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ASU Alumni launch new angel investor group in Arizona

April 11, 2012

A new angel investor group, The Biltmore Angels, has been formed by a local group composed of Arizona State University alumni to invest in startups and early stage companies in Scottsdale and the greater Phoenix area. There will also be opportunities for members to invest in high-potential startups and early stage companies from all over the State. The Biltmore Angels group was founded to help improve the level of early stage capital available to startups in Arizona. The Biltmore Angels will also be a preferred source for ASU Venture Catalyst to provide investment opportunities for ASU spinouts and select client companies of the Venture Catalyst program. 

"Lack of access to early stage capital has been an age-old problem in Arizona for most of our home grown start-ups", said Charlie Lewis, founding principal of Biltmore Angels. "We look forward to providing a new venue for our State's most promising companies to showcase their wares in front of active Arizona investors". 

The Biltmore Angels is comprised of leaders in the Phoenix startup and investment space. 

Tom Connelly, President and Chief Investment Officer of Versant Capital Management, Inc , is a veteran in the Arizona investment arena with over 25 years of senior management experience at investment advisory firms.  Mr. Connelly currently serves on the  Board of Trustees of the Arizona State Retirement System (ASRS) and Chairs the Investment Committee.  

Charlie Lewis, Vice President of Venture Development for Arizona Technology Enterprises (AzTE), ASU’s technology transfer organization, brings an extensive knowledge of new venture development and company growth.  After graduating from ASU, Lewis was a founding partner in a technology start-up which was acquired and has also been a partner in two venture capital funds.  He currently manages the creation and launch of new companies that are founded upon discoveries developed at ASU. 

Michael Hool, Managing Partner of the Hool Law Group, has spent the last 20 years practicing law in Arizona focused primarily on securities, finance and venture capital, mergers and acquisitions for start-ups, and emerging growth companies.  Mr. Hool graduated from the Sandra Day O’Conner School of Law at ASU. 

“We look forward to engaging investors who have not previously been involved in organized angel investing processes.” said Hool.  “The idea of the Biltmore Angels is to provide another forum to connect not-previously engaged investors with each other and to the other state and regional angel groups for collaborative investments”.  

An initial meeting of the investors’ group has already proved successful.  With over 40 investors in attendance, the first Biltmore Angels meeting set the tone for an increased awareness of investment opportunities in the area as well as creating a plan to continue to increase the member base.   The Biltmore Angels intend to collaborate with other angel groups in Arizona, as well as capitalizing on connections that the founders have with Silicon Valley angel groups and other sources of financing.

“The formation of the Biltmore Angels is an incredible opportunity for startups in Arizona,” said Gordon McConnell, Executive Director of ASU Venture Catalyst, an early partner of the Biltmore Angels group. “Every client that the Venture Catalyst team works with needs assistance with finding and accessing funding and by partnering with the Biltmore Angels we will be able to provide those needed angel investment opportunities for our startups.  That is an incredible value-add to the startup scene in Arizona.” 

ASU Venture Catalyst is the ASU unit that works with high-potential startup companies, both inside and outside the university, including managing the Edson program, ASU’s student startup accelerator. Venture Catalyst and ASU SkySong are both strategic units of ASU’s Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development.