We chatted with Dr. Marlo Rencher, director of technology-based programs, about angel investing and TechTown Detroit’s Catalyst Angel Program. In 2021, TechTown received a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship to unlock angel capital and diversify angel investing throughout Michigan and the Great Lakes region. The Catalyst Angel Program is made possible by this support.
Read how angel investing can contribute to job growth in your community, and how you can make an impact at a local and national level. TechTown is accepting participants on a rolling basis for the Catalyst Angel Program through March 31, 2024.
What is angel investing?
Angel investors are people who risk their own financial capital to invest in early-stage businesses – typically businesses that are unable to secure other types of financing. They often provide advice and support to the companies they invest in.
Why is angel investing important?
The high-growth companies such as Facebook/Meta, Uber, etc. that are today’s household names were once startups that solved a pressing problem. Angel investments enabled these companies to grow and thrive. So, it is important that we diversify the base of angel investors so that a wider group of founders can be supported. The economic impact of high-growth companies is significant and needs to expand to reach all communities.
Describe what makes angel investing successful.
Most successful angel investors take a scientific approach, favoring data over gut instinct. Another important factor is using inclusion as part of their approach. Join an angel investor group with a diverse membership and tap into their varied expertise to provide insight into business opportunities.
How does angel investing strengthen the business ecosystem and communities?
Angel investors try to invest in the next big thing. Ideas that could ultimately employ hundreds or thousands in their community and around the world. These angels are the bridge that can help the companies they invest in persist and ultimately thrive, which in turn creates the opportunity for employment and spin-off entrepreneurship.
What are the qualifications to participate in the Catalyst Angel Program?
We are looking for Black, Latinx and/or women investors with less than two years of experience. They must live in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio or Wisconsin. They must be accredited, investors. Accredited investors meet certain income, net asset, or education/licensing requirements mandated by the federal government. For more information, complete the TechTown Catalyst Angel Program interest form.
What makes TechTown’s Catalyst Angel Program different from other programs?
Angel investing has traditionally not been inclusive. This is a structural problem connected to wealth inequality and segregated social networks. Typically these kinds of financial topics are not openly discussed. However, in collaboration with our partners, TechTown leverages inclusion to create safe spaces to engage new angel investors. We provide training to sharpen relevant skills and experiences that build the confidence required to invest.