Grand Angels Report Highlights Record-Breaking Year

Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor — 

According to an annual report highlighting key milestones, Grand Angels, one of Michigan’s busiest angel-investing collectives, had a record-breaking year in 2015.

Last year, Grand Angels invested $3.5 million in 12 deals, bringing the total amount of capital deployed since it launched in 2004 to $19.6 million. Compared to 2014, Grand Angels increased its total investment portfolio by nearly 20 percent in 2015, and the group predicts it will surpass $20 million deployed during the first quarter of 2016. (The report is expected to be released in full next month.)

That might not sound like much, but it represents significant growth. Ten years ago, angel investing was almost uncharted territory for Michigan investors as the state lacked a bona fide angel investing culture. Since then, Grand Angels has worked hard to recruit accredited investors, said board chair Paul D’Amato, and now has about 40 members pooling capital and sharing due diligence duties. The national Angel Resource Institute’s Halo Report also recently named Grand Angels among the top three angel groups in the Great Lakes region based on cumulative deals between 2010 and 2015.

“It’s the first time Grand Angels has made the list,” D’Amato said. “Interest is growing and our membership is growing. All the companies we’ve invested in so far have been from Michigan, and we’re excited about that, too.”

In 2015, Grand Angels celebrated a few milestones. It launched its second fund, called the GA Venture Fund II, focused on early-stage technology and life sciences companies with a clear path to exit. In 2015, the GA Venture Fund II backed five startups and is expected to fund a total of 15. D’Amato said Grand Angels has a number of members with deep ties to the advanced manufacturing and life science sectors, which has helped the fund zero in on promising startups.

The group’s portfolio companies also shined in 2015. ProNAi Therapeutics blew everyone away with its $138 million IPO last summer; same-day delivery startup Zipments was acquired by San Francisco’s Deliv in November for an undisclosed amount; and Tetra Discovery Partners and HistoSonics raised enough money to move forward on clinical trials.

D’Amato said Grand Angels plans to continue its brisk pace this year. The group is actively looking to fund new startups with cutting-edge technology, he said.

“We want to help build world-class companies in Michigan,” he added. “We have great, high-tech companies here, and what they’re developing has real-world applications—a lot of it is really groundbreaking. We’re happy to be a part of it.”