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Summit for Angels, Foundations for Growth

As much as we try to stay ahead of the curve here at Startup Angels, last week’s was in many ways overdue. As angel investing and entrepreneurship have gained traction outside coastal cities, ecosystems have sprung up in Kansas City, in Little Rock, in Provo and in Dallas, each with their own local leaders and quirks. At the same time, barriers for entry have lowered, creating thousands of new angels and entrepreneurs and making these local networks even more critical. As such, we felt the lack of a national forum convening actors from all over the startup community – investors, corporations, community leaders and entrepreneurs – was a considerable oversight.

With our inaugural last week, we’ve taken the first steps toward filling this gap in collaborative dialogue. We were delighted to bring together over 150 friends from across 20 states and all corners of the startup economy in Dallas on November 12 and 13.

Our main goals at were to discuss the “professionalization” of angel investing, as Paul Singh of Disruption Corporation put it, as well as the further expansion of the field. We tackled the first goal by looking at the lessons seasoned investors could offer newer entrants. The Summit was headlined by Dave McClure of 500 Startups, Mark Kvamme of Drive Capital, Phil Romano of Trinity Groves, and Scott Case of Main Street Genome, among other investment luminaries who shared their storied experiences with investors of all levels of expertise.

The breakout sessions we saw at the Summit took it one step further. By covering everything from the personalized nuances of forming mentorship relationships to the legal technicalities of writing effective term sheets, the Summit provided a crash course in national best practice for new angels, as well as a venue for more experienced investors to sharpen their skills.

Our second goal, growing the field, was pursued through the launch of our #1MAngels challenge. If 1M angels each invested $1,000, the resulting $1 billion would be enough to get dozens of companies off the ground. As such, we wanted the community’s thoughts on how angel communities can expand, innovate and further democratize investing. The response has been tremendous, and we look forward to sharing these ideas in the coming months.

One theme, however, stood out at the Summit – the importance of nurturing diversity in our community. Angel investing is more of a collaborative enterprise than ever, and the Summit demonstrated that if we’re ever going to expand our field to 1M or even 400M angels, it’ll be through inclusion. With this in mind, we were ecstatic that our panels on expanding diversity, featuring founders of organizations like the Latino Startup Alliance and The Way Women Work, were enthusiastically received. The Summit’s panels on building partnerships with corporations and government were also a hit, highlighting the interest of corporate partners heavily involved in the startup space like Coca-Cola and American Airlines.

Most of all, we wanted to celebrate our nation’s entrepreneurs, those risk-oriented pioneers who make our field possible. We gave away $15,000 in cash and over $50,000 in total prizes, donated by Trailblazer Capital and our other partners, to the winners of Startup Jackpot, whose exceptional presentations reminded us that after all, we need them more than the other way around.

And of course, we’d like to express our deep gratitude to the Dallas Entrepreneur Center, as well as our many sponsors, and other partners. Needless to say, we couldn’t have pulled it off without you! To our attendees, this year’s Summit was just the beginning – we hope to see and hear from all of you soon!