SWAN had a strong first quarter


Covid social distancing has continued to keep the SWAN Impact Network virtual. We look forward later this year to resuming in-person meetings. But distancing has not slowed SWAN down.

In the first quarter of 2021, SWAN’s angel membership grew by 50%. Our new members joined us from Austin, Dallas, Houston and New Mexico.

And our first quarter investment dollars equaled the total amount of investments made in 2020.

SWAN remains a national leader in social and environmental impact angel investing, with members and investments from across the US.

Announcing an Investment in Sonnest

The SWAN Impact Network is pleased to announce an investment in Sonnest. Sonnest is transforming cardiac ultrasound. Their Electrast™ is the first electrically sensitive imaging agent for assessing and monitoring the perfusion, structure, and function of the heart, allowing low cost ultrasound procedures to provide information only previously available from much higher cost scans.  Electrast™ is a contrast agent that activates with ultrasound and the heart’s local electric field if the heart tissue is perfused and viable. Sonnest allows Doctors to:

  • Analyze better data, faster. Cardiac perfusion data in point of care setting.
  • Diagnose- No cath lab needed. Most cost-effective diagnosis without harmful radiation.
  • Respond – Triage and treat. Improve patient care and outcomes confidently.

Our Network’s 2020 in Review

From the Desk of Juan Thurman, Director, SWAN Impact Network

The SWAN Impact Network started 2020 excited about the year. We put forth aggressive goals and plans to achieve them. We had our first quarterly pitch dinner in person in February on the campus of St. Edwards’s University. They were great hosts and we had 3 interesting pitches, a good dinner, and a vigorous exchange of ideas.

The Impact of Covid

Then the pandemic hit. Like most, we were caught flat footed and at first did not know how to react. Then our Executive Director, Bob Bridge, and our amazing board snapped into action. We moved all our events online and in April offered a webinar, attended by 200 investors and entrepreneurs, that addressed investing during the pandemic.

Then, most importantly, we reached out to all our portfolio companies to see how they were impacted by the pandemic and if they needed help. We had productive, if difficult, discussions. Those conversations led to four of our portfolio companies receiving a follow-on investment to help them weather the covid-related economic crisis.

We found our footing mid-year and adjusted. We experienced a slowdown in Q2 that leaked into Q3. Fewer entrepreneurs applied and investors were more conservative with their capital, but we moved forward confident that things would get better and that impact investing is even more important now. The upside was that geography became less of an issue and we had more out of state and international applicants than ever before. In that spirit, our Angels selected and funded 3 new companies in 2020. And we are now, in January, funding two companies that began due diligence in 2020.

Our Good News in 2020

2020 had its share of silver linings and for that we are grateful to our angels, sponsors, entrepreneurs, associate members, interns, and the greater impact community. We ended 2020 with nearly 60 angels and having invested over $6M in social impact companies since our inception in 2015.

Some of our portfolio companies were able to raise venture capital in 2020 and one merged with a larger company. All our portfolio companies that went into the pandemic with trepidation have come out stronger and more resilient.

We have added board members and associates keeping diversity and inclusion in mind. Speaking of diversity and inclusion, we have added a chapter in Dallas and a new Executive Director, Heather Gilker, to run it. We are excited about SWAN in the big D.

Looking toward an Exciting 2021

We are off to a fast start in 2021. In January we are investing a total of over $1M in two companies from our 2020 funding cycles. And we are in the middle of our Q1 down selection process and will invite 3 promising impact startups to pitch to the network on February 11th.

We are also rebranding the network and have done a complete overhaul of our website. Southwest Angel Network has served us well, but as we continue to expand and see deals from of all over the US, we have decided to rebrand as the SWAN Impact Network.

Lastly, we have launched the SWAN Impact Fund. The fund will work alongside the network and invest in later stage deals focused on health tech and clean energy. Please keep an eye out for a more formal announcement in the coming months.

If you have impact investing in your 2021 plans or are interested in learning more please visit our website, swanimpact.org and connect.

2020 Follow on Investments:
OneSeventeen Media
Family Plan

2020 Initial Investments
Don’t Get Mad Get Paid


Announcing an Investment in ATX LED

After performing extensive due diligence, the SWAN Impact Network is pleased to announce that it has led the investment in ATX LED. ATX LED is revolutionizing residential home lighting with a next-generation architecture that extends LED lights’ operating lives, supports advanced smart home automation, and significantly reduces the cost of installing lighting in new homes, by reducing labor and copper costs.

What Angels are saying about Impact Investing

Thinking about becoming an impact investor? Are your thoughts and questions the same or different from others? What are they saying?

The Southwest Angel Network recently conducted a survey regarding what makes impact investing attractive and what holds back a decision to become an impact investor.

Here is what we learned.

Why SWAN angels joined SWAN

Survey Question: When you were personally considering joining SWAN what were the top two most compelling factors that most attracted you?

Survey Answers: For SWAN angels, by far the biggest appeal was a desire to make a positive impact on the world. Secondly, many of the angels had no prior angel investing experience and wanted to learn about investing. SWAN is structured to provide that education.

What potential angels liked about SWAN

Survey Question: When our SWAN angels have introduced SWAN to other potential angels, what are the ideas that most strongly resonate?

Answer: Just like the folks who have joined, potential angels like our impact mission, and the ability to learn about angel investing.

What holds people back from becoming Impact Angels

Survey Question: We asked our angels what their pre-joining concerns were and also what concerns they heard when introducing SWAN to potential angels.

Survey Answers: The primary concerns were the amount of investment dollars required , the amount of time required and their lack of experience in angel investing.

The good news is that SWAN assumes that new angels have no startup investment experience. We encourage new SWAN angels to not start investing until they have benefited from our educational webinars and have observed how our experienced angels think about assessing investment risks during our down-selection and due diligence processes.

Further, SWAN does not have a required minimum investment amount. Rather, we suggest that angels think top-down about how much of their assets they are willing to put into Impact investing, and then determine how to use that budget to build a portfolio of 20 investments over a period of years.

And typical of the 80/20 rule, some of our angels enjoy spending significant time advancing the mission of SWAN. And for others, the perfectly reasonable commitment of time is attending our quarterly pitch events, and reading the due diligence reports that SWAN has produced as the final step before we ask angels if they would like to invest in a company that has made it through our rigorous evaluation process.

SWAN CEOs recognized as “Ten to Watch: Young Climate Entrepreneurs”


Climate &  Capital Media’s “Ten to Watch” list highlight leaders delivering real change to address the world’s growing climate emergency. Ten to Watch represents an important group of young entrepreneurs offering economic and financial climate solutions. From low-cost energy for the developing world and unconventional collaborative financing systems to software control of energy systems and kinetic energy generation, these leaders are working to address some of the biggest issues of energy and climate change.

The Top Ten includes SWAN portfolio CEOs Ugwem Eneyo, the founder of  SHYFT Power Solutions and Omeed Badkoobeh, the founder of Yotta Energy.

SWAN Joins The Texas Global Health Security Consortium

The Texas Global Health Security Innovation Consortium (TEXGHS) is a consortium between Texas academia, public sector, and private sector partners to coordinate efforts to support companies working towards pandemic readiness, response, recovery and resiliency in Texas.

Organized by the Austin Technology Incubator at The University of Texas at Austin, TEXGHS is leading the creation and long-term growth of a health security innovation ecosystem that supports innovators and innovations fighting COVID-19 and future pandemics.

Announcing a North Texas Chapter of the Southwest Angel Network

The Southwest Angel Network (SWAN) is pleased to announce the creation of a North Texas chapter of our organization. This chapter will provide local support for impact investors located in the Dallas and Ft. Worth metropolis. This exciting new development will be in collaboration with Social Venture Partners Dallas (SVP Dallas). SVP Dallas, founded over 20 years ago, has over 200 partners in the Dallas area and provides pro-bono consulting to non-profits and social enterprises throughout the metroplex. SVP Dallas has also made impact investments in early stage companies and wants to expand their activities around impact investing in the Metroplex.

Heather Gilker is the founding Executive Director of the North Texas branch, and has joined SWAN’s Board of Directors. Heather is also a partner at SVP Dallas and currently oversees its Portfolio Review Committee. Heather is excited for SWAN and SVP Dallas to work together to build a more robust impact investment ecosystem specifically in Dallas/Ft. Worth and Texas more broadly.

Bob Bridge, the founder of SWAN shared, “SWAN is excited to have SVP Dallas and Heather join in our network’s work of investing in those young companies who are striving to address serious societal and environmental challenges. And while SWAN currently has angel investors from across the country including Dallas, this is the first time we have made a focused effort to expand our well-proven operating model into a specific location outside of Austin”.

The collaboration with SVP Dallas will enable SWAN to join SVP Dallas’ current robust network which includes its incredible group of dedicated partners, foundations and other DFW organizations. SVP Dallas Partners will have an opportunity to join SWAN as part of their SVP Dallas membership at an expanded level of membership which will roll-out over the next few months. “This collaboration with SWAN is just one of the initiatives that SVP Dallas is undertaking to provide the opportunity for its partners and ecosystem to gain greater access to impact investment opportunities”, according to Tony Fleo, Executive Director of SVP Dallas.

Heather Gilker joins the SWAN Board of Directors

The Southwest Angel Network is pleased to announce that Heather Gilker has joined its Board of Directors, and that Heather will also serve as the Executive Director of a newly-formed North Texas branch of the Southwest Angel Network.

Having spent 25+ years focused in financial services, including working inside a single family office on portfolio management and investments, Heather has developed a deep understanding of the complexities family offices and ultra-wealthy families face. Tokalon Advisors provides consultative services to ultra-high net worth families and non-profit organizations with a focus on sustainability. Services offered for families of wealth include investment allocation and due diligence, family office formation and best practices, succession planning, philanthropic strategy, and next generation education. Services for non-profits included strategic planning and business development.

Ms. Gilker is an investment executive with a proven track record of success in the ultra-high net worth and family office market. Heather is recognized as a consultative, solutions-oriented professional, who builds relationships and helps to solve problems. She is a seasoned investment professional, having worked as a portfolio manager for a family office, an allocator of institutional funds and a commercial banker. Heather is known as a strategic thinker, investor, and relationship builder.

From 2011 until 2018, she served as the first regional executive for the Southwest Region of Fidelity Family Office Services developing a strong network and foundation for the Southwest family office community.

On a personal note, when she is not working or spending time at her sons’ sporting events or theater performances, she enjoys being active in the community, as a partner at SVP Dallas, and as an advisory board member of the Center for Brain Health at UT Dallas. She also enjoys mentoring at The Capital Factory, traveling, playing tennis, and cooking for her family and friends.

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