757 Angels to join VentureSouth network
Partnership to increase access to capital
757 Angels, a Hampton Roads angel investment group that matches venture capitalists with local entrepreneurs, is partnering with VentureSouth, one of the largest angel network groups in the United States, the group announced Friday.
The partnership, effective June 2023, will provide more access to capital and investors to 757 Angels’ 140 members.
VentureSouth has about 450 members. 757 Angels launched in 2015 and in its first year raised about $4 million from 50 members. Now, it’s grown to 140 and surpassed $100 million in capital invested in 49 companies, according to 757 Angels Executive Director Monique Adams. About 90% of 757 Angels’ member investors hail from Hampton Roads, she said, and all the companies 757 Angels invests in are either Virginia-based or have significant operations in Virginia.
“This is an evolution where our community is really going to get more,” Adams said, adding that 757 Angels will retain its brand and local board and will continue to have a local market director, she stressed. “We’re not upsetting the applecart here. … We’re using this as a vehicle to grow and we can provide enhanced benefits to entrepreneurs and to investors.”
On the entrepreneur side, that means providing broader access to capital and helping early-stage companies to potentially raise money faster. Entrepreneurs will present to VentureSouth’s entire network, which includes 20 chapters across the Southeast. On the investor side, it provides benefits such as diversification and diligence, increased deal flow and access to invest through VentureSouth’s funds. All benefit from a larger professional staff — nine or 10 people instead of two — and more capacity and capability, Adams said.
VentureSouth, also established in 2015, has invested more than $70 million into nearly 100 early-stage companies. It has chapters in cities such as Charleston, South Carolina; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Atlanta.
Matt Dunbar, managing director of VentureSouth, came to Norfolk to meet with 757 Angels’ members Thursday night.
“From a values alignment standpoint, I think we think about our role in the ecosystem similarly and that we are really focused on trying to bring capital to early-stage companies,” he said. “Entrepreneurs historically have had a fairly hard time raising capital in this part of the world.”
The organizations’ processes and approaches are not identical, but similar, Dunbar says.
“I think this reflects on the great organization we built,” Adams said, adding that “we’ve grown into something that’s exciting and offers incredible benefits to all the stakeholders in the ecosystem.”
Adams, who will assist with the transition, plans to step down from her role as executive director in June 2023. “I am going to take some time to recoup, reset and re-evaluate,” she told Virginia Business. Her replacement has not been identified and a search for a new executive director will begin in 2023.
A former finance executive at predecessor banks of Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, she sits on the boards of the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority, Reinvent Hampton Roads and the Hampton Roads Biomedical Research Consortium.