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.

Christina Gorczynski joins the Board of Directors of the Southwest Angel Network

The Southwest Angel Network is pleased and excited to have Christina Canales Gorczynski join our Board of Directors.

Christina is the Executive Director of Impact Austin, a dynamic women’s collective giving organization that cultivates collective wisdom and strength to transform ourselves and our communities. Christina is also a licensed attorney and certified mediator with the State Bar of Texas.

Previously, Christina served as a Program Officer at the Simmons Foundation, specializing in advocacy and reproductive health. Prior to that, she was the Principal Consultant at First Person LLC, a Texas-based consulting firm specializing in advocacy and capacity building for nonprofits, private foundations and social enterprises. Christina started her career serving as the Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of the Houston Area, and to this day, will ask you if you are registered to vote within five minutes of meeting you.

For her work empowering women and girls to seek equity through education and advocacy, Christina was named an “Inspiring Latina” by Latina Magazine, honored for youth and online engagement by the League of Women Voters of the US, received the Young Alumni Award from her alma mater Beloit College, and selected for an Equal Justice Works public interest law fellowship.

Christina never walks away from a tough fight and she’s spent her life advocating for vulnerable communities, especially people living with disabilities and LGBTQ folks. Christina currently serves on the City of Austin’s LGBTQ Quality of Life Commission.

Christina holds a BA in Women’s Studies from Beloit College in Wisconsin, a JD/MBA from the University of Houston and a Nonprofit Finance Certificate from Rice University. Christina is a graduate of Leadership Houston (Class 30) and the Leadership Texas Power Pipeline program.

Christina lives in Austin and her free time is filled with fun, friendship, yoga, playing outdoors and her beloved partner, Ms. Brett Merfish.

Christina’s experience will bring fresh perspectives to the SWAN Board of Directors, and will help further SWAN’s goals of investing in companies who are working to mitigate environmental damage and promote clean energy, and in companies who are working to reduce social disparities, including addressing inequalities in health, educational and economic achievement, and treatment by the criminal justice system


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.

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