Editor’s note: RTP Beat is a regular feature on Thursdays.Only one North Carolina firm joins companies from Los Angeles, San Diego, and Florida pitching to private investors at the Gathering of Angels meeting in Pinehurst on May 19.

“A number of Research Triangle companies say they’re thinking about presenting,” says Tom Vass, the Raleigh-based investment advisor who organizes the NC Gathering.

Gathering of Angels, created by Tarby Bryant, chairman of the Anasazi Capital Corp., brings together private “angel” investors and presenting companies looking for early stage or seed capital. Four or five companies pay $2,000 each to give a 20-minute PowerPoint presentation followed by a few minutes of questions. Investors attend free.

“We’ve got a full dance ticket of presenting companies,” says Vass, noting that NC companies have been “slow to respond.” Presenters include Cord Partners, a Los Angeles biotech start-up; Cyporex, a Florida biotech startup; Advanced American Products, San Diego; and the only NC presenter, Taper International of Southern Pines.

“It will run monthly,” Vass says, “and we hope to attract more NC companies.” The next meeting is scheduled for June 16, followed by a third July 14.

Vass says people in Florida and California have seen the Gathering work in the past and have heard of Pinehurst because of its world famous golf courses. In 2003, Gathering of Angels meetings helped 14 companies get funding.

Vass suggests that local economic development agencies should see the Gatherings as an opportunity to “promote the area as a good home base for these companies if they raise capital there. It’s a good business recruitment opportunity.

Vass also says that while two large angel groups in Raleigh “spent all their money and there’s no money left in town, that’s not the case in Hilton Head, Atlanta, and Dallas.

Capital markets seminar

Vass will also teach an eight-hour seminar May 15 at the Campbell University RTP Center on “Understanding the Private Capital Markets and How Deals Get Done: A Lesson for Lawyers, Accountants, Investment Advisors an CEOs.”

“I think there are some gaps in our business/financial infrastructure,” said Vass, “in the area of providing information and guidance to unemployed professionals on the types of new ventures that may work well, given the structure of our local economy.”

Vass says that he suspects increasing the supply of professional advisors who understand private capital markets will stimulate more activity and increase the supply of capital coming into the region. “We have a couple of big law firms and CPAs that understand it, but the idea is to spread it to a broader community.”

Vass has long been a gadfly urging state and regional leaders to stop throwing tax incentives and state money at recruiting manufacturing operations here and instead find ways to stimulate much-needed private capital markets.

Vass has held a number of professional education seminars, similar to the one on the 15th, and gives many talks to civic clubs about the topic. He says he also “informally advises some elected representatives on how public policy can support private capital markets.”

As an investment advisor, Vass helped numerous companies write their business plans aimed at raising capital. He also helped bring larger out-of-state investment bankers to the region for sessions with local high tech companies.

Deck Party Returns

During the Internet boom years and for a while afterward, the liveliest Research Triangle Networking events were deck parties held at the former Fusion Ventures building overlooking Brightleaf Square.

Randy Gregg of Triangle Tech Journal and RTPTV.com tells Local Tech Wire the next the next party at iLoft (5310 South Alston Avenue, off of Alexander Drive, Durham) will rival those of the boom years. “Networking is still the primary purpose of course,” says Gregg, “but we want people to have fun.”

“We’re going to have helicopters, robots and Ferraris in the parking lot,” Gregg says. “We’ll have a video game area, volleyball nets, a DJ for music, beer–and of course, networking.”

Gregg says about 800 people are expected to attend but there’s plenty of room for them in the 20,000 square foot iLoft, which was inspired by Fusion’s own loft.

Sponsors include ZenBio, Maverick Marketing, WebBasix, Celito, the Dilweg Companies, Exhibit Resources, Wind Channel, Hardin-Bowles, Innovative Systems and the Triangle Tech Journal. The event is free, but RSVPs are required.

Moving Brooks

R. Brooks Malone, a partner with Hughes Pittman & Gupton CPAs, and much experienced serving startups, has moved. His new office address is 1500 Sunday Drive Suite 300, Raleigh.

Understanding Capital Seminar: www.imanctriangle.org/2003_cpe_reg.htm

Vass’ Corporate Investment Center: www.corporateinvestmentcenter.com

Deck Party RSVP: www.deckparty.homestead.com

Hughes, Pittman & Gupton” www.hpgcpas.com