Arkansas will be a state of angels, with the Central Arkansas Angel Network expanding its scope and going statewide. Now, the organization will be known as the Ark Angel Alliance.
Since early 2020, the organization has aimed to increase investment education and spark economic development in Arkansas by aggregating angel investors. With its expanded scope, the Ark Angel Alliance aims to increase its impact on Arkansas and early-state companies throughout the state.
“The statewide approach allows us to accelerate our impact as we grow membership,” executive director Grace Rains said in a statement. “There has been angel activity happening in Arkansas for decades, but our goal is to provide a sustainable source of funding and investment opportunity. We are providing accessibility to deal flow and networking for seasoned investors and experience and education for those that are newer to investing in this asset class. And now, we’re able to take that initiative statewide”
The Ark Angel Alliance was formed to fill a void in the Arkansas investment world – namely, the lack of access to capital. Previously, the state had several resources, including the Fund for Arkansas’ Future, an investment fund that ran from 2005 to 2012 and a second fund that lasted from 2013 to 2019. The Ark Angel Alliance is building on these funds’ success and offering a new model by creating a network, in which a board of investors can make investment decisions for a larger group of investors.
Participating investors will receive access to deal flow and company information, as well as due diligence on vetted businesses. There will be monthly meetings in which companies present for potential investment.
Through the alliance, investors can evaluate investment opportunities, providing ventures with access to capital. Investors will also receive education and networking opportunities, as well as the chance to help companies scale by offering their expertise.
Ark Arkansas Alliance is led by a group of experienced entrepreneurs and ecosystem leaders. The board of directors is composed of Jeff Amerine, Dr. James Hendren, Amy Hopper, Bryan Hosto, Gary Jones and Alese Stroud. As well as serving as the executive director, Rains also serves as the director of operations for Conductor.
Angel investing is a critical part of early-stage companies’ success around the nation. While New York and Silicon Valley are typically thought of as the hot spots for investing, there are increasingly more resources for entrepreneurs outside those cities, including in Arkansas. In “The American Angel,” a 2017 study on angel investors in the United States, researchers found that 63 percent of the surveyed investors were located outside of San Francisco, New York and Boston. In fact, there were 15.4 percent of the investors in the Southeast region, which includes Arkansas.
The study, authored by Drs. Laura Huang and Andy Wu, et al., also found that 55 percent of the angel investors were previously a startup founder or CEO. This entrepreneurial background results in higher engagement from the investors, with 60 percent of angels with entrepreneurial connections taking an advisory role and 52 percent taking a board seat. By comparison, only 38 percent of investors without an entrepreneurial background took an advisory role and only 26 percent took a board role.
To learn more about Ark Angel Alliance, click here.