IVCA Feature: New Member Profile of Hyde Park Angels

January 20, 2016

The expansion of the Illinois Venture Capital Association continues in the new year, benefitting both the new member and the current IVCA membership, in experiencing the stories and connection. The newest member is the Hyde Park Angels, one of the Midwest’s largest angel organizations, which provides for their entrepreneurial-minded members to invest in early stage businesses in the region.

The IVCA recently profiled Hyde Park Angels, to provide background to the organization, their business perspective and their entrepreneurial spirit.

New Member: Hyde Park Angels

Representative: Alida Miranda-Wolff, Associate Manager

IVCA: What is a brief history and background of the Hyde Park Angels?

Hyde Park Angels: In 2006 when Hyde Park Angels was first founded, there was not easy access to early-stage capital for startups in the Midwest. The University of Chicago’s Polsky Center, along with a core group of members from the Executive Program in the Booth School of Business, wanted to drive economic and community growth by taking a people-first approach to supporting startups. Ultimately, they built an organization of angel investors that could invest both financial and human capital in startups, fostering a technology-driven entrepreneurial hub in Chicago. And although we’re partners with the University of Chicago, we’re independent – we’re not a university institution or organization.

Since 2006, Hyde Park Angels has grown to upwards of 100 members and invested in over 40 portfolio companies that have gone onto raise millions and create hundreds of jobs. Hyde Park Angels has been able to attract some of the best startups in the Midwest and drive their growth through our human capital – specifically, the deep and broad knowledge of our members across multiple industries – as well as the deployment of our financial capital.

IVCA: Why did the firm decide to join the Illinois Venture Capital Association?

Hyde Park Angels: The Illinois Venture Capital Association is the nexus of investment in Illinois, bringing together venture capital, private equity, and strategic investing. As an early-stage investor focused on taking a people-first approach to investing, we wanted to be at the center of where investors come together to build connections, make decisions, and share knowledge.

IVCA: What are some common characteristics for early-stage or early-growth companies that commonly equate to successful exits, and how does the firm usually recognize them?

Hyde Park Angels: We qualify every deal that comes through out pipeline – whether through outbound sourcing, member and partner referrals, or inbound outreach – by considering it in terms of our investment considerations. We take a people-first approach to investing, so we begin by assessing whether we have members with the industry expertise, interest, and unique understanding of the business to serve as liaisons to the membership, and contribute meaningfully as trusted advisors to the company.

We look at several common indicators of success, including recurring product usage and revenue. However, the biggest determinant for us is whether our members can accurately assess the company’s position in a big market, and use their own expertise and connections to help it gain more market share.

IVCA: Your partners, the University of Chicago, is a recognized leader in entrepreneurial innovation. What is the local strategy for keeping the graduate talent invested in Midwest growth or possibilities?

Hyde Park Angels: We are proud of our partnership with the University of Chicago, particularly our relationships with the Polsky Center and Chicago Innovation exchange. As an independent organization that values that talent the university grows and empowers, we believe in keeping graduate talent invested in the Midwest entrepreneurial ecosystem is by creating and strengthening opportunities for entrepreneurship and innovation here.

This is one of the primary reasons Hyde Park Angels only invests in the Midwest, and why we leverage our members as mentors and trusted advisors in addition to investors capable of funding new Midwestern companies. Our strategy for fostering talent is a reflection of our larger strategy – taking a people-first approach to early-stage investing to create more connections and opportunities across the Midwest.

IVCA: You offer an education series as part of your investment package. How has this series helped the firm to learn what is developing at the early stages of entrepreneurship, from the companies that participate?

Hyde Park Angels: To give you a little more context before getting into our key lessons learned, we host a number of education programs, some open to the public, and others specifically for our members and partners.

With our community partner, ‘1871,’ we bring together successful and influential entrepreneurs, investors, and partners to teach new entrepreneurs everything they need to know about early-stage investment for our Entrepreneurial Education Series. Entrepreneurs attend all four programs and walk away with a thorough understanding of the early-stage investment cycle from start to finish. 

Our partnership with 1871 has strengthened our entrenchment in the community and helped us better understand the entrepreneurs who need and use our resources. 1871 is a major driver of innovation and activity in Chicago that fosters key connections. We also work with all the major entrepreneurial hubs across the Midwest to share live streaming of the programs, as well as all the content we build around them, so we can reach each entrepreneur playing in the early-stage space.

The companies that attend these programs tend to be early-stage, but we’re seeing an increasing number of Midwest startups that are specifically looking for Midwestern investors because they don’t want to leave for the coasts.

IVCA: What does the Hyde Park Angels hope to achieve in their interaction with the IVCA? 

Hyde Park Angels: We are looking forward to learning from the other IVCA members, in addition to sharing our unique understanding of the early-stage investment ecosystem. We are interested in building relationships within the group that will create mutually beneficial opportunities for our companies to find upstream investors and IVCA members to work with fully vetted and supported companies.

For more information regarding Hyde Park Angels, click on www.hydeparkangels.com/