The Blue Ridge Angel Investors Network (BRAIN) officially has narrowed down its list of companies to present at its next meeting to three.
Unofficially, the group will hear from six firms seeking funding.
The three companies presenting at the March 16 BRAIN meeting at Homewood in the Montford neighborhood of Asheville are TypeFi, Smartband and Aurora Lighting. All have connections to western North Carolina and the potential to bring jobs to the area.
“We have chosen three companies from the 13 that were submitted for consideration,” says Jim Roberts, executive director of BRAIN and the related Blue Ridge Entrepreneurial Council (BREC). “Again we are very excited about the potential of the companies that were selected as they have great potential for the investors and could create over 750 jobs in the near future.”
TypeFi, which has a development deal with Adobe, has created a new typesetting software technology for the publishing industry. It has offices in Massachusetts, Silicon Valley and Australia, where it was founded. The chief executive officer is Asheville native Steve Huff, the son of well-known pediatrician Olson Huff.
The second company, Smartband, is developing a new antenna technology with wireless broadband applications. The CEO was at the very first BREC meeting in November of 2002, making Smartband the first example of new company formation for the group.
Aurora Lighting is the final of the three companies presenting at the official BRAIN meeting. It has formed a new ballast technology for the lighting industry.
Preceding these three companies will be a keynote speaker, former YOUcentric CEO Tom Fedell, at 5:30 PM. Charlotte-based YOUcentric was acquired by J.D. Edwards for $86 million in 2001 and Fedell now has an early stage investment fund and consulting firm.
At 4 PM, for invited BRAIN guests only, three more companies will present to private qualified investors. They are later stage companies that require a larger investment than the other group, but are still seeking funding.
Two of the early presenters are Asheville-based online building permit company BuilderAdius and environmental consulting firm Navigational Sciences of Charleston, SC. A third firm will remain confidential.
BRAIN, which has begun to raise a $5 million angel investment fund in 2004, hopes to involve wealthy retirees in the area, Roberts recently told Local Tech Wire.
“We have many high net worth individuals who are retiring to Asheville,” he says, “we just need to educate them on why they should become angel investors such as return on investment and creating jobs to keep their children and grandchildren in the region.”
BREC in the ‘National Dialogue’
The Blue Ridge Entrepreneurial Council (BREC) was recognized by the National Dialogue on Entrepreneurship out of Washington, DC, in a recent edition praising the Asheville region.
The electronic newsletter, sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation of Kansas City for followers of the entrepreneurial economy, offers short summaries and analyses of various trends driving the innovation economy.
“Western North Carolina is fast becoming a cool place for young people,” the newsletter stated. “With its beautiful mountain scenery, outdoor amenities, and relative proximity to major metro areas, Asheville is attracting young people seeking the best of both rural and urban life.”
It went on to say that the region is hoping to capture this energy for entrepreneurial development as well, with BREC “leading the charge.” The entrepreneurial network has been in place for one year and serves as a “24-7 business platform” for western N.C. entrepreneurs, it said.
“In addition to providing mentoring and networking opportunities for entrepreneurs, BREC is heavily focused on improving equity capital access in the region,” concludes the National Dialogue for Entrepreneurship. “It — has also helped local firms attract venture capital from outside investors.”
The national newsletter also noted that BREC recently hosted the world premiere of a documentary film based on Richard Florida’s book, The Rise of the Creative Class, in Asheville.
Qualcomm CTO to speak
At the April meeting of BREC, the group will feature Tom Fisher, chief technology officer of Qualcomm, as the keynote speaker.
Fisher, a graduate of UNC-Charlotte, was CTO of eBay and Gateway Computer before taking over the role at Qualcomm, the San Diego-based developer of digital and wireless technologies.
In addition to his BREC engagement, Fisher will be giving several other speeches in the Asheville area during his visit from April 8-9.