This is part of our Inno on the Road Series, where we explore and showcase a neighboring ecosystem. Inno on the Road: Hampton Roads, which will feature a couple new stories a month and an event in May, is presented by BDO.
While it's always been loosely assumed that an active angel network is a critical component to the general health of an ecosystem, a recent Harvard Business School study on the impact of these organizations cemented this case.
The study concluded that "angel investments are really important and companies that received angel investments do substantially better in terms of employment and successful outcomes," per a Forbes summary on the report.
In the Hampton Roads region, 757 Angels, a five-year-old angel network with 120 members, is driving this impact locally, ensuring that, despite the difficulties often associated with scaling a business in the region, "proximity to an active angel group" is an advantage that area entrepreneurs will always have.
In fact, this month, 757 Angels announced a record breaking year of investment activity, concluding 2019 with over $15 million invested across 11 companies.
In addition to investing follow-on capital into six portfolio companies, 757 Angels also participated in funding for five new businesses.
The five new companies that entered the portfolio were Puttshack, CytoRecovery, Corsha, EdConnective, and Wine & Beer Supply.
Since launching in 2015, 757 Angels has invested $60 million into 27 companies and this year was recognized by the Angel Capital Association, the official industry alliance of over 100 of the largest angel investor groups in the United States, as a top 10 angel group in North America and the number one group in the Southeast.
“Over the past 5 years, our investment activity has significantly increased from $4 million in 2015 to $15 million in 2019," said 757 executive director Angels Monique Adams. "Increased investment activity signals development of more attractive early stage companies, as well as the importance of resources and infrastructure at work to create these attractive opportunities."
Outside of the new investments, 757 Angels' portfolio companies also experienced major milestones in 2019. Modio Health, a physician-owned and operated platform for healthcare professionals to connect with healthcare organizations, was acquired by CHG Group. According to the angel network, the exit "resulted in an attractive return to those 757 Angels members that participated in the investment."
Throughout the year, 757 Angels accepts applications from Hampton Roads entrepreneurs on its online application site. Three times a year, 757's 120 members meet to listen to pitches by 2-3 of the most compelling companies selected from that cycle’s application pool. Applications can be submitted here.