NM Angels spread their wings again, virtually - Albuquerque Journal

NM Angels spread their wings again, virtually

The New Mexico Angels investment group will spring back into action Oct. 1 following a four-month hiatus that began May 1 during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The group, which unites individual investors who pool their resources to provide seed and early-stage capital to startup companies, will relaunch with a new board of directors, a soon-to-be-named president and a newly-minted partnership with the Rockies Venture Club in Colorado, said board chair Sherman McCorkle.

“We’ll start looking at deals with entrepreneurs again, work to recruit more investors and work with the RVC on educational seminars for both entrepreneurs and investors,” McCorkle told the Journal. “Regrettably, however, those activities will continue in a virtual framework because of the ongoing pandemic.”

Affiliation with the RVC could lead to a lot more angel investment for local startups, given the larger size and financial strength of the Colorado-based venture club, while also providing NM Angels an opportunity to invest in companies in Colorado through collaborative deals, McCorkle said.

RVC, which launched in 1985, is the oldest angel investor group in the country, with more than 200 members who consider hundreds of potential deals per year. The group has invested about $40 million in 55 companies since 2014, according to the RVC website.

It also conducts nearly 150 events per year, from monthly pitch gatherings and business accelerator activities to investor forums and educational workshops. That includes a 16-class education curriculum it developed for both entrepreneurs and investors, plus two annual conferences that attract some 300-plus participants each.

Affiliation with RVC will offer educational and networking opportunities for NM Angels while potentially providing more stability for local investor recruitment and retention.

“The problem in New Mexico is that it’s hard to keep a critical mass of angels together because there’s not enough deal flow here,” McCorkle said. “Then, for local entrepreneurs, it’s hard to get money because there’s not enough investors — kind of a chicken and egg problem. But with the RVC, there will be more opportunities to get funded because startups will pitch to a lot more investors, and that could attract more local angels to join our group because our members will have access to more potential deal flow through the RVC.”

RVC director of operations Dave Harris called the affiliation a win-win-win for investors, entrepreneurs and local communities in both states as more funding flows into deals.

“Capital has to be collaborative, and that’s where affiliation is advantageous,” Harris said. “By collaborating with the New Mexico Angels, we’ll create more opportunities in both states.”

NM Angels have invested about $20 million in dozens of companies over the past two decades. Membership has generally hovered at around 70 investors, but it’s declined somewhat in recent years, McCorkle said.

The group originally launched in 1999 as a networking organization called the New Mexico Private Investors, later formally incorporating as the NM Angels in the new millennium. Long-time local investor and entrepreneur George Richmond provided the initial impetus in 1999. McCorkle is a co-founder who became board chairman last fall.

John Chavez led the NM Angels as president for the past 12 years. But he stepped down in July to pursue new opportunities.

“I’m focusing now on a new company that just launched, although it’s still in stealth mode,” Chavez said.

The group is now interviewing candidates to replace Chavez and expects to announce a new president by Oct. 1, McCorkle said.

The new 12-member board includes many longtime NM Angel members. Board membership may soon expand to 15, opening slots for three more representatives, McCorkle said.

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