The corner where East and West Center streets in Mebane meet has seen both the rise and the fall of North Carolina’s old-line manufacturing economy.

That economy is gone now, but finally something is ready to take its place at that same spot in downtown Mebane. The former White Furniture factory, dubbed by the history books as the oldest furniture factory in the South, has been bought by investors who plan to turn the old 300,000-square-foot building, with its soaring ceilings and vast expanses of windows, into a combination of retail, dining and recreation uses plus living space for as many as 300 new residents.

“We don’t really have anything like this — it would be an entirely new kind of venture for our downtown,” says Mebane Mayor Glendel Stephenson, who met with the developers about a week ago to talk about their plans.

“We’ve been developing rapidly over the last few years and we’ve got a lot of active merchants, and we’re getting new restaurants and such, but bringing in 300 people to live downtown would really bring some new life to it,” Stephenson says.

It seems only fair that Mebane breathe some new life into the old building, because White Furniture in no small way brought Mebane itself to life. Established on that same site next to the railroad tracks in 1881, the same year the little town of Mebanesville was incorporated, the “White of Mebane” brand became known as one of the top-quality furniture names in the industry, and inseparable from its home.

“In its heyday, it really was the town,” says Cathy Davidson, an English professor at Duke University whose book “Closing: The Life and Death of an American Factory” chronicled the factory’s fate up to what was recently thought its end (with poignant photographs from Mebane native Bill Bamberger). “Others like Kingsdown have come in too, but there was time when, if you moved to Mebane, it was to work at White Furniture. Even as the town became a bedroom for RTP, everybody there still knew somebody who worked at the factory.”

The White family controlled the business for more than a century, finally selling to Hickory Manufacturing to form the modern company Hickory White in 1985. The factory lasted just eight years into that new era — the shutdown in 1993 cost 203 people their jobs.

Shutdowns and layoffs would become an epidemic in the furniture industry in the years to follow, as the pressure to reduce costs moved most of the wood manufacturing overseas. But the closure of the White plant 15 years ago was a bellwether, Hicks says.

“That was probably the beginning of the end,” she says. “There had been closings before and many more after, but when the oldest factory shuts down, that means something.”

The historic building has been used for little more than storage since the closure, but the sad story told about White Furniture and repeated in countless mill towns in the East since then has proven an opportunity for Tom Niemann, the CEO of Niemann Capital, who will lead the renovation project.

Niemann did not return a call seeking comment after the property sale was finalized, but he told The Business Journal last summer that he planned to spend about $30 million on the Mebane project. At that time he had been expecting to get started on construction by last month, so the timeline appears to be slipping by at least a little bit.

That’s not unexpected in a major historic renovation, and probably nothing Niemann isn’t used to. In addition to the big Civic Plaza project in downtown Winston-Salem, which itself has taken years to get started and is still in some degree of limbo, Niemann has made something of a specialty of turning old industrial sites into new mixed-use developments.

The first phase of West Village in Durham, for example, uses 350,000 square feet of old tobacco warehouses for residential, retail and office space and will eventually add nearly a million more square feet.

Niemann has worked in other states as well, including Maine where his firm turned an abandoned cotton mill into a riverside live-work “creative center.”

When towns like Mebane spring up around manufacturing sites, a plant closure can leave a big hole in a community, says Rodney Swink, the director of the Main Street Center at the N.C. Department of Commerce. That makes efforts like the one planned for the White factory especially valuable — both for boosting the town but also preserving the past.

An abandoned building is an eyesore, but a “Here once stood …” plaque isn’t much to get excited about either.

Preserving a building and turning it into an economic asset again is “very exciting” when it works, Swink says, but it’s still too early in the life of most of the projects that have taken place so far to gauge whether or not they’ll all survive long-term. He wasn’t aware of any outright failures of completed projects.

But it still takes more than a little bravery to buy a huge old building in a relatively small town and hope the real estate market can absorb all the new space and still provide a profit, especially in a teetering economy.

Maybe it will work in Mebane and maybe it won’t, but Swink says in the case of White Furniture and the town it built, it’s worth a try.

“Going in with this kind of scale can kind of be seen as defying the market, but it can also be so bold that it helps to establish and create a market,” Swink says.

Tech time in Winston-Salem

This coming week (March 24-28) will be busy on the technology scene in Winston-Salem. In addition to the N.C. Nano Conference (see story, page 6), a whole series of events collectively dubbed “Funding the Future Week” will be taking place.

Also on the agenda: The Chamber of Commerce’s annual Technology Briefing, which gives a number of young companies a chance to step into the spotlight for a moment to explain how they’ll change the world.

The week will also feature a “Capital Symposium and Information Exchange” at Wake Forest, as well the famous “Elevator Competition” business plan challenge at Wake’s Babcock School.

Last but not least, the Piedmont Angel Network is hosting the Southeast Angel Conference, happening partly alongside the Nanoconference. The Angel Conference will draw more than 60 investors representing 20 funds from as far away as Boston to hear pitches from 14 companies (and probably a lot more during cocktail hour).

Most of the events of the week are already regular occurrences in the Triad, and PAN fund director Troy Knauss says the way the Angel Conference is coming together, we may see it here again too.

“If we pull this off, I truly believe that we can make this an annual event,” Knauss says.

There’s more information about all the week’s events at

Forget the diet

A sweet treat will be arriving in Old Salem this spring. Mayberry Ice Cream plans to open a shop above the more than two-century-old Winkler Bakery by the end of April.

The space was home to a since-closed soda shop. The new Mayberry shop will offer sandwiches, hot dogs, milkshakes, ice cream cones and hot fudge sundaes, among other items, said Eric Hoyle, vice president of finance and chief administrative officer at Old Salem.

With seating for 35 to 40, the new store will bring a food spot to the north end of the historic district, which as been missing a place to eat for years, Hoyle said. There are food offerings at the visitors’ center and the Salem Tavern, but the new location will mean people don’t have to walk up and down campus to grab a quick bite to eat, he said.

Hoyle said the new location will get a boost from Winkler Bakery, which saw sales increase more than 20 percent last fiscal year and has been working to improve food quality, among other things, Hoyle said.

“Having the soda shop will bring even more traffic,” he said.

Yoga with a purpose

For cancer patients, peacefulness is not a feeling associated with uncertain diagnoses and draining treatments. But that sense of calm can be a powerful palliative, according to research done by a Wake Forest University researcher, with the help of a Winston-Salem yoga teacher.

Suzanne Danhauer, a researcher and clinician at the Comprehensive Cancer Center of Wake Forest University, worked with Lynn Felder, owner of The Arts of Yoga, in 2006-2007 to study the effects of the ancient Eastern practice on cancer patients.

The results are encouraging: Women who participated in a 75-minute class once a week for 10 weeks reported lower levels of fatigue and “higher levels of social well-being, and feeling calm and peaceful,” Danhauer said.

The findings are not surprising to Felder, who is an ovarian cancer survivor. After a lifetime of sports and dance, Felder found herself buckled by the effects of cancer treatment. “Yoga ended up being a great way for me to get my body back. Yoga is so patient.”

Lead item: Matt Evans. Contributors: Laura Youngs, Lane Harvey Brown. Reach Justin Catanoso at (336) 370-2896 or His business reports can he heard Fridays on WFMY-News 2 at 6:35 a.m. and WFDD-88.5 FM at 7:35 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

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Angel deal-maker offers advice for entrepreneurs ahead of Wichita speech

Emily Behlmann
Digital Editor- Wichita Business Journal


Entrepreneur and investor Troy Knauss has heard his share of pitches from entrepreneurs.

He previously was the fund executive for Piedmont Angel Network in Greensboro, N.C., where he sifted through business plans to help member-investors find opportunities.

Now, he’s a founder and managing partner of Guardant, which he says was created to bring together several angel groups to give investors a wider reach and give entrepreneurs access to a larger pool of capital.

Knauss, who will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Great Plains Capital Conference on Oct. 22, is the co-author of the book “Get In Get Out: 100 Rules for Successful Start-Up Deals.”

He says that through Guardant, he’s setting his sights on a wider geographic area than he has before. He says he’d like to leave the Great Plains Capital Conference with a couple of potential future deals in hand.

I talked with him about what advice he’d offer to entrepreneurs who are preparing to make their pitches to potential investors. Here’s what he had to say:

What’s your top piece of advice for entrepreneurs who area starting to look for investors?

One of the biggest, most critical things is to make sure the investors you’re speaking to are interested in the space you’re in. Do your due diligence on the investors you’re looking at. … Investors don’t want to waste their time. Entrepreneurs don’t want to waste time on investors who don’t understand their business.

Is there anything that will make you turn down an investment opportunity immediately, without looking at the details?

There are lots of things, but the team is one of the most critical components of any deal. I’m not saying I wouldn’t invest in an early-stage startup by a first-time entrepreneur, but … I want to make sure that they can answer questions and they can do it quickly. I focus on the team, coachability and credibility.

What I’ve found is that sometimes the little ideas are the most successful, when you find these little niches, so I’m open to any idea an entrepreneur shows.

I read in a report by our sister publication, the Business Journal Serving the Greater Triad Area, that you’re a pilot. What do you fly?

My wife doesn’t let me fly anymore. But it was a Cessna 172.

Registration for the Great Plains Capital Conference is open through Oct. 16. The event is Oct. 22 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Wichita Airport.

Emily Behlmann oversees the website and other digital projects. She covers technology. For technology news, subscribe to the WBJ’s free TechFlash newsletter.

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Detroit Harmonie has an ambitious agenda for both bringing people in the city together and providing a platform for social entrepreneurs to fundraise seed capital. The Midtown-based nonprofit believes it can take its first step toward those goals with a seed-capital competition on March 3.

The Get Funded Challenge will allow about a dozen social entrepreneurs to compete for $50,000 in cash prizes to get their businesses started. The competition will offer a $30,000 grand prize and allow local residents to vote for the winner. The idea is that competitions like this will serve as a model for funding entrepreneurial dreams and allow entrepreneurs, investors and customers to make connections outside of their normal social circles.

“We want to become a funding mechanism to get them to the next level,” says Jordan Wolfe, co-founder and chair of Detroit Harmonie.

Detroit Harmonie also is working on developing a scorecard for the winners of the Get Funded Challenge to track their progress. The nonprofit, launched in July, is aiming to fund projects and businesses that create economic impact in Detroit’s communities through improving the physical environment or enhancing cultural diversity.

“They have to be doing something that is making Detroit a better place,” Wolfe says.

For information on the competition, click here.

Source: Jordan Wolfe, co-founder and chair of Detroit Harmonie
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit’s growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at

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Alternative Finance Soars As Banks Shun Businesses

Alternative finance is starting to plug a multi-billion pound funding gap for entrepreneurs and startup businesses.

The market has mushroomed to a £2 billion a year business from almost a standing start just two years ago, according to new research by innovation charity NESTA.

The finance is equivalent to high street banks lending to 7,000 small businesses – a share of around 2.4% of the commercial finance market.

The sector is booming – showing growth of 150% between 2012 and 2013, followed by161% this year.

The reason, according to online specialist investment web site, is the banks do not want to lend to risky startups.

Debt and equity

NESTA’s research showed alternative finance comprises both debt and equity lending – from the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) through to crowdfunding and peer to peer lending.

“The entrepreneurs and businesses looking for funding find alternative finance is quicker and easier to deal with,” wrote Stuart Smith of

“Funding is more flexible than what the banks are offering and is generally cheaper to access.”

The NESTA study also disclosed seven out of 10 entrepreneurs who have dipped into alternative finance to grow their businesses have seen turnover increase, while two-thirds reported record profits.

Another aspect of alternative finance is aid for social projects that have little or no hope of finding funding from commercial sources.

Cash control

NESTA says three-quarters of investors are giving more money to social and cultural projects than ever before.

The figures come from a NESTA report aimed at explaining how alternative finance works for investors and entrepreneurs.

“Alternative finance offers cash control and a new way to help businesses to give money to a good cause,” said a NESTA spokesman to

“Entrepreneurs, charities and community groups gain as they might otherwise never have had the opportunity to secure the cash they need to make their ideas work.”

Alternative Finance Plugs Entrepreneur Funding Gap

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When it comes to your financial future, receiving the correct advice is of paramount importance. Please click here to connect with an independent financial advisor for expert, whole of the market advice today.Alternative Finance Plugs Entrepreneur Funding Gap

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KITCHENER, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – Nov. 20, 2014) - Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario)

Angel investors and businesses in southern Ontario will benefit from an investment of up to $3.35 million announced today by FedDev Ontario Minister of State Gary Goodyear on the occasion of the first-ever Global Business Angels Day.

Angel investors play a significant role in providing early-stage businesses with access to capital and coaching. This helps businesses to grow, create jobs and bring innovations to domestic and international markets.

Funding for the National Angel Capital Organization and the Network of Angel Organizations – Ontario will help to improve resources and share best practices for angel investing. In addition, funding for eight regional angel networks will help to improve services and tools for existing members and attract new ones. All of these activities will increase the pool of investment and mentoring support available for companies in southern Ontario.

Today’s announcement builds on recent announcements of up to $1.725 million for four other angel networks in southern Ontario. This brings the total announced funding for angel associations and networks, through the second intake of FedDev Ontario’s Investing in Business Innovation initiative, to up to $5.075 million.

Global Business Angels Day is part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, which is being recognized in 150 countries with roughly seven million people participating in events, activities and competitions that are building one global economic ecosystem.

Quick facts

  • In total, the 12 angel networks receiving funding through the second intake of the Investing in Business Innovation initiative expect to attract more than 575 new members and invest up to $116.7 million in up to
    366 companies. To date, these networks have invested more than $70 million in more than 180 companies.
  • Through the first intake of the Investing in Business Innovation initiative launched in October 2010, FedDev Ontario invested more than $3 million in 12 angel networks and associations. These networks have reported they were able to grow the number of registered investors from 283 to more than 1,000.
  • The National Angel Capital Organization 2013 Report on Angel Investing Activity in Canada shows that
    $89 million was invested in 199 deals by 29 Canadian Angel groups last year alone.
  • The Network of Angel Organizations – Ontario reports that between April 1, 2011, and March 31, 2014, more than $100 million in angel and co-investment into early-stage companies has been organized, and at least 1,600 jobs have been created or retained.


“Through strategic investments in building the angel investor community, our Government is giving early-stage businesses the tools they need to create jobs, and bring growth and long-term prosperity to the region. FedDev Ontario has programming to support new entrepreneurs with great ideas who want to start a company; programs for existing businesses that want to expand, train their staff or enter a global supply chain; and initiatives for businesses looking to partner with post-secondary institutions. We are proud to be a key partner with angel investors in helping innovative businesses to grow.”

- Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for FedDev Ontario

“Investing in Business Innovation has been a game-changer in the world of early-stage financing. It has incented angel investors to become more engaged with innovative start-ups and has allowed our organizations to build critical mass and momentum.”

- Michelle Scarborough, Board Chair, National Angel Capital Organization

“In addition to helping build up Ontario’s network of angel groups who are dedicated to investing their ‘smart capital’ into early-stage companies, the team at FedDev Ontario has also made a considerable effort to truly understand what entrepreneurs need to succeed. It’s a privilege to work in concert with FedDev Ontario and to help enable new job creation.”

- Blake Witkin, Chairperson, Network of Angel Organizations – Ontario

Related Products

Backgrounder: FedDev Ontario’s Investments in Angel Networks and Associations

Associated Links

Investing in Business Innovation initiative

NACO’s 2013 Report on Angel Investing Activity in Canada

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FedDev Ontario’s Investments in Angel Associations and Networks

To date, FedDev Ontario has invested up to $5.075 million in two angel associations and 12 angel networks through the Investing in Business Innovation initiative. This initiative is aimed at strengthening the innovation ecosystem in southern Ontario by supporting new entrepreneurs, early-stage businesses and angel investors.

Through these investments, the angel organizations will be able to grow the angel investor community in southern Ontario through outreach and capacity-building activities, as well as expanding the tools, services and best practices available for angel investing. Increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of angel investment in the region will support innovative businesses in the region looking for investment capital and mentoring support.

Angel Associations


Project Description

FedDev Ontario Contribution (up to)
National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) is a national organization representing angel networks that was established in 2002. NACO accelerates a thriving, early-stage investing ecosystem in Canada by connecting individuals, groups, and other partners that support Angel-stage investing. NACO provides intelligence, tools and resources for its members; facilitates key connections across networks, borders and industries; and helps to inform policy affecting the Angel asset-class.

Consult with experts and key stakeholders on practices and standards of angel investors, develop educational and promotional materials and deliver these practices and standards to members online and through local events in southern Ontario. This will lead to a more consistent quality and structure of angel investments, including terms, ownership, percentages, due diligence and company governance.

Network of Angel Organizations – Ontario (NAO – Ontario) is a province-wide organization supporting angel networks that was established in 2007 to deliver the Angel Network Program across Ontario. The organization helps attract private angel investors to fund early-stage companies which otherwise face challenges raising institutional capital.

Improve membership recruitment and engagement practices of smaller and newer southern Ontario Angel networks. These angel networks are typically located in more rural regionals and have limited capacity to use social media and other engagement methods to attract experienced angel investors.



Angel Networks


Project Description

FedDev Ontario Contribution (up to)

*Angel One Investment Network was established in September 2011 and is located in Burlington. Its members have to date invested more than $15 million in 32 companies.

*Announced on October 14, 2014

Increase membership from 110 to an anticipated 210 members, resulting in up to 50 companies receiving $15 million over a five-year project period.


“This is an exciting time for Angel One. We are very pleased with this significant support as we grow our network and find innovative ways for our members, who are successful business people in their own right, to help young companies find the same success.”
– Colin Wyatt, Chairman of the Board of Directors
Capital Angel Network was established in 2010 and is located in Ottawa. Its members have to date invested more than $9 million in 23 companies and have leveraged an additional $13 million.

Increase membership from 60 to an anticipated 110 members, resulting in up to 40 companies receiving more than $20 million in new investments over a five-year project period.


“The Ottawa Angel community continues to invest in high-growth, early-stage companies, providing them with much needed growth capital which allows them to create jobs and grow their businesses locally, and abroad. This support from Fed Dev Ontario will help to broaden our impact, support the entrepreneurial eco-system, and further encourage investment in the Ottawa area.”
– Parm Gill, Executive Director
Georgian Angel Network (GAN) was established in 2010 and is located in Collingwood. Its members have to date invested $3.3 million in 13companies and have helped leverage an additional $14.6 million.

Increase membership from 16 to an anticipated 40 members, resulting in up to 20 companies receiving more than $2.5 million in new investments over a two-year project period.


“FedDev Ontario’s support is crucial to the operation of Georgian Angel Network and we view FedDev Ontario as a core partner of GAN. We thank FedDev Ontario for contributing significantly to the growth of the start-up ecosystem in southern Ontario”.
– Sandy Robertson, Managing Director
*Golden Triangle Angel Network was established in 2009 and is located in Cambridge. Its members have to date invested more than $19 million in 37 companies and have leveraged an additional $23 million.

*Announced on November 12, 2014

Increase membership from 100 to an anticipated 200, resulting in up to 100 companies receiving more than $40 million in new investments over a five-year project period.


“With FedDev Ontario’s support, the Golden Triangle Angel Network (GTAN) has experienced unprecedented success in its first five years. GTAN thanks FedDev Ontario for the financial support it provides to our angel network, and commits to providing expanded services and funding to the early-stage ecosystem over the next five years and helps to bring renewed prosperity to communities in southern Ontario.”
– Robert Douglas, President
Greensky President’s Club (GPC) was established in 2013 and is located in Toronto. Its members have to date invested more than $2 million in 12 companies.

Increase membership from 27 to an anticipated 70 members, resulting in up to 15 companies receiving more than $4.5 million in new investments over a three-year project period.


“The GreenSky President’s Club is very pleased to receive funding support from FedDev Ontario over a multi-year period. We built the GPC to provide an innovative alternative to the standard Angel group model, providing serious early-stage investors with better quality deal flow and the increased probability of a successful exit through experienced, professional management. FedDev Ontario’s support will allow the GPC to both increase the number of active angels who participate in the group as well as allow the GPC to connect with more high-quality early-stage companies in the Clean Tech and IT spaces.”
– Michael T. R. List, Director
Maple Leaf Angels Corporation was established in 2007 and is located in Toronto. Its members have to date invested more than $10 million in 26 companies and facilitated more than $21.5 million in follow-on funding.

Increase membership from 35 to an anticipated 75 members, resulting in up to 10 companies receiving more than $4 million in new investments over two-year project period.


“Fostering innovation in Ontario and Canada is a responsibility shared by many that include Investors, Angel Groups and Government. MLA is leveraging FedDev Ontario funding to provide mentoring, education and many events that assist entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.”
– Gerard Buckley, Chairperson
Niagara Angel Network was established in 2011 and is located in St. Catharines. Its members have to date invested more than $6.3 million in 14 companies, which has leveraged more than $30 million in additional equity and funding to those companies.

Increase membership from 52 to an anticipated 100 members, resulting in up to 42 companies receiving more than $10.5 million in new investments over a five-year period.


“Our members are a catalyst for economic development and investing in the growth of our Region. Thanks to the Government of Canada, the Niagara Angel Network can now expand its membership and support the growth of early stage companies. This provides us with an opportunity to develop not only new technologies and economic development, but the best young minds we have here in Niagara.”
– Fred Davies, Chair
Peterborough Region Angel Network was established in 2008 and is located in Peterborough. Its members have to date invested $350,000 in two companies, leveraging an additional $500,000 in the Peterborough area.

Increase membership from 18 to an anticipated 35 members, resulting in up to 6 companies receiving $500,000 in new investments over a two-year project period.


“This exciting announcement of funding will enable the ‘Peterborough Angels,’ along with our strategic partner the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster, to provide enhanced support for entrepreneurship and economic development in the region.”
– Yves LaFortune, Executive Director
Southeastern Ontario Angel Network was established in 2014 and is located in Kingston.

Increase membership from 10 to an anticipated 65 members, resulting in up to 21 companies receiving $4.2 million in new investments over a three-year project period.


“We have to capitalize on the many potential investors in this region who can contribute investment and experience to help build and grow new companies in this region. The Southeastern Ontario Angel Network (SOAN) will provide a vehicle and support to bring individual investors together and to leverage that investment and maximize its impact on growth in this region.”
– John Molloy, Director
*Southwestern Ontario Angel Group was established in 2008 and is located in London. Its members have to date invested more than $4 million in 15 companies and have leveraged an additional $8 million.

*Announced on October 15, 2014

Increase membership from 65 to an anticipated 115 members, resulting in up to 40 companies receiving more than $10 million in new investments over a five-year project period.


“The FedDev Ontario Investing in Business Innovation initiative has been instrumental in increasing and accelerating the start-up and growth of early-stage technology-based companies. The support of FedDev Ontario has allowed SWOAG to increase membership, increase private sector investment in business growth and enhance our abilities to guide, mentor and advise entrepreneurs.”
– Carmen S. Gicante, Managing Director
Spark Angel Network was established in 2012 and is located in Ajax.

Increase membership from 16 to an anticipated 46 members, resulting in up to 12 companies receiving more than $3 million in new investments over a three-year project period.


“With this financial support and multi-year commitment from FedDev Ontario, the Spark Angels Investment Network will be able to accelerate its efforts in building an entrepreneurial culture within the Durham and Northumberland regions. We focus on providing start-up and growth capital to businesses built on innovation and sustainable growth technologies, businesses that can create high-value, knowledge-based jobs and opportunities for current and future generations of entrepreneurs within our community.”
– Malcolm MacTaggart, Executive Director
*Windsor Essex Capital Angel Network was established in 2013 and is located in Windsor. Its members have to date invested more than $1.72 million in 12 companies.

*Announced on November 13, 2014

Increase membership from 11 to an anticipated 30 members, resulting in up to 10 companies receiving more than $2.5 million in new investments over a three-year project period.


“The Windsor Essex Angel Capital Network (WECAN) is extremely grateful for the funding being provided by FedDev Ontario. This funding will help WECAN meet its objectives to: disseminate information to angel members and community stakeholders; assist in fostering stronger relationships between entrepreneur and investor; and promote growth for seed and start up investment opportunities in Windsor and across southern Ontario.”
– Omer L. Hageniers, Windsor Essex Capital Angel Network
Total: 12 Angel networks with 520 members, who have invested more than $70.67 million in 186 companies

Up to 576 new members, who are anticipated to invest up to $116.7 million in up to 366 companies


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News Release: FedDev Ontario Invests in Angel Organizations across southern Ontario

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TORONTO, Nov. 20, 2014 /CNW/ - Today is Global Business Angels Day, an initiative of Global Entrepreneurship Week. Angels across the country are participating in local activities in an effort to disrupt their regional entrepreneurial ecosystems.

National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) is launching a cross-Canada campaign to champion angel investors and the successful entrepreneurs they work with. Over 14 angels from the west to east coast will be speaking to media about angel investing.

From Vancouver where a new Angel group is launching a new initiative to help connect talent and $, to Saskatoon where an Angel stepped in to help the company stay alive and grow significantly. Big news in the GTA where the York Angels are celebrating a successful exit for the company Shiny Ads. The East coast has great stories in Halifax and Newfoundland.

  • 29 Angel groups made 199 investments in 2013 totaling $89 million
  • The top three sectors invested in by Angels continue to be Information and Communication Technology ($28.8 million), Life Sciences ($20.5 million) and Clean Technology ($7.5 million)

SOURCE National Angel Capital Organization

For further information: Contact Melissa Durrell 519-500-4408 for more information, or to be connected with a Founder/Funder story.

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TORONTO , Nov. 20, 2014 /CNW/ - Today is Global Business Angels Day, an initiative of Global Entrepreneurship Week. Angels across the country are participating in local activities in an effort to disrupt their regional entrepreneurial ecosystems.

National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) is launching a cross- Canada campaign to champion angel investors and the successful entrepreneurs they work with. Over 14 angels from the west to east coast will be speaking to media about angel investing.

From Vancouver where a new Angel group is launching a new initiative to help connect talent and $, to Saskatoon where an Angel stepped in to help the company stay alive and grow significantly. Big news in the GTA where the York Angels are celebrating a successful exit for the company Shiny Ads. The East coast has great stories in Halifax and Newfoundland .

  • 29 Angel groups made 199 investments in 2013 totaling $89 million
  • The top three sectors invested in by Angels continue to be Information and Communication Technology ( $28.8 million ), Life Sciences ( $20.5 million ) and Clean Technology ( $7.5 million )

SOURCE National Angel Capital Organization

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In the book, Write Your Business Plan, the staff of Entrepreneur Media offer an in-depth understanding of what’s essential to any business plan, what’s appropriate for your venture and what it takes to ensure success. In this edited excerpt, the authors discuss angel investing as an option for funding your business.

If you’re having trouble getting funding for your venture under the right terms, or under any terms at all, you’ll be glad to know about the existence of angels in the investment world. Angels are individuals who invest their own money, as opposed to institutions or professional money managers, who invest other people’s money. Many angels are well-off professionals, such as doctors and lawyers. Some are retired but have tremendous expertise to share in a specific field. Others are successful small-business owners who have made a bundle with their own entrepreneurial efforts and are now interested in letting their money work for them in someone else’s venture.

Angel investors used to be a difficult group to find — not so any longer. There are groups formed by angels and other organizations, such as Funding Post, that arrange for special angel and venture-capitalist showcases in various parts of the country. You can sign up and pay to attend an event at which up-and-coming entrepreneurs like yourself get to meet with many angel investors and VCs in one place. Have your short elevator pitch ready, and demonstrate the enthusiasm you have for your new business.

Because angels invest their own money, you might think they are the most discriminating, difficult-to-please investors. In fact, as a rule, they’re much more willing to take a flier on a risky, unproven idea than are professional investors and lenders.

Angels often take a personal interest in a project and may simply believe strongly in the person behind it … that’s you! They’re usually swayed more by personal concerns than by financial ones.

While angel investors used to be located primarily by word of mouth, they’re easier to find in the electronic age. ACE-Net is an electronic network of angel investors developed by the SBA that helps angel investors and small businesses seeking capital meet online. There’s an annual fee to enroll in ACE-Net, which varies by state. You can also find the ACE-Net branch in your state on the website. The Angel Capital Association is another place to learn about angels and seek out an angel network—a local group of angel investors in your area.  

Keep in mind that, above all else, angels are unconventional. Many have little training in evaluating business ideas. If 20 angels turn you down, it doesn’t mean a thing. Until you’ve gone through the last name in your Rolodex, you still have a chance of landing an angel backer.

You may also fit angel guidelines if you don’t need a whole lot of money. Institutional venture capitalists can, by pooling the funds of several different groups, raise vast sums. It’s not unheard of for venture capitalists to invest nine-figure sums—more than $100 million—in relatively new, unproven ventures. But even rich, single investors like Bill Gates or Warren Buffett are unlikely to feel comfortable sinking that kind of money into anything uncertain.

Your angels’ capacity will vary, of course, but angels tend to start small and see how you’re doing before adding to the pot. One of the nicest things about the angel networks that have formed in recent years is that they can pool their resources, giving you a few angel investors in one place at one time. This also makes it easier when you’re preparing to meet with angel investors. Rather than meeting one at a time, you can meet several in one angel network or even a couple who’ll spread the word among their partners so that they can decide as a group.

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Thursday, November 20 the important role angel investors play in helping startups grow is being celebrated as part of the first ever Global Business Angels Day, part of Global Entrepreneurship Week.  Angels are often a hidden hero of the startup and innovation economy – so it is important to unveil and celebrate the important contributions angels make.

Hidden National Impact

The measuring stick of any good angel is financial return on their investment portfolio – but it is amazing how many angel investors I talk to are also excited about other non-financial returns.  The thing I hear the most about is helping create jobs and innovation in their communities.  This is where American angel investors really shine:

  • In 2013, angels are estimated to have provided nearly $25 billion in more than 71,000 investment offerings, likely more than 50,000 businesses.
  • 61,000 of the investments – or 86 percent – were in true startups and early-stage companies, the kind most likely to lead to job growth. According to Census Bureau data, startups comprise less than one percent of all companies, but generate 10 percent of new jobs in any given year.
  • More than two-thirds of investment by angel groups and other savvy angels were in startups in highly scalable sectors – life sciences, technology, Internet, and social media.  A 2013 Kauffman Foundation study found the high tech sector to be a key driver of job creation.
  • Angel funding has been behind some of the most important companies in America:  Facebook, Google, Amazon, Twitter and Starbucks, just to name a few.
  • Angels supply nearly 90 percent of outside equity to startup companies, after friends and family.  It may surprise many that venture capital is a smaller player in the startup stage of companies—angels fund 20 times the number of seed-stage companies than VCs year after year. Without angel investors, many of these companies would not be around.  (Of course, VCs then put in very important capital for these companies to expand.)
  • These investments were in every state in the country.  In many ways, you can think of angel investors as part of “Main Street” for a large number of high growth startups.
  • Young firms in the US with angel financing have an increased probability of survival, improved performance, and growth of 30 to 50 percent on average, per a study by Harvard and MIT researchers.

GBAD Logo WhiteImpact is on Individual Entrepreneurs and Main Street

The national picture is interesting, but the importance of good angel investors is really felt on Main Street. Two entrepreneurs explained the difference angels made for their companies and communities:


  • Alan Knitowski, Phunware Inc. (Austin, TX):  “Phunware was established in February 2009 and over the first five years raised approximately $17.5M in angel money. Because of the angel capital, we were able to achieve tremendous early success and literally exponential growth. The angel money enabled us hire people to build our platform and sustain operations while we built out our sales organizations and filed patents vital to protecting the intellectual property of our business. The bigger balance sheet that we created with angel investment allowed us to grow both organically through our own efforts and inorganically through acquisitions as well. We now employ 230 people… Without raising the angel money, the only way that we would have had to survive and grow would have been through customer contracts and bootstrapping.”
  • Elizabeth Hess, TRX Systems (Greenbelt, MD): “At TRX, we’ve to date created 19 well-paying and long-lasting jobs – and our sales growth will drive creation of many more jobs over the next several years. These jobs would not have existed without our angel investors. Angel investment is about more than money. Angels commit real time and energy to a company’s growth. Entrepreneurs have brilliant technical ideas, but it takes more than technology to build a successful company. Angels bring pragmatism and balance based on their years of experience, both operationally and as investors. In a startup environment, the availability of someone to play devil’s advocate and to view the company, the product, and the market without bias is invaluable. Angels also bring networks of contacts that extend far into organizations, in many cases to key operating and decision-making executives. An angel board member at a company where I worked previously made the introduction to the right person at Cisco that ultimately resulted in the sale of the company to Cisco.”

Growing Global Presence

Beyond Main Street USA we’re seeing growth in business angel investing throughout the world.  Global Business Angels Day is being celebrated in Canada, Latin America, Europe, Asia/ Pacific Rim, Middle East and Africa.  There are some outstanding angel investors (and angel-backed companies) in places like Chile, Italy, New Zealand, and India.  New angel groups have been established recently in Barbados and Egypt.

Through the Angel Capital Association members meet colleagues throughout the world and share ideas and good practices in evaluating investment opportunities, supporting companies through growth and supporting portfolio companies to exits.  Angels from 30 countries have attended the ACA Summit.  Through programs like this, international relationships and trust are developing that over time will lead to more cross-border angel investment using both traditional and new angel investing approaches such as Internet platforms.

There is much to be learned about the global angel community and publications such as Financing High Growth Firms: The Role of Angel Investors (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) and Creating Your Own Angel Group: A Guide for Emerging and Frontier Markets (World Bank) are helping to close the gaps.

I’m pleased to be part of the global angel community while helping to support exciting, growing companies on Main Street USA.  As the impact of angels and this expanding investment class continues to grow I see a future with more and smarter angels whose impact on economic growth, here in the U.S. and throughout the world, are a fundamental requirement to innovation and economic success.

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