Indiana Venture Center overhauls AngelNet

The Indiana Venture Center, an Indianapolis not-for-profit that mentors promising  startup companies, today announced it is overhauling Indiana AngelNet, its proprietary network of wealthy angel investors.

The Venture Center has hired David Doyle, a financial services veteran who managed Inception LLC. Inception is a private venture fund and consulting company that reviews deals and advises companies primarily on behalf of David Becker, the local entrepreneur who founded First Internet Bank, VIFI and re:Member Data Services.

Before joining Inception, Doyle helped form the local technology consulting firm Onex Inc. He previously held executive positions with life science firm Aventec; brokerage Raffensperger Hughes & Co. and Indiana National Bank.

Doyle joined the Venture Center’s staff on an informal basis three months ago at Becker’s request. He focused on evaluating AngelNet, a database of several hundred wealthy Hoosiers who occasionally invest cash to capitalize startup companies.

Their investments, usually in the six-figure range, are often the bridge between a startup’s initial friends-and-family financing and the formal venture capital investments it attracts once it shows a consistent track record.

Under Doyle, the Venture Center will whittle AngelNet down to about 30 accredited investors, each of whom will be required to pay annual fees of $1,000. The idea is to narrow AngelNet to its most eager participants who will share their time and experience in addition to their cash.

The center also will “scrub” its best prospects for AngelNet to consider, intensely evaluating business plans and establishing company valuations. Doyle said the result should be about half a dozen deals annually in the $250,000 to $2.5 million range.

Eventually, Doyle said, the center plans to find a way to bring the rest of AngelNet’s database back into the fold.

“We would like to involve them in the process,” he said. “But if we don’t get it up and running, there’s nothing for them to get involved in.”

Doyle said AngelNet’s redesign won’t cause the center to lose its focus on helping shepherd a much larger group of startups through their early growing pains. The center will still provide a wealth of mentoring services and university assistance to its whole portfolio of promising young firms.

“For those not ready for prime time, we can help them figure out what they need to do to move forward and get angel investment,” he said. “There’s a whole host of things that have to come together.”

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