Angel Investors at Thunderbird: The Pitch Night

Photo courtesy Brad Hoffa

By Alina Buzgar, Editor-in-Chief

Thunderbird Angel Network (TAN) Event took place on March 31 and was a great opportunity for startups to present their business ideas and seek angel investor funding. The event, hosted by Dr. Gary Gibbons, organized by Brad Hoffa (MGM ’17, US) and Nicole Meacham (MGM ’17, US), was deemed a great success by participants and investors alike.

The pitch night kicked-off with networking and dinner, followed by company presentations, due diligence teams recommendations, and investor negotiations. Three companies, identified through gust.com and BioAccel (a biotech startup incubator in the Phoenix area), pitched their ideas and requested capital from the investors present. Omni Bioceuticals is a skin treatment and care solutions focused on treating post-operation and anti-aging skin concerns. Right Bio Metrics is an operational risk reducing technology that addresses the problem of accurately measuring bio fluids to enhance the speed and quality of medical treatment without incurring substantial costs. Truce is a toxin-free cleaning supply company focused on residential cleaning supplies through retail outlets and online direct sales.

The angels are an assembly of Thunderbird professors and affluent community members in their network. Many, if not all, have previous experience starting or running companies and are looking to provide their expertise and investment in exchange for ownership in a startup.

Due diligence teams are run by students paired based on their skills and interests from across all programs MBA, MGM, MAGAM, EMBA and even the undergrad program. The teams conducted the pre-work (due diligence) on each of the companies presenting. “This is a typical step in any investment decision and giving this real-world experience to Thunderbird students is an amazing and unique opportunity. The teams worked under the supervision of Dr. Gary Gibbons and Dr. Lewis Rutherfurd, who held two workshops leading up to the event to prepare students. Investors made several comments about the high quality of work the due diligence teams performed, and declared themselves very impressed” says Nicole. Dawson Law (MGM ’17, US) who was part of one of the due diligence teams says, “I was very interested to investigate real businesses and hear their pitch. Such a great hands-on experience! Due diligence is both easy and challenging in our world with so much information at our fingertips. Finding information on a entrepreneur or the company isn’t always hard, finding the right information is the most difficult.”

Photo courtesy Brad Hoffa
Photo courtesy Brad Hoffa

Brad says, “The most difficult part is capturing all the moving pieces into a three-hour event. Between the companies that are aggressively expanding their businesses, to the student teams from different cohorts (including EMBA and Underbirds) to the investors who are very busy, organizing this event provides a quickly moving target.” Nicole adds that the “most difficult aspect of the event is confirming the companies that will be presenting. Being a start-up seems to cause disorganization for some companies and uncertainty of presentation readiness. TAN would like to hold another investor meeting this summer, to keep the momentum going.”

When asked about his take-away learning from this event, Dawson says: “Practice. Practice. Practice is necessary to be successful when pitching to investors. It was really amazing to see the difficult questions thrown at entrepreneurs on technical medical device products. Talking to investors who aren’t necessarily familiar with the technology was really interesting.”

“The TAN Investor Meeting was very successful, with each of the three companies receiving lots of interest from the investors. Under the supervision of Dr. Gary Gibbons, the due diligence teams presented very impressive work, showing thorough research and analysis. I look forward to our next event this summer or fall” adds Nicole. Brad agrees and says, “TAN, like many dormant Thunderbird programs, has come back to life with a renewed passion to be the number one most active angel network in Arizona. We meet quarterly and are looking for ways to increase the frequency and potency of the events.”

Check out the article from 2012 about TAN and get in touch with Brad or Nicole if you have questions.

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