GRAND RAPIDS — A $750,000 investment in a Grand Rapids software company made 2012 the busiest year ever for Grand Angels.
Members of the Holland-based angel investment group Grand Angels during the year made 13 investments in nine companies for nearly $2.5 million. Ten were follow-on investments into existing portfolio companies and three went to new deals, including a major investment Grand Angels made in December in Grand Rapids-based tech firm Blue Medora.
Two of the investments Grand Angels made in 2012 were syndicated, including the investment in Blue Medora that was coupled with $500,000 put into the company by Start Garden, the Grand Rapids-based $15 million pre-seed fund started by Amway scion Rick DeVos.
The 2012 activity compares with eight investments for $1.9 million in 2011 and came as post-recession deal flow in Michigan continued to improve and more people became involved in angel investing, said Jody Vanderwel, president of Grand Angels.
Grand Angels grew its ranks from 35 to 44 members in 2012.
Investors have shown an increased tendency to put their money into angel groups and invest in companies owned by local entrepreneurs, rather than for more traditional investments such as securities or bonds, because they are better able to keep track of the company’s performance, Vanderwel said.
“All of these things make these investments pretty attractive when you look at today’s investment environment,” she said.
That interest coincides with increased entrepreneurial activity as Michigan rises from the recession, generating a corresponding increase in early-stage investment prospects.
“Michigan has had a steady improvement in deal flow the last few years, and I think opportunities are going to become more attractive,” Vanderwel said.
For 2013, Grand Angels has a goal of making at least six deals for $2.2 million. The group wants to do at least three deals in 2013 with other angel networks or investing groups, continuing a push of the last few years toward more co-investing that can leverage the available capital.
The angel group also has a “reasonable chance” of recording what Vanderwel termed as a “nice” exit in 2013 from one of its existing portfolio companies. Grand Angel’s last exit was two years ago when Ann Arbor-based Accuri Cytometers was acquired by Becton, Dickinson and Co. in New Jersey.
“We’re certainly ready for another one,” Vanderwel said.
Since forming in 2004, members of Grand Angels have put more than $11 million into 25 early-stage companies.
Grand Angels is one of five angel investment groups in Michigan. A sixth is in the formative stages in Muskegon.
Muskegon Angels in December filed articles of incorporation with the state. Muskegon Angels will “invest in entrepreneurs with innovative ideas which can create jobs in the greater Muskegon, Michigan area. There will be a particular emphasis on investment in the area commonly referred to as downtown Muskegon,” the articles of incorporation stated.