Supporting New Mexico start-ups is key to long-term prosperity - Albuquerque Journal

Supporting New Mexico start-ups is key to long-term prosperity

Matthew Ennis

I’m in the rare position of being both an angel investor and a recipient of angel investor funding from New Mexico Angels and their networks.

I’ve been on the ground floor with many New Mexico start-ups including NTx, Lumidigm, GNI and Build with Robots. So I truly can see the importance of our community ecosystem when it comes to supporting and growing New Mexico’s innovation economy.

Why do I feel it’s imperative to support the start-up community with funding? In a nutshell — it’s the way we build our economic ecosystem to create more jobs and diversity of jobs for our families and future generations of New Mexicans. It’s not a secret that New Mexico has been reliant on federal funding, and investing and supporting successful start-ups is one of the most promising paths to diversify and strengthen our economy. We want our young people to have the opportunity to enjoy a challenging and satisfying career in New Mexico, and building a diverse economy is the way we do that.

Being an angel investor carries risk. Not all start-ups will succeed and even fewer will make you a great return on your money. But that said, in New Mexico, you will have the opportunity to invest in the best start-ups, which would not be available to a typical angel in Silicon Valley.

In the Land of Enchantment, we have something other states do not — the rare advantage of three national labs: the Air Force Research Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory. These labs, with the support of New Mexico Economic Development Department, have numerous programs that provide New Mexico small businesses with access to expertise, equipment and scientific brain power not available to businesses outside of New Mexico.

There is also a great inter-connected economic development support system across local, regional and state level entities. It requires the support of the full community to build a successful company from scratch.

The bottom line is great ideas and technology need funding to build solutions that engage the commercial markets enabling the creation of sustainable businesses. And then even more funding is needed to have those companies thrive and to become cornerstones of New Mexico’s economic future.

Build With Robots took off in 2020 when we commercialized automation technology for spaces where there wasn’t a lot of automation. We raised $5 million from angel investors, and have leveraged support from NMEDD, which has allowed the company to grow throughout New Mexico, Texas and Arizona. We launched a second round of founding to fuel new products and national expansion. Our bookings for 2021 exceeded $5 million and we are continuing to grow. Our New Mexico workforce has grown from two founders to 30 full-time equivalents. And those numbers will also continue to grow.

None of our success would be possible without that initial cash infusion that came so generously from angel investors. I encourage all businesspeople in New Mexico to get involved with our robust start-up scene, as an investor, a supporter, or a mentor. Together we will see New Mexico thrive in unprecedented ways.

Editor’s Note: Throughout 2022, New Mexico Angels’ members, investors and start-up owners will be writing columns on economic development and start-up opportunities in the state. The Angels unite individual investors to pool their resources, providing seed and early-stage capital to startup companies.

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