RESEARCH TRIANGLE – Alumshares, a Triangle-based investment platform for alumni of elite research institutions, has added Duke University to its opportunities.
Alumshares is currently focused on working with universities and spinout companies in its home market, the Research Triangle. The company recently worked with North Carolina State University’s alumni investor network, Wolfpack Investor Network (WIN), to raise capital for a Triangle-based AI company through the Alumshares platform.
Co-founder, CEO and NC State grad Michael McCord tells WRAL TechWire that Alumshares hopes to expand the ability for alumni of elite research universities to invest in promising startups.
The Raleigh native said Alumshares wants to increase the number of alumni who can invest in startups from their alma maters. “People identify who they are with where they went to school,” McCord said.
“They have ties to their schools athletics or their degree. There are tons of pride around it, but the research space is largely invisible to them.”
While Alumshares works with a university’s own investment vehicles, such as NC State’s Wolfpack Investor Network (WIN), McCord noted that they are frequently locally-focused groups of a few hundred individuals with significant capital and experience in investing. Yet, there are hundreds of thousands of alumni who might be interested in investing in spinout companies from their schools, McCord said.
“We want to bring that third leg to build companies around academic affiliation,” he said.
Currently, its offerings from about 20 schools nationally are only open to accredited investors but it is working on exemptions that would allow uncredited investors to participate.
The university and other angel investor networks are “amazing,” McCord said, but they’re often composed of lawyers, real estate executives, and engineers who may miss opportunities in fields such as biotech and life science. “They don’t get as much of a look at those at they should.”
That means they may miss opportunities to grab a piece of emerging companies heading for significant success.
A ‘force multiplier’
“We want to work with existing infrastructure and be a force multiplier of what they’re doing. The regulatory environment can make things challenging. They have to focus on the school and company and investor. We can focus on the investor.”
“Alumshares makes investing for our members so simple,” says Joe Sinsheimer, managing director of WIN in a statement. “Instead of worrying about coordinating complicated closings, I’m able to focus on expanding our network of alumni and getting great companies in front of them. With Alumshares, I’m able to ensure our university ecosystem receives the support it deserves.”
Biotech is a particular interest to Alumshares. Research universities with medical schools, such as Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill, “Put a lot out,” McCord said. But startup capital is often scarce.
The Research Triangle is among only a handful of biotech centers nationally, such as San Francisco, San Diego, and Boston. Its unique focus on the combination of biotech and software “Puts us in a different plane,” he said.
For a limited time, Alumshares will provide new Duke alumni members with a free upgrade to an Unlocked member account. This enables free investment access to university spinouts from several of the top research universities in the country.