High-tech companies seeking growth capital and investors seeking new opportunities will have a new opportunity through which to meet — a series of angel forums.

The new events are the result of a partnership between The Corporate Investment Center Inc. and Local Tech Wire.

The first event is set for Nov. 16 in Raleigh. Others will follow across North Carolina.

Thomas Vass, founder of The Corporate Investment Center and a registered investment advisor, said the events would help fill the capital market gap he says exists in North Carolina.

“Small, high-tech companies that need between $1 million and $10 million in second stage growth capital have no organized sources of capital in North Carolina,” said Vass. “While start-up companies can still turn to local VCs and the angel partnerships for early stage capital, nothing has been done in our state to address the critical needs of operationally stable companies that need capital to grow to the next level of success.”

Vass turned to Local TechWire to help solve the problem.

“Local TechWire has been a media champion of the high tech community in the Southeast, and I knew that Rick Smith was sympathetic to the needs of his readers, most of whom are private company executives,” said Vass, referring to Smith who is a founder and managing editor of LTW.

Exposure for participants

Companies that are seeking capital at the regional angel forums will be highlighted in a special page on LTW for 30 days prior to the event.

“We think the added exposure from our web site will help drive potential investors to the company’s own site,” said Smith, “allowing the companies to begin discussions with new sources of capital from multiple sources of private accredited investors,”

The regional angel forums are designed to tap sources of capital that usually exist within 50 miles of a metro region.

“Part of our business plan is to help organize a new type of capital market infrastructure in the smaller metro regions of the state,” said Vass, “and part of our idea is to spread economic growth from tech rich places like Northern Virginia and Atlanta, to these smaller towns and cities.”

Vass said he believes that the combination of private capital investments, coupled with traditional industrial recruitment incentives aimed at attracting the small high-tech companies to locate in the region, will be a powerful new tool for regional economic development.

“We think that bringing new high-tech companies into a region will stimulate more economic growth from local entrepreneurs who will benefit from the arrival of the newly recruited company,” said Vass. “We believe that the future economic prosperity of North Carolina lies in nurturing the strength of hundreds and hundreds of small companies created and owned by native North Carolinians, and located in their own home communities.”

The regional angel forums are being planned for Rocky Mount, Wilmington, Pinehurst, Lexington, and Burlington.

Forum format:

The format for each monthly forum will be an hour of social networking, followed by a welcome and introduction by a local sponsor, such as a law firm or CPA firm. Then, each company would make a 20-minute presentation, followed by more social networking. Companies will be charged a fee to make a presentation.

“We want to encourage maximum openness and diversity both in the companies who present and in the investors who attend,” said Vass, who has been involved in conducting angel forums in the past. According to Vass, the open forum format creates an environment where companies have a maximum chance to meet their funding goals.

“We do not want a self-selected set of insiders to ‘cherry-pick’ the companies, nor do we want just a small closed group of investors to benefit from the forums,” said Vass.

The competitor model of angel forums relies on the closed-business model of invitation-only events for carefully selected investor beneficiaries. Most of the competitor forums are affiliated with government agencies and receive government funds to offset expenses, and do not charge companies to present.

“The advantage of our open model for companies and investors,” said Vass, “is our use of local professional advisors, including investment advisors, who can help companies obtain capital from multiple sources. The other models are more focused on obtaining benefits for professional service providers or angel partnerships, while we focus more on creating an environment that meets the needs of the company that needs capital to grow.”

The first forum is scheduled for The Raleigh Capital City Club on November 16, 2004. Interested companies and angels can learn more about this event and future events at:




Pre-registtration is available at www.corporateinvestment.net