The Story of our Network
The Southwest Angel Network was founded by Bob Bridge. Bob has extensive experience in engineering, marketing, startup company creation and fundraising from angels and venture funds. He enjoys building business, teams, products, revenue streams, and customer relationships. He cut his start-up teeth in the tough semiconductor industry and raised $60M for the companies that he founded.
After his last start-up company would down, Bob was mentoring a number of startups while thinking about how to get his next startup off the ground. One of the young start-up teams had a social impact mission, namely helping low-income, high school youth get college scholarships. At that point, it clicked with Bob that “social impact was a lot more fun and meaningful than semiconductors!” And so he set about to build an organization rather than a company, an organization to promote the social good, namely the Southwest Angel Network.
As Bob is quick to say, “Taking care of others and being concerned about the underdog has always been part of my DNA”.
After meeting with most of the social-entrepreneurial organizations in Austin in late 2015 (and there are a bunch of them), and learning how that ecosystem worked, Bob launched the Southwest Angel Network in January 2016, initially with just five angels. The network now has twenty angels (at the end of 2017) and has invested over $1M in eight companies, with half of those companies having diverse CEOs.
The network’s largest investment has been in OneSeventeen Media, which helps kids make wiser decisions on the fly. Part live texting with on-demand virtual mentors and part self-help modules, their platform helps kids provide 5 times more information about what’s going on with them than they share face-to-face with adults. The app learns what each student needs to make better decisions, fills the growing gap in school counseling, behavior management classroom tools, and increases school attendance revenues. OneSeventeen Media is a woman-led company.
OneSeventeen’s experience in working with our network is described below by Amy Looper, a co-founder:
“The Southwest Angel Network is a match made in heaven for us, as we are a pure-play social venture, for-profit company. As Texas’ first certified B Corp and a Public Benefit Corporation, we’ve been at the forefront of the premise you can do two things well at once – have a profitable business while serving a greater good. The Southwest Angel Network is also Texas’ first angel impact network with investors who are putting their investment treasure and talents where their beliefs are. The angels at the network not only took time to understand who we are as people, they saw the potential in our business case and expertise where we can be profitable together. They came to the table sharing and supporting our passion to help kids thrive. We’ve consistently benefitted from their wisdom, expertise, insights and financial guidance.”