You might call Laurence Briggs an archangel among angel investors. The co-founder of The InvestIn Forum—a network of angel groups in the U.S. and Canada—spends his time networking and looking for deals to bring before his group of check writers. These days the indefatigable, adrenaline-pumped Brit is bullish on fostering an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Dallas.
Here’s how it works: an entrepreneur who has spent a few years cobbling together a company with seed money now finds a second cash infusion necessary to take business to the next level. Enter angels, individuals worth at least $1 million looking for an alternative to traditional investments—and a little high-stakes risk. If they believe in a business, they show the money.
There are roughly 300 angel groups nationwide, but what sets InvestIn apart is the education it provides new angels and the mentorship it offers entrepreneurs. “We’re showing investors things like how to negotiate a term sheet or do due diligence on a company,” Briggs says. “At the same time, a lot of our angels are cashed-out CEOs who have plenty to offer entrepreneurs in terms of ‘been there, done that.’”
The local InvestIn group has backed everything from tech firms to a beer company. Sometimes the investment pays off, sometimes not. “If you haven’t been up and down a few times, you haven’t pushed the envelope,” Briggs says.
A year ago, Briggs was behind a similar angel operation that started with around 20 member investors locally. In March, Briggs and his counterparts in other cities relaunched the group as The InvestIn Forum, placing a strong emphasis on education. Today InvestIn has around 45 area member investors, with a 200-person referral network outside Dallas. Briggs says local interest is growing fast because Dallas’ wealth (36,000 millionaires), strong knowledge base, and central geographic location make it ideal for this type of group.
Says Briggs of his vigor, “I’m built like an ox. You need energy to motivate people. It’s not a pretty logo that makes this happen.” Indeed, it’s hard work saving financial souls all day.