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.

Heather Gilker is the founding Executive Director of the North Texas branch, and has joined the SWAN’s Board of Directors.

Bob Bridge, the founder of SWAN shared, “SWAN is excited to have Heather join in our network’s work of investing in those young companies who are striving to address serious societal and environmental changes. 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”.

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.

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”.

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