Kentucky creates Angel Investors Network to funnel money to entrepreneurs who need it

Angel-InvestorsWe’d heard hints about a new online investor/entrepreneur connector at various start-up and entrepreneur events.

But we didn’t see this coming in late on a Friday afternoon.

Whatever ….

A day after a Danville-born, Frankfort-based entrepreneur LaShanna Harris walked away with the Vogt Awards $100,000 investment, the Beshear Administration is trying to connect all the state’s centers of start-up mojo.

(And yes, IL is just parochial enough to have assumed a Louisville-based company would have won the Vogt Invention and Innovation $100,000 Demo Day Award yesterday.)

Gov. Steve Beshear just announced the creation of the Kentucky Angel Investors Network, or Kentucky Angels, “a virtual network that links companies pursuing funding with would-be investors from across the state,” according to a news release.

At first blush, this appears to be a narrow-cast version of an Internet crowdfunding site with scheduled programming such as virtual networking events tacked on for good measure.

Which is needed.

From the release:

Kentucky Angels will bring startups and early-stage companies and accredited investors together via monthly online meetings, providing investors access to early-stage deal flow on a statewide basis, Membership is open to investors within the state and other investors passionate about investing in the Commonwealth.

The first online meeting is tentatively planned for Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014.

We’re going to spare you the canned quotes from the news release, but trust us … Gov. Beshear and everyone in his entire administration, including Larry Hayes, Cabinet for Economic Development secretary, are as excited as all get out about this.

OK … one canned quote from former Brown-Forman CFO Phoebe Wood, who is a serious player in the start-up space.

Hit it, Pheebs:

“Nationwide, more than 70 percent of early-stage capital received by entrepreneurs comes from investors in the same state,” said Phoebe Wood, a business executive and an active angel investor. “We need to build a robust, statewide ecosystem by supporting our entrepreneurs with strong business plans and teams, and by syndicating deals among our communities.”

Beshear went live with the initiative at the inaugural Kentucky Investment Summit, held last week in Frankfort.

For those of us in the trenches, there is one odd detail: The usually start-up/entrepreneur-friendly University of Louisville is not involved.

Rather, Kentucky Angels is led by the Cabinet for Economic Development’s Office of Entrepreneurship, the Lexington office of the Kentucky Innovation Network, and the Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Kentucky’s Gatton College of Business and Economics.

That may be by design since UK has the best network to the provinces.

In the release, Dean Harvey, executive director of the Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship, stated monthly online presentations will feature entrepreneurs who already have a lead investor and negotiated term sheet.

“This approach will help simplify due diligence for other investors and foster communication among investors and entrepreneurs on a statewide basis,” Harvey said.

Earlier this year, Beshear announced creation of the Office of Entrepreneurship within the Cabinet for Economic Development with a goal of streamlining the state’s focus and efforts to create and promote an entrepreneur culture.

Information on Kentucky’s economic development efforts and programs is available here.