Twelve years ago, the Queen City Angels were five guys who would meet at restaurants to talk about investing in local startups and who, group chairman Tony Shipley jokes, hadn’t gotten the memo that the dot-com bubble was about to burst.
Now three funds and 54 diverse companies later, the validation-stage and seed-stage investing group – the first of its kind in Ohio – has survived the dot-com bust and two recessions. Its 49 members have invested $33 million of their own money into regional startups, which has been leveraged into additional capital in excess of $200 million from other investors, and created 254 jobs.
They’ve made a national mark. In recent years, the Angel Capital Association has recognized the Queen City Angels as one of the five most active groups in the country, and in April, Shipley testified before Congress on the value of angel investing.
Seed-stage funding is a critical part of any region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. It’s there to help a startup transition from a crawl to its first steps and often is the bridge to early-stage venture capital funding. That’s only part of the deal. Seed-stage investors often serve as mentors and help entrepreneurs avoid rookie mistakes.