CROWN POINT | Northwest Indiana is now home to its own so-called "angel" investment group, the Lakeshore ArchAngels.
Angel investment groups generally are composed of local individuals who provide capital for new businesses usually in exchange for ownership equity.
The term "angel" originally comes from Broadway where it was used to describe wealthy individuals who provided money for theatrical productions.
Lakeshore ArchAngels was formed after Frank Szczepanski, cofounder and CEO of IVDiagnostics, a local company and tenant at the Purdue technology center in Merrillville, approached Dr. Ursula Saqui last summer about forming a local angel investment group.
“I said yes, that really is something that is missing in Northwest Indiana,” Saqui said. “We have these great educational institutions. We have a strong small-business community. In terms of closing that gap, how do you get people who have an education and want to do something innovative into a functioning business model? They need funding.”
Saqui, owner of Saqui Research in Crown Point, said she did what she does for a living -- she researched the idea. She now is managing director of the Lakeshore ArchAngels.
“This is really key for me,” Saqui said. “This wasn’t just another feel-good initiative for the region. If we were going to do it, I wanted to do it well and I wanted it to be sustainable. Once you get people excited about something like this you have an obligation to follow through.”
An advisory board was formed and met last fall.
“We put the structure in place and started meeting in April and bringing in businesses from the Midwest to present and get investors from the community aware of what we are doing,” Saqui said.
The April 24 meeting, which was held in the Purdue Technology Center in Merrillville, was attended by representatives from the Chicago ArchAngels, Elevate Ventures, R Four Inc., Region 5 SBDC, Ernest &Young, and entrepreneurs from area businesses.
Three companies gave presentations on their business plans: Concordance Health, of West Lafayette; IVDiagnostics Inc., a Purdue Technology Center-NWI tenant; and Social Media Analytics, of Naperville, Ill.
Saqui said Szczepanski’s IVDiagnostics received funding from an investor for its biomedical technology, which offers a unique solution for monitoring circulating tumor cells without drawing blood.
The nonprofit Lakeshore ArchAngels meets at 10 a.m. the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is May 22. Meetings are by invitation only and open to accredited investors, as defined by the Securities and Exchange Commission, who may also bring a guest. A committee screens business plans and companies for potential investment and for presenting to the group.
Companies interested in working with Lakeshore ArchAngels must operate within the areas of innovative information technology, business services, industrial technology, financial services, consumer or industrial products, or healthcare services or technology.