MN Angel Network Hopes to Net $700K

The new initiative, which aims to connect emerging companies with angel investors, hopes to raise $700,000 to cover operating costs and "keep the administrative cost for companies and investors low."

The Minnesota Angel Network (MNAN)-a recently announced initiative led by the BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota-hopes to raise nearly three quarters of a million dollars.

The MNAN will provide a statewide Web-based portal designed to connect angel investors and entrepreneurs. It is supported by a consortium of investor networks, foundations, business leaders, and universities, and it's hosted by the BioBusiness Alliance.

Todd Leonard, executive director of MNAN, could not be reached on Monday, but BioBusiness Alliance spokeswoman Melissa Kjolsing confirmed that the group is attempting to raise $700,000.

“If all funds are raised, this will keep the administrative cost for companies and investors low,” she wrote in an e-mail. Kjolsing was unsure how much money has been raised thus far, but a report by the Star Tribune, which cites a speech by Leonard at a recent entrepreneur event, indicates that MNAN has raised roughly $220,000 toward its goal.

Kjolsing said that the funding comes from a variety of private businesses, universities, and foundations-and the company is pursuing grant funding opportunities. She said that the funds will be used to pay staff members, cover software licensing fees, and pay for “other administrative costs.”

The MNAN's Web site is now live, although a second phase-which will include the interactive Web portal-is expected to launch this summer.

The portal is designed to help emerging companies take advantage of Minnesota angel investor tax credits. The credit, signed into law last April, gives a 25 percent tax break to individuals and investment funds that provide as much as $4 million in seed money to businesses focused on high technology or new proprietary technology.

A total of $11 million in tax credits was available in 2010, and the state will fund $12 million in credits annually between 2011 and 2014. Credits cannot exceed $125,000 per person per year.

According to data released earlier this year, 66 companies in the state collectively received $28 million in investments that qualified for the angel tax credit program in 2010, for which investors received $7 million of tax credits.

Leonard told Twin Cities Business in January that the MNAN site will allow companies to answer a series of questions, which will help create a summary of their business plan, in turn making it simple for investors to locate companies in which they are interested.

“We're not the group that will deliver a business plan,” Leonard said at the time. “We're helping them prepare for the rigors” of interacting with sophisticated networks of investors.

He also said that questionnaires completed by the companies will help identify gaps in their business plans or needs that can be met by service providers such as marketers. This helps ensure that companies are ready to connect with potential funding sources, and “allows investors to mitigate some of their risk,” Leonard added.

The secure site will also allow investors to view company profiles anonymously prior to determining if they want to connect.