Alamo Angels Aims to Expand Investing Footprint as Dizon Takes Helm
San Antonio—[Corrected 9/19/18, 8:15 a.m. See below.] Cat Dizon recently met with the founders of a San Antonio startup focused on cancer research, a complicated area of healthcare that is more often than not a highly risky investment proposition.
Dizon is experienced in the startup world: She is a partner at investment firm Active Capital and worked for more than four years searching for startups that cloud computing giant Rackspace might want to acquire. Cancer research, however, is a new field for her. Earlier this month, Dizon took over as executive director at San Antonio angel investment group Alamo Angels. As she settles into the new position, she says she and her team are relying on the group’s network of angel investors to help her and her team parse through new deals spanning many industries as Alamo Angels tries to diversify its investments.
“We’re realizing that we have amazing expertise in the network and we’re using that to make thoughtful investment decisions for Alamo Angels,” says Dizon, who is keeping her role at Active Capital even as she adds Alamo Angels to her resume.
Dizon is interested in investing in industries that Alamo Angels hasn’t deeply funded since its founding two years ago, such as life science and cybersecurity. She also wants to expand name recognition of the young network in San Antonio and throughout Texas. (Alamo Angels only invests in Texas companies, particularly in San Antonio.)
“I like to step into something that’s in place and really optimize it,” Dizon says. “Does all of San Antonio know about Alamo Angels? I’m still meeting groups that have never heard about us.”
Alamo Angels has made 12 investment deals since its founding. Its portfolio companies include Austin-based travel startup Localeur, and San Antonio tech startups HelpSocial and Parlevel. The network made its first life science investment with Progenerative Medical, which raised a $1.5 million seed round of funding in August. The group raised a $1.2 million syndicate earlier this year to invest $100,000 each in 12 startups, Dizon says. It has made five deals already, and the other seven investments were completed before the syndicate was formed, she says.
Dizon is replacing Chris Burney, who was hired as the first executive director of the angel network after its launch in 2016. Burney, who is staying on the angel network’s board of directors and investment committee, is taking a job as the chief financial officer of Dura Holdings, Dura is a San Antonio company that acquires and operates SaaS businesses that was founded by Michael Girdley and Paul Salisbury. Girdley is one of the co-founders of the angel network, along with Pat Matthews, who is the founder of Active Capital, the tech investing firm at which Dizon also works. [Corrected to clarify Dura Holdings’ operations.]
San Antonio may be a large city, but the number of early stage investors there had been limited until the last few years. More venture capital firms and angel investors are now popping up. That can be seen as a response to San Antonio’s burgeoning startup scene, which was in part sparked by the founding of co-working space Geekdom in 2011. Since then, Girdley also co-founded Geekdom Fund and RealCo, an accelerator program. Scaleworks, an investment firm that buys software-as-a-service startups (Active Capital and Dura also focus on SaaS businesses), also opened its doors. [Corrected a misspelled name.]
Meanwhile, VelocityTX has been broadly working on boosting both tech and life science startups, and Fountainhead Investment partners founded a life science incubator in San Antonio. Targeted Technology is a longtime investor in the city’s life sciences sector.
The Alamo Angels position intrigued Dizon because it allows her to engage with both startups, like she did at Rackspace, and investors seeking to help entrepreneurs achieve their goals. She believes her dual roles at Alamo Angels and Active Capital will help guide entrepreneurs who are deciding whether to take an investment, and in what form they’ll take it.
“I get really energized and excited by the workload, and how everything comes together for a company when they secure funding,” Dizon says. “We want to have an engaged group of angel investors that will not only provide the capital but have the background and expertise to act as a resource.”
Dizon also hopes that her leadership role in San Antonio investing will encourage more female startup founders to seek out venture investments, and it might even encourage more women to invest in startups, too. She says she also hopes to help startups with diverse leadership find funding.
“Having someone very similar to you leading this type of network, maybe you feel like it could open some doors for you—because it can,” Dizon says.