Innovation costs money. And money isn’t something many start-up companies have much of, even if the ideas they aim to bring to life are great. That’s why the Carolina Angel Network (CAN) exists.
It’s a newly developed UNC-based network that partners start-ups with bigger companies that act like an “angel” and provide advice, networks and funding.
“Much of our technologies and ideas that come out of UNC’s programs needed funding,” said CAN Managing Director Randy Myer. “They’re some really interesting and great technologies but without funding to get them commercialized, we’re getting frustrated that they were not getting there.”
Myer said the network will consist of all types of Carolina-affiliates.
“People who have alumni connections to UNC or donors or parents of students or alums have become members of an organization that is going to help fund early-stage start-ups at UNC,” he said.
Myer said the network is part of a 10-year effort to teach execution of entrepreneurship. He said there are already many different resources for students or recent graduates, but this new project takes it even further.
“I think it’s a commitment that’s been going on for 10 years,” he said. “And it’s just one more step in that process that we’re undertaking now.”
CAN is also partnering with NC State and Duke, schools that have both already formed similar networks of funding and support. Myer said all three are working to pool their resources to provide the best matches with angel companies and start-ups.
“What’s important, which is kind of unusual, is that the three universities are working together,” he said. “We have a weekly call that we do, we’re looking at our first deal together because that company has connections to all three universities, so it’s exciting to see the three universities working together and certainly the help from Duke has been great.”
The network currently has 38 members after two months of recruiting. Myer said he expects to recruit up to 200 members over the next three years in both in the triangle area and across the country.
“I think the visibility of being able to have a network of alumni elsewhere who are looking for deals is a real positive in this particular case,” he said.
To be considered for membership, applicants must be accredited investors and Carolina alumni, donors, parents, faculty or staff. The company also must undergo an application and vetting process. Click here for more information on joining the network.