Angel Fund

Willamette MBA

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Ahead of Schedule and Deeply Technical

Although the Angel class operates as a partnership of students, setting its own agenda and deciding which opportunities to pursue, there are checkpoints built into the schedule which usually determine the pace. The most notable are our board of advisor meetings. The class has a wonderfully experienced and supportive board, made up of local entrepreneurs and business leaders, that meets in December and April, coinciding with the end of the two school semesters. Historically, those meetings have served to focus the class on pitching an investment at one of those end-of-semester meetings.

Not this year.

It’s only October and this class called an exceptional board meeting to present our first major investment. After a six-week sprint of dedicated due diligence, the students running the Willamette Angel Fund invested $50,000 into a life science company on the front line of combating blood cancers. Lynx Biosciences, based in Southern California, is developing a patented method of culturing patient biopsies and testing different drug regimens to identify the treatment most likely to combat myeloma. Without Lynx’s breakthrough technology, patients diagnosed with myeloma undergo a live trial-and-error process as doctors test treatment after treatment until one works. The old process can take weeks or months — an eternity when facing fast-moving multiple myeloma. Lynx reduces this to days and saves patients from the side effects of treatment trial-and-error. This is our second investment through the Pasadena Angels since our partnership began last year, underscoring the value they bring to our group (for the curious, I have an entire post about our Southern California partners).

Pursuing due diligence on this investment put us to the test. Along the way, we relied on all the skills AGSM and the College of Law taught us. Our accounting and finance classes enabled us to create cash flow models. Our marketing classes empowered us to identify comparable companies and research the scope of the blood cancer market. Our legal classes made it possible to evaluate patents and digest dense legal agreements and term sheets. Seeking to understand the technology underlying Lynx, our networking skills drove our conversations with other investors and industry experts, such as researchers at Oregon Health & Science University and board members of other life science companies. It was an enormous amount of work, but was worth the effort when we faced scrutinizing and thoughtful questions when we presented our diligence findings to the Willamette Angel Fund Board.

With one investment under our belt, the hard work has only just begun. With the bar set high — our first investment a mere two months in — we have a lot to live up to over the next six months.


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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