We’re Loving Angels Instead

Start-up businesses in the north keen for seed capital believe mainstream banks aren’t in the game – so are turning to angel investors instead for their the early-stage leg-up. and last night one of the world’s leading angel investment experts was in Belfast urging high-worth individuals from northern Ireland to “use your liquidity to help expand local entrepreneurship”.

Charismatic former Boston banker and ex-US fighter pilot John Huston is founder and manager of the Ohio Techangel Fund group of angels, which he launched in 2004 to focus on Ohio-based technology start-ups. It now has 340 members and is one of the largest angel groups in north america, providing early-start capital for hundreds of fledgling firms, which typically sprout wings, enjoy a stellar growth spurt and then exit after three-to-five years, selling up for between $20 million and $40m.

He was in Belfast at the invitation of the NI Science Park, which co-ordinates a major programme of investment events and pitches for a growing network of local angel investors under the Halo programme.

Halo has been operating since 2009 and has already ploughed cash into a number of investments through its network of angels, although none of the businesses have yet matured to sale. As well as being a generous and influential contributor to industry, John Huston is passionate about angel investing and about building strength and sustainability into the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“As a banker i spent my days analysing whether mature businesses could pay back their loans, but now that seems so pedestrian compared to the challenge of selecting which start-ups might be successful,” he says.

“I can’t adequately express the thrill of finding, funding, and helping entrepreneurs launch their dream enterprise.

“and when their venture is acquired, doubles staffing, and entrepreneurs reap significant personal wealth, the feeling of satisfaction is overwhelming.”

Huston is acknowledged globally as a remarkable thought leader and visionary implementer, establishing best practices in every aspect of angel group operations, from due diligence, to valuation, from syndication to preparing a company for a successful exit and then sharing those creative ideas and best practices with hundreds of angel groups.

“i’m actually a failed retiree who just couldn’t sit at home and i’ve discovered there’s nothing as entertaining and so much fun as being a business angel.

“I care deeply about giving back and about supporting entrepreneurship,” he said.

“The concept of group angel investing is still relatively new to northern ireland but there is tremendous potential for those with a bit of wealth to take their liquidity and invest in a start-up.

“That way they are giving something back, and they are also providing a lifeline to a new business which could go on to flourish and make a significant contribution to the northern ireland economy.”

Mr Huston was principle speaker last night at the Halo ‘a night at the Museum’ dinner in Belfast. Earlier this week he addressed the European Business angel network conference in dublin.

Source: irishnews.com