September 20, 2023

Activating the Next Generation of Minnesota-Based Angel Investors

I'm thrilled to announce that I've joined the Forge North team, which includes leadership from GREATER MSP and Groove Capital. We are collaborating to help create more pathways for angel investors like myself to support startups in our Minnesota ecosystem.

Throughout my career, I have had the privilege of supporting founders and entrepreneurs on their journeys to disrupt the status quo and build innovative companies. I’ve worked for one of the first co-working spaces in Minnesota, where many of the startups we celebrate today got started. I've mentored early-stage founders through accelerator programs, and I've held leadership roles at sales and marketing firms supporting the backbone of our economy; small businesses and emerging startups.

During that time, I've had the pleasure of getting to know the builders and leaders of local companies such as Dispatch, Invenshure, Players Health, Nice Healthcare, CloseSimple, BetterYou, Leadpage, and Nordic Waffles who choose to call our state home.

There is no denying the economic impact startups like these are having on our community, from job creation to inspiring other builders to enter the arena.

However, there is more work to be done from the capital allocation side of the table, and I'm looking forward to contributing to that effort.

All that being said, a thriving ecosystem doesn't happen by chance. Minnesota's public and private sectors, as well as nonprofits focused on fostering innovation, have been investing in the infrastructure needed to promote founders' success for years.

From my perspective, these organizations and initiatives fall into three categories:

1. A thriving entrepreneurial community: Founders need a supportive ecosystem and a network of those who came before them, willing to share their earned wisdom, as they launch and grow their ventures.

2. Incubators and accelerators: Knowledge is power, and founders require access to valuable information and resources to grow. Initiatives focused on providing guidance and support for everything from market research and product development to fundraising strategies, and mentorship are crucial, ultimately helping entrepreneurs navigate the complexities of their startup journey.

3. Capital opportunities: Access to capital is pivotal for generating opportunities and fueling growth. Investment firms, startup incubators, and corporate venture funds all contribute to the availability of funding for promising startups.

For more details on some of the initiatives and resources in these categories designed to support the founders in our ecosystem, I recommend visiting this MSP Startup Guide.

Even with all the startup-focused initiatives I've listed above and initiatives to encourage new investors, such as the Angel Tax Credit, Angel Fest, Angel Basecamp, and the Catalyst Angel MN Cohort, it takes more for a startup community to thrive. Specifically, despite all the great work being done, there remains an unmet need: more angel investors like you with a desire to both unlock and benefit from the untapped potential in our ecosystem.

Why does this work matter to me? The answer is simple: our son.

We are entering a season of incredible opportunity and innovation fueled by technology, such as generative AI, and entrepreneurs who see humanity's biggest challenges not as un-addressable problems but as opportunities worthy of their talents. I believe the next generation of angel investors will provide the fuel that makes the future he'll grow up in being built by these founders possible.

Outside of believing in the entrepreneurial talent and opportunities here in Minnesota in general, my own investment thesis centers on forging a new blueprint for generational wealth by reframing the investment narrative surrounding founders who don't fit the traditional founder profile, specifically female founders and founders from underrepresented communities.

To unlock the potential and see returns from the companies these founders will build, we need a more diverse group of angels, including diversity of age, gender, life stage, lived experiences, professional background, and industry. We also need more angels who understand the lived experiences of these founders, who have the insights needed to reframe the narratives often surrounding their challenges, who see them as assets that make them more resilient leaders, and who are willing to be a part of their journey as well as share in the success of their ventures. Angels like you.

I'm a firm believer that access to information creates opportunities, so as part of the Angel Activation Campaign, I'll be making content from the angel's perspective more accessible through LinkedIn. I will also be working to create more opportunities for entrepreneurs, investors, business executives, and community leaders to connect, grow, and create economic opportunities together.

Let's Build.