Acadiana Business

Heavenly help

by Christiaan Mader


INNOV8 Acadiana is looking to introduce you and your next big business idea to the choir of capitalists known as Angel Investors. Through meet-ups scattered around Acadiana in anticipation of November’s Delta Regional Authority Pitch Event, INNOV8 Chairman Pete Prados hopes to connect local pitch-ready innovators with the personal and financial resources businesses require to get wings and scale up their pet projects.

On Wednesday, July 15, INNOV8’s Lafayette meet-up will focus on Angel investing criteria with presentations by Lafayette General Foundation Director Cian Robinson and Dr. Keith Credo of Angel Investors of Southwest Louisiana. Both men represent investment funds with capital available to jump start concepts into operating businesses, and will give insight into what investors look for before opening their wallets. While Prados says the meet-ups are most effective for entrepreneurs with clearly scalable and pitch ready concepts, the events serve as a valuable education for both rookie innovators and seasoned business creators alike. The name of the game is connecting the right people with the right kind of angels.

“We’re a super connector,” Prado says of INNOV8’s role in economic development. “We’ll point you in the direction of people who can help you build business models and other resources. Even the people who say ‘I have an idea, and I’m not sure if it’s any good or not.’”

Navigating a new business concept from the garage to the globe takes a lot of gumption and a lot of cash. Patent acquisitions, investing in logistic infrastructure, packaging, branding, marketing, manufacturing and distribution bob the risky seas of economic adventure with obstacles aplenty to green innovators. This can be especially daunting in markets not visibly equipped with idea incubators and ravenous venture capitalists who populate places like California’s Silicon Valley. INNOV8’s meet-ups form the entry-level tier for understanding how to grow your concept, and what investors will expect. Those ready to pitch, however, will have the kind of immediate, shoulder-to-shoulder access with motivated money people who separate business dreams from business realities.

“We believe in serendipitous collisions,” says Prados. “When we put people with the right ideas together with people with access to capital, we believe great things will happen.”

The term Angel Investor denotes a tier of investors below the venture capitalist-type investor known for financially amplifying the software and tech businesses that made Silicon Valley a famous hotbed for billion dollar tech and web startups like Facebook and Google. Angels typically operate collective grant or investment funds that represent $50,000 to $1 million in accessible capital, credited and vetted by the SEC. Because a quick return of investment is the desired result, Angel Investor groups like Cian’s Lafayette General Foundation or Credo’s ASL look for concepts with ready-to-scale models already in place. It’s easy to assume that excludes all but tech and software products, but investment interests cut a broad swath of business sectors including the service, petroleum and entertainment industries. So while this may not be the best place to get advice and investment on a new plate lunchery, it’s not out of the question that a novel restaurant idea or toy concept could land a big fish investor and a check. All that matters is that the concept presents a clear path to scalability.

INNOV8’s July 15 meet-up at LITE is free and open to the public. You can register for the event via eticket at eventbrite. For more information about INNOV8’s meet-ups, upcoming pitch events and the Nov. 13 Technology and Entrepreneur Summit, hit up its website here.