The Story of our Network

The Beginnings

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.

Feb 2017 Meeting

Today

As of March 2019, the network has over 30 angels and has invested over $2.5M in 15 companies, with half of those companies having diverse founders, either women or people of color.

February 2019 meeting

We are adding diverse angels and advisors. The picture below is from a March 2019 lunch attended by some of our members.

We continue to support the greater-Austin diverse community. The picture below shows SWAN Director Juan Thurman presenting a scholarship given by our network to the Austin social-impact winner of the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Startup Superstars Competition.

The network has become a recognized national leader in impact investing. Bob Bridge moderates a monthly, national impact-investor syndication call that allows Angel Capital Association (ACA) angels to share impact investment opportunities with each other. And in both 2018 and 2019, Bob has organized and led impact sessions at the annual ACA national Summit.

The network’s largest investment has been in OneSeventeen Media, co-founded by Beth carls and AmyLooperr, 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.

Co-founders Beth Carls and Amy Looper

OneSeventeen’s experience in working with our network is described below by Amy:

“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.”