Supporting Austin’s Racial Justice coalition

The Southwest Angel Network has joined a coalition of Austin business leaders uniting to use our privilege and position to advance racial justice in our companies and communities.

Together, we are condemning racism. We are standing in solidarity with the Black community.

Announcing a follow-on investment in Shyft Power Solutions

The Southwest Angel Network  is working to support portfolio companies in these uncertain times, and is pleased to announce an incremental investment in Shyft Power Solutions.

Shyft was founded at Stanford University as a byproduct of the research of the co-founders, and facilitates the adoption of solar energy and storage in micro-grids, thereby enabling widespread access to clean, reliable and affordable energy. Shyft builds the technology that enables the transition to a decentralized, democratized and digitized energy landscape, and is focused on markets with unreliable power grids.

Follow-on investment in Family Plan

The Southwest Angel Network is please to participate in follow-on funding for Family Plan. SWAN made a seed investment in September of 2018. Since that time Family Plan has made significant  progress and has now closed a multi-million dollar round.

Family plan works to reduce the stress on a family following a divorce.  Using Family Plan, parents can manage custody scheduling on a shared calendar in real time, arrange and make payments instantaneously and with authentication, and make and log texts and emails to support open communication and maintain a reliable record. No other mobile app provides this suite of functions. This app has been developed with input from a team of divorced parents, divorce lawyers, and ex-judges to address both an important social need and a large market opportunity.

Family Plan was founded and is led by Mark and Laura MacMahon, from Maine, who founded the company for the same reason many companies are founded – they had a problem they wanted to solve, and the available solutions just weren’t good enough. In the years after Mark’s divorce, he found that he was spending hours a week just trying to stay on top of managing his schedule, finances, and communications all related to the kids. Mark and Laura decided to build a set of tools that would help families thrive after a breakup – reducing conflict along the way.

The Southwest Angel Network and COVID-19

The Southwest Angel Network continues to find attractive investment opportunities in the current COVID-19 and recession environment. We are making significant new investments in pre-seed and seed companies, and are also supporting portfolio companies.

The total dollars invested in the first four months of 2020 is larger than the total we invested in 2018, and is over 50% of the total amount invested in the twelve months of 2019.

SWAN provides follow-on funding to CURB

SWAN made a first investment in CURB in 2019, and is pleased to announce a significant follow-on investment that will assist the company in its rapid revenue growth.

CURB provides an interactive energy efficiency solution that enables homeowners to reduce electricity consumption by up to 20%.  CURB uncovers home energy trends, pinpoints power hogs, and gives users control over their electric bill.

SWAN has invested in ClearFlame Engine Technologies, Inc

The heavy-duty engine industry is approaching a time when the rising cost of petroleum-based diesel fuel—and continued government regulation of CO2 and diesel criteria pollutants (NOx and particulates)—are leading to the decline of diesel-fueled engines. Heavy-duty engine manufacturers are aggressively seeking viable alternative technologies. ClearFlame Engine Technologies is introducing a disruptive, patented engine technology that easily integrates into existing compression ignition engine manufacturing which delivers uncompromising engine performance at a lower cost.

ClearFlame Engine Technology has the potential to reduce well over five gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Our network’s investment was part of the company’s $3M funding round.

Angel Investing in Challenging Times

Please see this helpful article. The article points out that “three of our [Lauchpad’s] highest return investments were made during the depths of the 2008-2009 recession. More modest valuations, less competition for talent, and strong positioning for economic recovery were a rare combination to drive outsized portfolio returns”.

A Perspective on Prospering in Uncertain Economic Times

I have been around startup companies for 35 years and have experienced both good and bad economic cycles. We have  now entered uncertain times.

That said, from a company’s point of view, a financial down turn can be a good time to create an early-stage  start-up.

  1. There will be fewer competitors of your same vintage, which can help lesson competition in the marketplace and with investors. This advantage persists over time. As the economy recovers from a downturn, companies will see fewer other companies at their specific stage of fund-raising. Said another way, when your company becomes a teenager, there will not be many teenagers around vying for attention.
  2. Operating costs often get more reasonable (e.g., lower cost of office space)
  3. It can be easier to bring on early employees (who may have been laid off)

And from personal experience, I know that a down turn is a really difficult time to for a company to raise a many million-dollar, later-stage VC round. During the 2008 recession, I had to sell my company at a loss to the investors because I could not raise a $12M series C round.

For investors, capital-efficient, pre-seed companies who can get by for a few years on minimal dollars suddenly looking pretty interesting. And the current environment means that pre-money valuations and valuation caps will be more attractive. The balance of power has shifted somewhat toward investors.

Announcing an Investment in SpeechVive

The Southwest Angel Network is pleased and excited to announce an investment in SpeechVive. SpeechVive offers a proven device that allows the majority of Parkinson’s patients to the recover the ability to carry on a conversation. This patented technology was created by co-founder Dr. Jessica Huber. The company has revenue and is poised for rapid growth.

Portfolio company Acadeum closes a $7M funding round

Acadeum was founded by 2016 and the Southwest Angel Network was one of the early investors in 2017. Acadeum, previously known as College Consortium, offers a software platform that allows universities  to share online courses. Students today can face challenges with earning a degree on a timely basis because the students are burdened by a lack of access to needed classes at the needed time. Making classes more available can increase graduation rates and decrease the time to graduation.

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