If you have an idea for a new business, already started the process, or even made some sales, there are investors in North Texas like those on the hit ABC-TV show Shark Tank ready to hear your story.
At least three groups in the Dallas-Fort Worth area conduct sessions similar to billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and his fellow sharks do in California. And contrary to what you see on Shark Tank, you don’t need a ton of money to start a business. Just in the Metroplex alone are examples of people who launched what turned out to be highly-successful companies with as little as $1,000.
One such investor group is The Boardroom, a North Texas Internet show where a panel of successful millionaire businesspeople help startup business entrepreneurs seeking knowledge. In addition to advice, panel members have been known to invest some of their own money to help people launch their entities.
The Boardroom was created in 2011 by self-made Flower Mound multi-millionaire business owner Charles Horton, owner of Fast Bucks and the Firewalking Institute of Research and Education. It invites entrepreneurs to present their businesses to a panel of advisors who listen, question, and sometimes invest. But the Boardroom has a different emphasis than Shark Tank.
“I started this because I was excited watching the ‘Shark Tank,’ but it was more for pure entertainment,” Horton told CBSDFW.com in a 2011 interview. “There wasn’t enough education in it.”
Sessions are held nearly monthly at Horton’s 12,000 square foot estate in Southeast Flower Mound now under the guidance of John Brown of the CEO Clubs of Texas.
The Boardroom live-streams the presentations on its Facebook page. Usually, the live videos get a total of about 500 views, but one last fall featuring an entrepreneur with Down Syndrome earned more than 3,700.
While The Boardroom helps educate and potentially fund entrepreneurs, it also provides the millionaires with investment opportunities they might not otherwise know about.
The same goes for the Dallas Angel Network, which focuses on startups and high growth entities needing early stage funding. It features investors not only from DFW but also Houston and Austin.
Dallas Angel Network meets quarterly at either the Dallas Entrepreneur Center or other large venues with three to five entrepreneurs presenting at each session. Each presenter has seven minutes to pitch their product or service followed by three minutes of questions and answers.
There are no fees to either present or join the Dallas Angel Network panel. The organization receives support from partners Ideal Growth Ventures and Vela | Wood Law.
On its website, the Dallas Angel Network states the following criteria for consideration:
- significant friends and family round has already happened;
- the Company is earning revenue or at least has shown customer acceptance;
- the Company is at a point where it needs rocket fuel, or in other words, additional major milestones can’t be completed without growth capital;
- the management team is already stout and needs little if any supplementation;
- there is a clear critical path to exit; and
- the Company needs a check of $25k to $500k.
Dallas Angel Network finds companies from tech and cloud-based to consumer products and the restaurant and bar industries. Specific investors are fond of tech-enabled services, consumer products, bars, restaurants, real estate, data management, retail, and applications.
A third investor group is the North Texas Angel Network, founded in 2008 by Chuck McCoy. Today, his network features more than 60 business leaders also seeking early stage companies.
Unlike The Boardroom and Dallas Angel Network, investors in the North Texas Angel Network do pay an annual fee to become members and must be invited by existing members. Potential presenters start the process by submitting an online application.
If selected they will be invited to a live screening meeting where they make a 5-7 minute pitch with a fraction asked to present at a full meeting where they have up to 30 minutes in front of the panel.
Like The Boardroom, panelists can choose to invest their own money after appropriate due diligence. All angel investment groups feature specialists who can help entrepreneurs with specific needs. Investors are accredited as defined by Securities and Exchange Commission regulations. In addition to helping the entrepreneurs, the groups also allow a limited number of others to come observe the pitching and investing process.
If any of these groups aren’t for you, of course, you could try connecting with the many individual investors who call DFW home. The most famous is Cuban, who was listed as the No. 1 angel investor in Dallas in a 2016 poll in Common Desk.
Those following Cuban on the list were Kevin Moore, Neal Rapoport, Raju Indukuri, Sam Paulos, Tahir Hussein, Hubert Zajicek, Nathan Hanks, Ryan Scripps, and Mike Courtney.
More information on The Boardroom is available at boardroomlessons.com. Further details on the Dallas Angel Network can be found at dallasangelnetwork.com. The North Texas Angel Network can be located at northtexasangels.org.