Dayo Idowu is the business development lead at Groove Capital, a venture capital and investment firm based in Minnesota. In the early 2010s, Idowu was a linebacker for two seasons with the North Dakota Fighting Hawks at the University of North Dakota, where he studied chemical engineering. After graduating college, he entered the medical sales and startup industries, serving as a technical sales engineer for medical equipment manufacturer Teleflex Medical OEM and later as a business development representative for on-demand delivery service company Dispatch. He is also a current mentor for global investment business Techstars.
Jacquelene Barnes, TechTown Detroit’s program manager for growth capital, talked with Idowu about transitioning from his collegiate football career to the world of medical sales and investing, learning the fundamentals of angel investing through the Catalyst Angel Program and more.
TechTown Detroit: Tell us a bit about yourself and your investment journey.
Dayo Idowu: My name is Dayo Idowu. I’m a former athlete; I played football at the Division One level. I’m an engineer by training and then I got into the sales world. I worked in medical device sales right out of school and my first exposure to startups was seeing big companies like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter [now called X], and then hearing about Silicon Valley. But it’s never really said to the common person or common investor that they can have a part of that company until they’re listed on the New York Stock Exchange. When working in the medical device industry in Minnesota, I had the pleasure of working with startups that were doing a lot of cool things and seeing some startups be acquired for a lot of money. I wondered, “How do you invest in something like that?” But I hadn’t asked that simple question. Then I went to a development day presentation for professionals and they talked about entrepreneurship, capitalization tables and small businesses.
I began angel investing about six years ago with a friend who had a company and was raising [funds] for that company. I invested in a friend’s virtual reality company and that experience got me thinking, “Hey, how do I invest in something like this again?” Fast forward six years later, I have been doing a lot of different things with the startup community in Minnesota but have been trying to branch out to the Greater Lakes region, specifically Detroit and Chicago. I have some sweat equity, I’ve invested in a few different companies and people have reached out to me for investment. So, it’s been cool to see that progression from when I first invested with a friend to where I am now and trying to get other people to do the same.
How did you hear about the Catalyst Angel Program?
I heard about the Catalyst Angel Program through Mickayla Rosard. Mickayla is a mover and shaker in the Minnesota startup ecosystem. She’s a partner at Groove Capital, a venture fund based out of Minnesota, and she shares a lot of the same passions as I do, getting others into the investing circle.
What is the most impactful part of the program?
The most impactful part is learning the fundamentals of angel investing because when I started, I didn’t know what I was doing. I was always risk-seeking, but I didn’t know the fundamentals of allocation questions to ask, how startups work, the process of growing a business, equity pool capitalization tables or the different series of investing and priced rounds.
Why is angel investing so important?
Personally, angel investing helps me tap into creative expression. A startup is like a ball of undefined potential, and helping a founder realize that potential and make their vision a reality is a great feeling. Quantifiably though, the creation of business entities and the creation of wealth are most important. That first wave of capital can be life-changing for someone who wouldn’t otherwise have access to it. As a financial adviser, I’ve seen clients with businesses who didn’t make it, sometimes because they didn’t do enough market due diligence on their idea before launching. So, I’m very aware of how investment can significantly impact these outcomes, whether used to focus on promotion or the structuring of a business to more effectively penetrate the network of its potential customers.
Are there specific kinds of tech businesses you’d like to invest in?
I would say I am industry-agnostic when it comes to investing. With my medical device and sales experience, I would love to do more in the MedTech space, but any company that’s solving a legitimate problem and can prove it is an interesting investment opportunity to me.
TechTown Detroit’s Catalyst Angel Program helps emerging angel investors in the Great Lakes region who identify as Black, Latinx and/or women gain knowledge about investing, engage in curated courses through partner organizations and connect with other investors in local and national angel communities. If you’re interested in learning more, complete this interest form.