The Minnesota Angel Network Shuts Down

The program's organizers said many similar organizations have surfaced since its inception, and one of them, Gopher Angels, will take over some of the work previously performed by the Minnesota Angel Network.

The Minnesota Angel Network will begin “phasing out immediately,” the program's parent organization told stakeholders on Wednesday.

The nonprofit BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota (BBAM), which has overseen the angel investor network, outlined its plan in a Wednesday letter sent to approximately 1,000 investors and stakeholders who have been involved in the program.

The Minnesota Angel Network was launched by BBAM in 2011 with the goal of “improving access to early-stage investing for our life science and high technology-based companies.” The BBAM is a subsidiary of St. Louis Park-based LifeScience Alley.

The two-page letter sent Wednesday noted that, since the Minnesota Angel Network's inception, numerous other organizations “have emerged as capable and active participants in developing and growing the angel investment capability of our region”—including AngelPolleNation, Mojo, The Network Connect, and Gopher Angels.

“We’re at a point today where we feel enough has been done in that area,” LifeScience Alley spokesman Ryan Baird told Twin Cities Business. Baird said his trade group will continue to help facilitate networking and connections for medical industry entrepreneurs.

LifeScience Alley and BBAM have tapped Golden Valley-based Gopher Angels, a network of accredited investors, to take over the training, investor communications work, and due diligence previously handled by the Minnesota Angel Network.

“It’s a great opportunity for Gopher Angels,” said David Russick, cofounder and managing director of Gopher Angels. “What we think we can do is provide an opportunity for them to join an active network for angel investors that have a structured program to look at deal flow and to invest.”

So far, members of Gopher Angels have invested $3.5 million in 12 Minnesota companies over the last two years.

“I think Minnesota’s a great place for entrepreneurial activity,” Russick said.

Todd Leonard, who had been executive director of the Minnesota Angel Network, is no longer part of the LifeScience Alley/BBAM staff. Baird said that Leonard was among four staffers that the group laid off at the end of March in a restructuring move that was unrelated to the decision to wind down the Minnesota Angel Network.

Baird says that LifeScience Alley and BBAM together employ 16, counting former president and CEO Dale Wahlstrom, who will remain a senior advisor to the organization through mid-August. Wahlstrom announced his retirement in March. Shaye Mandle took over as president and CEO on Thursday.