Angel Capital Association – Three Recent Exits Were All Luis Villalobos Award Winners

The Angel Capital Association (ACA), the world’s leading professional association for angel investors, recently announced that three recent winners of the association’s Luis Villalobos Award, have achieved milestone exits, all within one month.

Since 2010, ACA’s active 13,000+ member angel investors have nominated the most innovative of the thousands of startups they fund for this award. Competition is stiff and only one company is selected annually to win the award, named in memory of Luis Villalobos, whom angel investors nationwide admired for actively investing in and mentoring ingenious, creative and innovative startups.

Luis Villalobos was a pioneer of angel investing. He died October 01, 2009 in Orange County, California. He was 72. In May 2010 the first, national Luis Villalobos Award, named after deceased Tech Coast Angels founder Luis Villalobos, was presented by the Angel Capital Association, to a startup based in Seattle. According to the ACA, it awarded Modumetal, a developer of nano-laminated materials used as a replacement for stainless steel, the Luis Villalobos Award as the “Most Innovative Idea” financed by one of its member angel investment groups. The award was established to honor Villalobos, who was among the most active angel investors in Southern California, and spearheaded the creation for the Tech Coast Angels.

Luis Villalobos founded the Tech Coast Angels, one of the largest and most respected angel organizations in the world, in 1997. Companies funded by Tech Coast Angels have raised more than $1 billion to date. He was a true “leading light” in the angel field, making 57 personal investments, educating numerous angels, and particularly in educating and mentoring entrepreneurs before he passed away. He was a sought-after expert and speaker about sophisticated angel investment. Luis appreciated ingenuity and entrepreneurial thinking in every aspect of life, and always looked to invest in and mentor the most innovative companies.

These exits are a testament to the deep professional angel investing expertise of ACA members, and the quality of startups they invest in and nurture across the country.

ACA Executive Director Marianne Hudson stated, “Angel investing is risky, so it is extremely exciting to have three investment choices validated with both distinguished awards and significant exit returns for entrepreneurs and investors.” Hudson added, “These exits reinforce the scrutiny ACA members use to select investments, and the Midwest roots of the three startups underpin the strength of angel investing across the heartland of our country.”

– Ohio-based Assurex Health, the world leader in genetic testing to guide behavioral health medication decisions, took home the 2012 Luis Villalobos Award and was acquired by Myriad Genetics (NASDAQ: MYGN) on August 3. The agreement which could be worth up to $410 million, included $225 million up front with the potential for $185 million in additional performance-based milestones. Multiple ACA member groups participated in the rounds and nurtured the company’s growth over ten years, including Queen City Angels, Ohio Tech Angels, and North Coast Angel Fund. Tony Shipley, Chairman of Queen City Angels, who led the investment said, “Helping to bring in the right partners with the right structure, was critical to our successful journey with Assurex, which began with just two employees and expanded to more than 500 as they achieved countless milestones.”

– 2014 Luis Villalobos Award winner EyeVerify Inc., from Kansas City, MO, was acquired on September 12 for more than $100 million, by Ant Financial Services Group, an affiliate of China-based Alibaba. Mid America Angels, Nebraska Angels, and Women’s Capital Connection, among others, were all early investors in EyeVerify, creator of Eyeprint ID, a patented, secure mobile eye verification technology. Rick Vaughn, Managing Director of Mid America Angels elaborated on their exit, “Beyond being a fantastic exit, because Ant Financial was already an EyeVerify customer, this was a win-win strategic investment for both organizations and we look forward to seeing this technology gain a bigger foothold and scaling across worldwide markets.”

– ACA member group BlueWater Angels led the first of multiple angel investments in Ann Arbor, MI based RetroSense Therapeutics LLC, in 2009. The private, clinical-stage biotechnology company is focused on novel gene therapy approaches to restore vision in patients suffering from blindness. The 2015 Luis Villalobos Award winner was acquired by Allergan (NYSE: AGN) on September 6, for $60 million plus additional potential bonus payments when future regulatory and commercialization milestones are reached. These could increase the payout to investors eight-fold. BlueWater Angel president and lead angel investor Ken Kousky stated, “As angel investors we provided the morale support and introductions RetroSense needed early on, and we’re thrilled to have Allergan as a strategic partner to help realize the full potential of this game-changing technology.”

About the Angel Capital Association (ACA)
As the voice of the angel investors, ACA offers professional development, public policy advocacy and significant benefits and resources to its membership of more than 13,000 accredited investors, who invest individually or through its 250 angel groups, accredited platforms and family office members. Since its founding in 2005, ACA has built the world’s largest collective of angels across North America, and aligns like-minded angels to build their early-stage investment skills and share innovative ideas and practices.


SOURCE: Angel Capital Association