KALAMAZOO – In its first 14 months of existence, Ka-Zoo Angels has invested $435, 000 in eight companies our of 19 startups vetted, a new report shows. Launched in 2017 by Grand Angels, one of the state’s most active angel investor groups, its affiliate has 14 members.

Tim Parker, Grand Angels president, said the organization took an increased interest in Southwest Michigan because of several investments in Kalamazoo startups, including Armune Bioscience, Micro-LAM, LLC, and Vestaron Corp. Micro-LAM started at Western Michigan University and was a technology transfer spinout.

“Ka-Zoo Angels has injected additional capital into the Michigan economy and will continue to play a role in funding startups,” said Parker. “Members enjoy getting to know the company’s leadership at our monthly meetings and being able to ask questions,” Parker added. “They can make an investment and, equally important, act as mentors to startups.”

Eli Thomssen is the Associate Director of the Apjohn Group, a group of experienced business and pharmaceutical executives who help launch new life science companies. A founding member of the Ka-Zoo Angels, Thomssen stated the importance of angel group funding to start-ups.

“Companies that I have helped start would not have gotten off the ground if not for angel funding,” he said. “It is great to be a part of a new Kalamazoo-based angel group that can help fund new start-ups in Southwest Michigan.”

A factor contributing to the success of Ka-Zoo Angels is “strong community support, including a collaboration with Southwest Michigan First,” explained Mary Sue Hoffman, a Kalamazoo-based attorney who helps manage the group. Southwest Michigan First hosts Ka-Zoo Angels monthly meetings and is a sponsor.

“We are excited to collaborate with Ka-Zoo Angels to build upon past successes of angel investing that began in the early 2000s in the Kalamazoo area. The group’s momentum, infused with support from the Grand Angels, looks to positively continue to make a great impact in our startup community in the coming year by growing business and creating jobs,” said Ron Kitchens, senior partner and chief executive officer of Southwest Michigan First.

“Angel investors not only serve as a source of funding for high growth companies, but also do so much more by serving as mentors, coaches and advisers for entrepreneurs and assisting companies in which they invest to secure later stage capital.”

Membership in Ka-Zoo Angels is open to individuals who are accredited investors under SEC rules and have an interest in early stage investing. For membership information, please contact Janet Wyllie, Director of Engagement for Grand Angels, at Wylliej@grandangels.org