Midlands’ version of ‘Shark Tank’ ready to invest in big ideas

The television show “Shark Tank” has given numerous entrepreneurs a chance to present ideas to potential investors, but a Midlands group is offering a chance for local business owners to get their big break without leaving South Carolina.

Capital Angels is Columbia’s part of the South Carolina Angel Network, recently featured in Forbes magazine. The network is made up of accredited “angel investors,” who provide capital for early stage businesses. The investors are community leaders who come from all walks of life, according to Charlie Banks, managing director of Capital Angels.

“We’ve got an engaged membership with a myriad of experiences that add a tremendous amount of intellectual capital to the group.” Banks said.

He, Matt Dunbar and Paul Clark founded the Columbia group last summer as part of the expanding statewide network. They recently began to seek publicly more investors to join the more than three dozen already on board.

“We wanted to make sure this thing’s here to stay, and it’s absolutely here to stay,” Banks said. “We’re really excited about it.”

Banks said the South Carolina Angel Network fills a void in South Carolina and can make a big difference for early stage companies looking to attract investment capital.

“South Carolina has the talent. We have the entrepreneurs,” Banks said. “We even have the capital, but what we don’t have is access to capital. So what we provide is a professionally-managed avenue for investors looking to gain access to this asset class.”

The Capital Angels meet monthly to consider pitches from businesses, and Banks said it is “really the Midlands version of ‘Shark Tank,’ ” but with aspects that add to the process.

“Imagine there being about 40 sharks in the room, but with a team behind them that manages the screening, negotiating, evaluating, deal structuring, and post investment monitoring, so once it gets to the investors, it’s an opportunity,” Banks said. “However, there is no obligation to make an investment so investors can pick and choose their investments in order to build their portfolio.”

Banks said the group also provides additional advantages for the investors. Capital Angels is a member of the National Angel Capital Association, which provides access to education, best practices and networking with other angel investors.

The Capital Angels typically invest in businesses that have “some customer validation” and have gotten past the conceptual phase. They also focus on local entrepreneurs.

“We have a strong bias for South Carolina deals but invest in the best opportunities to generate returns to investors from across the Southeast,” Banks said.

More information on the Capital Angels and the South Carolina Angel Network can be found here.


Categories: Business