On Thursday, July 18, the Wolfpack Investor Network (WIN), NC State University’s angel investing network, announced that it has reached $10 million in investments since its inception in December of 2016. The 18 companies who have received funding carry strong NC State ties and are led by founders putting Think and Do to work every day in their respective industries. The $10 million comprises almost $9 million from individual member investors, $450,000 from the university’s Seed Capital Endowment Fund (SCEF) and $1.22 million from the Venture Capital Multiplier Fund (VCMF), managed by Hatteras Ventures Partners and Fulcrum Equity Partners’ Alston Gardner.
WIN is part of the Triangle Venture Alliance, a partnership between NC State, Carolina Angel Network (UNC-Chapel Hill) and the Duke Angel Network (Duke University) to co-invest in opportunities where there is a connection to more than one university represented on the management team or in the IP portfolio.
“WIN’s growth has been incredible,” remarked Co-Managing Director Brett Danforth. “It speaks to the quantity and quality of early-stage companies coming out of NC State as well as the eagerness of our 150 alumni and university-affiliated member investors to fund and support those companies.”
College of Engineering alumnus and CEO of EventOPS Willy Stewart presents at a WIN meeting.
As part of an angel network, WIN members make individual investment decisions about the opportunities presented. The WIN staff meets with more than 150 companies seeking capital every year, assessing the fit for the network based on stage, capital need, product or service, traction in the market and team competence. The team then presents eight to ten investment opportunities to the membership each year at in-person meetings and via video for members who may not be able to attend the live event. WIN also leverages MBA students from Poole College of Management to assist with diligence for the presented companies.
“The WIN management team brings only high growth potential startup companies to the member pitch sessions and is thorough in answering questions during the diligence and commitment process,” noted WIN member Sonali Luniya, co-founder and chief customer officer of Patagonia Health. “Member attendance at pitch sessions is strong, which provides a great opportunity to meet members from various professional backgrounds and regions of North Carolina.”
The way that the Wolfpack Investor Network engages current students, entrepreneurs building companies and some of NC State’s most entrepreneurial and successful alumni is remarkable and is a vital piece of our growing entrepreneurial ecosystem.
NC State’s leadership champions the growth of entrepreneurship on campus and in the broader NC State community, supporting the collaborative opportunities offered by WIN. Regarding WIN’s impact on the university, Chancellor Randy Woodson remarked, “The way that the Wolfpack Investor Network engages current students, entrepreneurs building companies and some of NC State’s most entrepreneurial and successful alumni is remarkable and is a vital piece of our growing entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
WIN members meet to hear pitches from vetted, high-growth potential startups.
Angel investors typically provide capital to early-stage companies when the company has surpassed the “friends and family” stage, but is not yet ready for the full venture capital stage. Networks like WIN make the process of raising angel capital more efficient by reducing the number of times an entrepreneur has to present his or her company. Additionally, the group format creates a fun and relaxed atmosphere where members see deal flow and angel investing as more approachable, which can be helpful for less experienced investors.
WIN member Brian Handly, founder and CEO of WIN portfolio company Reveal Mobile, reflected on the impact the network has had on his company, “In addition to the money invested by WIN, they have played a key role for Reveal Mobile in providing strategic expertise as well as social capital from the network of investors and the WIN team.”
Describing his experience as an investor, Handly shared, “From the investor perspective, being a member of WIN has provided access to deal flow and due diligence on opportunities that I don’t have the time or expertise to pursue. The affiliation with NC State brings together a diverse group of professionals, that all have a common bond to the University. [WIN is] A great way to invest, explore opportunities and network.”
More about WIN: The Wolfpack Investor Network (WIN) was launched in December of 2016 as a university-affiliated nonprofit LLC and showcases the university’s entrepreneurial ecosystem by curating university-affiliated investment opportunities for its investor members. WIN provides members with an investment platform as well as an opportunity to collaborate and network with other like-minded alumni, parents, and friends of the university who are interested in early stage investing. Since its inception two and a half years ago, WIN has collectively invested over $10 million into 18 university-affiliated companies spanning industries such as food science, medical devices, advanced materials, and therapeutics. WIN has received support from the Chancellor’s Fund, Kenan Institute for Engineering Technology & Science, Office of Research Commercialization, Academic Outreach and Entrepreneurship, the Economic Development Administration, NC IDEA, and the Poole College of Management. To find out more about the Wolfpack Investor Network, please visit the website.