Italy and Europe. For this reason, we thought it important to hold this meeting in Calabria instead of Milan or Rome, to promote awareness of the region and establish a dialogue between a leading American investing group and the highly talented research teams involved in Brains in Motion, our executive training program. Our investors are also looking forward to meeting with Mike to learn more about the successful TCA business model and to see how it can be emulated and integrated into the investment process in this region.”

Continued Napoli, “I’m looking forward to meeting with and mentoring entrepreneurs and investors from Southern Italy and to sharing the TCA business model globally to help expand the opportunity for startups in Italy to obtain funding in today’s market.”

Cooperation between Tech Coast Angels and Bridges to Italy will continue in Southern California, where the winner of the Brains in Motion competition will be selected by a panel of experts including the president of Enel North America and members of Tech Coast Angels. The winner will be awarded the opportunity to present at networking events at each of the five Tech Coast Angels locations in Southern California.

“This sort of networking marathon is expected to greatly increase visibility and investing opportunities for the winning entrepreneur, who will meet, in just five days, hundreds of potential investors and business partners. The result will be the kind of amplified exposure that no Italian start-up has ever enjoyed — and, indeed, that is almost unheard of even for U.S. start-ups,” adds Ms. Dellepiane.

The Bridges to Italy meeting will take place at the TechNest incubator launched by the University of Calabria in late 2010 as a part of a strategy fostering innovation as a key element in the region’s economic growth. Participants will be welcomed by Riccardo Barberi, technology transfer officer of the University of Calabria and coordinator of the CRESCITA program (“Knowledge, research, and development for the launching in Calabria of high-tech companies”); Giovanni Latorre, the Provost of the University; Renato Pastore, the President of Confindustria, the Italian employers’ association; and the President of the Italian branch of Bridges to Italy, Domenico Quaglio.

“Southern Italy and Southern California today enjoy even closer ties in the areas of higher education, knowledge and innovation. This is the goal that the Italian branch of Bridges to Italy has been pursuing since its launch in Rende last year,” says Mr. Quaglio. “Now, along with our local Italian partners — the University of Calabria’s TechNest incubator, the Paolo di Tarso Foundation, and the Mediterranean Foundation — we are strongly committed to highlighting the technological assets of these southern regions by bringing together a highly qualified scientific regional network and the very competitive U.S. market that Bridges to Italy can help entrepreneurs approach in effective ways, thanks to its presence in Los Angeles, California.”