Grand Angels featured in MVCA Spotlight NewsletterJune 21, 2010
Frrom MVCA Newsletter:
Grand Angels was founded in 2004 by former Grand Bank founder and CEO Charles C. Stoddard and serial entrepreneur Craig T. Hall. In 2005, Jody Vanderwel was recruited to serve as president of the young organization. Today, Vanderwel leads the 30-plus investors who constitute the Grand Angels, a group she says is optimistic about the future: “We’re coming out of the economic downturn, seeing more dealflow and high levels of enthusiasm among our members. It’s a good time to be an angel in Michigan.”
Grand Angels is one of the state’s oldest continually operating angel groups. That longevity has shaped a well-formed process, with strong due diligence collaboration and entrepreneur mentoring routine among members. The group has invested over $5.2 million in 15 businesses, typically investing $250,000 to $500,000 in early-stage companies with a unique solution to a real problem and a barrier to the entry of competitors. The group prefers to lead investments in West Michigan, but will co-invest on deals around the state. Its most recent investment, Armune, is a prostate diagnostic test led by former Pfizer executive Eli Thompson. Vanderwel says the company is still in the testing phase but hopes to launch its product in less than 12 months.
To better balance the risk inherent in early-stage investing, Grand Angels are expanding their portfolio to include some mezzanine investments. “We think there are many very good Michigan businesses that have been profitable and created jobs, but are in need of subordinated debt or equity capital to grow further. We’re excited to be a catalyst for these companies,” said Vanderwel.
Grand Angels remain a vibrant part of the angel and venture capital landscape in Michigan. In April, Grand Angels co-hosted an event in Grand Rapids with the Michigan Venture Capital Association that showcased exciting new companies incubated in the region’s business development centers. Furthermore, Vanderwel co-chairs the new Michigan angel cooperative group, a development she hopes will benefit all angel groups in the state by sharing best practices and increasing opportunity for deal syndication.