The Bellingham Business Journal
Members of the Bellingham Angel Group have used a number of strategies to combat the recession over the past year. Despite the current economy, this was its highest investment year ever. Aggregated member investment figures for 2009 totaled a record $3.256 million.
The Bellingham Angels, founded in 2005, is a local group of investors dedicated to providing equity capital to early and mid-stage entrepreneurial companies in the Pacific Northwest with emphasis in Whatcom, Skagit and Island Counties.
“We creatively adapted our investment strategies this past year to meet the changing economy.” said Bruce MacCormack, chairman of the Bellingham Angel Group. “In many instances, diversification of members’ portfolios was facilitated by lower funding levels in a greater variety of investments. This included individual investments, co-investing with another angel group in the region, investing in a ‘Managed Fund’ or sometimes forming a specific LLC in which several angels could jointly fund a company. Each of these strategies played a role in making this our strongest year yet.”
Entrepreneurs apply for angel funding consideration by online application on the Bellingham Angels’ Web site. Applicants are screened and up to 18 companies a year are selected to present at the bi-monthly Angel meetings. Outside of these meetings, members can search the online database to review companies that applied for funding but were unsuccessful in the screening process.
“Such significant investment in companies that applied for funding, but that did not actually present to members, is an interesting new phenomenon,” MacCormack said. “It shows that our members are willing to do some research to find an opportunity that attracts them on a purely personal level.”
As well as ‘Managed Fund’ investments, another trend among members in 2009 was to reinvest in companies which they had previously funded, more often than they chose to invest in new deals. This can be attributed to the success these companies have seen as they demonstrated they can navigate through the recession as well as the desire of angels to safeguard and reinforce their original investment.
After a very active five years of investing, members of the Bellingham Angels are anticipating strong returns on investment in 2010.
Indeed, a recent Bellingham Angels member survey indicates a promising outlook for this year, as individual investment expectations increased. Angels are likely to continue investing smaller amounts of money in an increasingly diversified portfolio.
“We will remain an active source of support for early-stage companies,” MacCormack said. “The milestone we achieved in 2009 clearly shows our members’ increasing maturity and confidence in the power of angel investing. They understand that their active involvement helps create successful companies, providing more jobs in our community, which is especially important to our recovering economy.”
Membership in the Bellingham Angel Group is by invitation only. Learn more about the Bellingham Angels by visiting their Web site.