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ANGEL INVESTORS

The Great Lakes: Home to 'South Bay Bessie' and the Most Active Angel Investors in the Country

Where are angel investors putting their money? It's not just about California anymore.
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Where are angel investors putting their money? Wisconsin.

No joke. According to a new report issued by Silicon Valley Bank, the Angel Resource Institute, and CB Insights, the Great Lakes region was the most active U.S. geography for angel investors in the first quarter of 2014.

Together, the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Illionis, Indiana, and Ohio accounted for 17 percent of angel deals. That compares to about 18 percent in California but just 13 percent in New England and 12 percent in New York.

Here's which regions are getting the angel dollars.

Robert Wiltbank, a contributing associate professor at Willamette University, who worked on the report, says it's too soon too tell if the spike in Great Lakes deals is a one-time phenomenon or the beginning of a trend. But he does say some angels in the region did some "really solid, co-invested deals" with early-stage venture capitalists this time around, in both the medical devices and the technology industries.

Wisconsin Investment Partners showed up on the list of the 10 most active angel investing groups, but then again so did Sand Hill Angels and Tech Coast Angels, both based in California.

Angels' preference for the Great Lakes is certainly not mirrored at the next stage of funding--venture capital--where investors also prefer to stick close to home. Data from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association shows that only five percent of venture capital makes its way to the Midwest, with California eating up 54 percent.

Other stats from the report will no doubt fuel the are-we-in-a-bubble argument:

  • Valuations are up. The median pre-money valuation for a company receiving angel financing jumped 10 percent.
  • Rounds are bigger. The amount of investment a company is likely to receive in its angel round has also grown: the average is now $1.23 million, up 12 percent from last quarter and up 29 percent from a year ago.

Angel investors are also increasingly content to invest alone, without micro-vcs or others as co-investors. About 41 percent of deals are done by angels working on their own, compared to just 26 percent a year ago.

Last updated: Aug 7, 2014

KIMBERLY WEISUL | Staff Writer | Inc.com Editor-at-Large

Kimberly Weisul is editor-at-large at Inc. and co-founder of One Thing New, the digital media startup that is rebooting women's content. She was previously a senior editor at BusinessWeek.




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