By LAURA LOREK
Founder of Silicon HIlls News
Bootstrapping is the new normal for many high tech startups in the Austin and San Antonio area.
But a startup gets to a point where the entrepreneur needs some cash to advance their idea, buy goods and services, hire specialists, acquire customers and expand their operations.
That early money, known as a seed stage investment, can make the difference between expanding and going out of business.
That’s where angel investors can help. Angels are high net worth individuals who invest in startup companies. Some of them do it to get a five to ten times return on their investment. Others want to be involved in the startup. And some just want to invest to help others.
In Austin, the Central Texas Angel Network gives entrepreneurs a chance to pitch for dollars through a formal month long process during five funding cycles a year.
Now San Antonio has its own Angel network called SAPitch.com, which seeks to bring early-stage companies together with angel investors.
Michael Girdley, founder of Codeup and an angel investor, and Cole Wollak, entrepreneur and co-founder of SANewTech, started SAPitch.com.
“I’ve been to a lot of pitch events and I’ve been unhappy with certain aspects of them,” Girdley said. “Sometimes the caliber of the teams pitching is lacking. And other times there are people there who just want to sell insurance to people with money.”
Many times the events lacked a chance to have a conversation with the companies and to sit down with them and get to know them and share a meal, Girdley said.
In San Antonio, Girdley saw a core group of startups developing out of Geekdom and the University of Texas at San Antonio. And he knew investors who wanted to invest in startups, but didn’t know how to get involved with them so Girdley and Wollak created SAPitch.com. They will host its first event on Jan. 23rd. The 90-minute luncheon will feature a handful of startups pitching to angel investors.
“We’ve got Companies trying to raise big money and companies looking for very small money,” Girdley said.
The teams pitching at the first event include Guava, Akimbo, Embrace, Instore, Merge and Remote Garage, Girdley said. There’s still spots available for a few more companies and investors, he said. To attend, companies and others need to sign up at the website. It just costs $30 for the lunch, he said.
“We would love to talk to anyone who would want to pitch or be an investor to attend,” he said. “We curate both sides to make sure we have a good caliber of investors.”
SAPitch seeks to connect investors and startups in San Antonio, Girdley said.
“We want to accelerate the high tech growth here,” he said.