Angel Fund

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A Partnership of Angels, in the City of Angels

Himalaya Rao-Potlapally and Liz Hartman after a breakfast meeting with the Pasadena Angels.

Anyone thinking the Willamette Angel Fund is a sequestered student activity should have been with us earlier this month, where class kicked off quickly by taking three of us to Southern California for a delicious dinner and rousing breakfast meeting with our regional partners. A mere two-and-a-half weeks into the semester, our first trio of students flew down to Los Angeles to attend their first mid-week breakfast meeting with the Pasadena Angels. The Pasadena Angels proved an extremely valuable partner last year, generating three of the four deals the Willamette Angel Fund seriously considered, and we are extremely excited to be working with them again.

The trip started with dinner at the North Italia restaurant in El Segundo, where Himalaya Rao-Potlapally (pictured left), Liz Hartman (pictured right), and I got together with David Cheng. David is a former Willamette alumnus who now works for K1 Investment Management, a private equity firm based out of Southern California. K1 Investment Management specializes in enterprise software companies. Thanks to the success of our previous students in selecting great startups, K1 was involved in the purchase of at least two companies the Willamette Angel Fund has invested in.

Then, it was off to the hotel to rest up for the breakfast meeting the next day, where the Pasadena Angels were bringing a strong start to the year by showcasing life science technologies, travel management software, and a gaming social network venture. Los Angeles and the surrounding metropolitan areas generate an astonishing amount of entrepreneurial activity in the software, biotech, healthcare, mobile app, consumer goods, and financial services space. Every month, Pasadena takes several dozen applicants and whittles them down to just two pitches at each breakfast meeting, ensuring we see top-quality companies.

As we kicked off the tenth year of the Willamette Angel Fund, we returned with our first potential investment of the year — a life science company that has developed a new drug efficacy test to aid in treating blood cancers. Whether we write this company a check or not, remains to be seen. Either way, the power of partnerships is clear. Working with an angel investing group in Pasadena to launch startups that may grow to be acquired by a private equity firm in Los Angeles, one of the most important jobs for us is building the relationships that make it all happen.

To learn  more about the Pasadena Angels or K1 Investment Management, check out their websites:

Nathan Foos

Nathan Foos is an MBA/JD candidate at Willamette University, and is an alumnus of the WU College of Liberal Arts where he studied history, mathematics, and economics. With a strong interest in the provision of capital to growing firms, Nathan has actively engaged in the experiential course offerings at AGSM, including the O’Neill Student Investment Fund and the Willamette Angel Fund. In particular, Nathan enjoys angel investing because he can engage on a personal level with investee companies, obtain real-world insight into a plethora of industries, and learn from the mistakes and successes of hundreds of startups.

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