We breathe life into great teams with great ideas to create great companies.

I have the greatest job in the world.  I get to work directly with successful business people and exciting high tech startup companies.  I unite both to create incredible companies that will someday be household names and create wealth.  Sure, the hours are long, it is expensive, and financially risky.  But, at the end of the day, I know we are making a difference in the world.  Want to join us?

Angel Capital Group is an Alliance of angel groups and funds that stretches from Denver to Charleston and Minneapolis to South Florida.  The Alliance collaborates to find and fund the very best ventures in the Heartland.

Why do we do this?

We can’t help ourselves.  We love breathing life into startup companies. They are the bedrock of our economy and the source of innovation in the world today. Without entrepreneurs and investors willing to share risk collaboratively by creating great companies, our way of life would collapse. This is the true job creation engine of our economy and the best performing asset class in the market year after year after year.

People work where they want to live, not live where they want to work. They want to build entrepreneurial capacity and economic viability into the fabric of their community. And, angel investing is a key driver.

What do we do?

  • We help organize angel funds to drive local economic development and create wealth.
  • We aggregate exciting dealflow across the Heartland and over many industries for science and technology enabled startup companies.
  • We unite great minds and aggregate capital to validate and invest in innovative business models by outstanding entrepreneurs.
  • We optimize risk and returns by curating companies and proving the scalability of their revenue model.

How do we do it?

  • Our process is designed to move companies from the point we invest to the point they can grow organically or we can hand them off to friendly investors at the next level.
  • We meet monthly in cities across the Heartland to interview and evaluate startup companies.
  • We focus on deep due diligence to improve our odds of success. Confident, experienced entrepreneurs understand the value this brings to both the company and the investor.
  • We invest as a syndicate typically at the seed stage, bridge round, or early preferred rounds.
  • We work with the portfolio company to prove its revenue model.
  • We make a second larger investment in the winners.

ACG Is Leading The Way

The industry has changed since 2008. Venture capital firms have largely moved out of early stage investing. So, angels and angel groups are filling the gap. We are witnessing the rise of the professional angel group, which in many ways looks and acts like a micro-venture capital fund, but made up of individual investors rather than limited partners. Where once the VC’s lead teams of analysts to evaluate companies, now this diligence is shared between the angels. We merged with RAIN Source Capital at the end of 2014 to expand our national reach and our ability to aggregate great minds and capital. We are a national network of experienced angel investors with a model that takes advantage of these changes in the market. Between the two combined networks approximately $48M has been invested in 140 companies creating 4500 jobs and $900M in follow-on capital investments by other funds.

Our passion is innovation, so we bring Angel investors and entrepreneurs together within a structure that mitigates risk and amplifies upside potential. If you’re ready start funding your future, get in touch.

Executive Leadership Team

Eric Dobson, Chief Executive Officer

As CEO, Dr. Dobson is responsible for the implementation of all strategic plans and plays a critical role in developing and implementing the deal sourcing, screening, and due diligence processes that ensure our members are considering only high quality deals. He has expertise in entrepreneurship, startup technology ventures, business planning and development, intellectual property, sales, and marketing.

Dr. Dobson has spent the last 25 years working in a variety of venues from government to private sector, the last 13 on start-up technology ventures. The first 12 years of his career were spend in the private sector working in large scale IT database development and mining, what we now call Big Data. He was the founder of Navigational Sciences Corp. in 2000 deploying RFID technology for the commercial shipping industry and the Department of Homeland Security. In 2007, he founded TrakLok Corporation, a transportation security company focused on global tracking of commercial container shipments. In 2010, he was honored to receive the Navigator Entrepreneur of the Year Award by the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce. In 2011, TrakLok was awarded the Pinnacle Innovator of the Year by the Innovation Valley Technology Council and Knoxville Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Dobson remains a Lecturer at the University of Tennessee in the Department of Management in the School of Business. In his career as an entrepreneur, he raised over $12M from investors from leading angel and venture capital groups.

Scott Ewing, Chief Operations Officer

Scott is the Chief Operating Officer and is in charge of deal flow management. He has an extensive operations and financial services background, and brings key skills in intellectual asset management, technology licensing, and executive leadership. He is a former US naval aviation commander and space operations specialist with two decades of government and industry experience in international programs and technology transfer. Scott also brings seven years’ post-Navy experience as a FINRA-registered investment professional. Scott was most recenlty the CEO of Venture Incite (VI), which was formed to create a new public-private partnership model for migrating high-potential technology out of research laboratories to develop commercially valuable companies and products. VI fostered start-up businesses that apply science and technology derived from potentially groundbreaking university and government research. The firm’s hybrid model combined elements from traditional venture capital investing and technology transfer, while leveraging government funding to achieve technology maturation. VI’s model aligned the objectives of capital sponsors, research institutions and researchers, entrepreneurs, and third-party stakeholders to a primary goal of launching promising technologies and creating valuable new companies.

Steve Mercil, Chief Business Development Officer

Steve is the Chief Business Development Officer and is in charge of creating new chapter/funds for the network. Steve is the most prolific angel group founder in the nation. Steve was most recently the founder and CEO of RAIN Source Capital RSC. ACG and RSC merged in 2014 to create a new model of angel network. RSC created 25 angel capital funds, from $1M – $3M in size, across 8 states with 450 members over the last 10 years. These RAIN Funds and their members have invested over $40M in 106 companies and have an additional $5M in committed capital for future investment. RSC’s portfolio has created over 4500 jobs and $750M in follow-on investment by other funds. Also, RSC is a principal of the InvestAmerica NW, LLC, and the General Partner of Invest Northwest, LP, which is a venture capital fund focused on middle market and later-stage companies. InvestAmerica has invested $15M in 20 companies. RSC empowers angel investors using a proprietary process to create, capitalize, and ignite angel member managed funds. Steve is a former Board member of the Angel Capital Association, has extensive experience in angel and venture capital as well as other areas of private equity.

Chapter Presidents

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Mick Fosson is the Fund Coordinator/General Manager of the Tristate Angel Investment Group Chapter in Ashland, KY.  He is the Director of both the Ashland Innovation Center at Ashland Community and Technical College as well as the Kentucky Innovation Network office at Ashland.  He is a former chemical engineer turned economic development expert.

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As our Nashville Chapter President, David Vulcano is responsible for the activities and membership experience of our Nashville area members. He also assists us in due diligence and serves as the Board member for our portfolio company, Front Gate Films.

David is the AVP, Clinical Research for Hospital Corporation of America (HCA). Responsible for the compliance and growth of clinical research as well as lead the Human Subject Protection Program in the largest non-governmental provider of hospitals, surgical centers and other healthcare delivery service lines. HCA is the nation’s leading provider of healthcare services, composed of locally managed facilities that include 173 hospitals and 108 outpatient centers in 20 states, England, and Switzerland.

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Steve Mercil is the CBDO for Angel Capital Group and the most prolific angel fund founder in the industry.  He works directly with the North Mississippi Angel Fund, West Central Angel Fund, and the Golden Triangle Fund to help set up operations and to lead them in their discovery of great companies and deep diligence.

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Derren Burrell, Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) is the is the Founder & President of Veteran Ventures Capital and the Chapter President for ACG. He serves as Chief Operating Officer for TAG Resources, LLC, a retirement service company with over $1 billion in assets under management, headquartered in Knoxville, TN.  He is an Accredited Investment Fiduciary, Certified Defense Financial Manager, and Level 3 Certified in the Secretary of Defense Financial Management Program.  Prior to his transition to TAG, Derren was the Resource Director of the White House Communication Agency. He worked directly with senior White House (WH) staff, Congressional, comptroller, United States Secret Service, Dept of State, and Defense Information Systems Agency staff in all aspects of financial and contract management in support of POTUS.  He is a graduate of the Citadel and past recipient of several awards including the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medals, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Air Force Budget Officer of the Year twice, Air Force Financial Management Officer of the Year, Comptroller of the Year, and USAFE James E. Short Award for Outstanding Contribution to Mentorship and Career Development.

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Chris is the Fund Coordinator/General Manager for the High Country Impact Fund of Boone, NC.  Chris grew up in the High Country of North Carolina. He received his Masters of Business Administration from Appalachian State University in Fall of 2013.  He manages lending and learning services for Mountain Bizworks, covering the High Country region of WNC. Chris also serves on the board of High Country Local First and Ascent Business Network – not-for-profit organizations that provide entrepreneurial support to business owners and prospective business owners in the High Country.  He is a partner in Center 45 Climbing and Fitness.

History & Philosophy

Betting on stocks is like betting on a horse race at the end of a race. If you want great opportunities, you should be investing early, while they are starting up. -Stephan Paternot

Our History

In 2007, when Angel Capital Group was founded, public markets were in free-fall, job creation had stagnated, and America’s status as the premiere innovative economy in the world had been thoroughly undermined. But in our day-to-day meetings and relationships, we saw a powerful undercurrent of entrepreneurial drive. Americans wanted to create, build, and thrive. They just couldn’t find the funding they needed to get their ideas off the ground.

At the same time, we were hearing complaints from seasoned investors who were searching high and low for investment opportunities that fueled innovation and growth, both in local economies and nationally. Founder Rachael Qualls saw an opportunity to create a company that generated real economic growth by bringing investors and entrepreneurs together in a mutually beneficial environment. Angel Capital Group was born.

Our first chapters were in Nashville and Knoxville, TN. A small but committed group of seasoned, successful Angel investors in each location came together once a month to meet new entrepreneurs, discuss exciting opportunities, and collaborate together to gain the benefit of diverse experience. Now, we call this “crowdsourcing” knowledge.

Since our inception we’ve added chapters across the country; and others coming online soon.  We decided early on that we would source deals from the Heartland and that our members would have the freedom and opportunity to invest in any deal, regardless of geography.

Now, we’re ready to further expand our network of committed Angel investors. There are too many opportunities out there to pass up, and as a network of Angels we’re ready to increase our funding power with new locations and new Angel members online.

To learn more about joining our cause, or about founding a chapter location, check out our membership page.

Startups are the source of innovation and job creation in the modern economy. -Eric Dobson, CEO

Our Philosophy

We focus on a niche but vital stage of private equity funding: Angel investing. Most entrepreneurs start their businesses or begin developing their ideas with personal funds and time. Occasionally, friends and family will lend them money, too. But it’s not until a business has demonstrated revenue and market traction, or has special patents, licenses, or trademarks, that they begin to appeal to venture capital firms, who are typically seeking to deploy $3,000,000 or more per investment.

Angels bridge the gap. Our capital helps entrepreneurs make critical investments in technology, research and development, marketing and sales channel development, and myriad other post-startup/pre-corporate processes required to truly bring an idea to market. Simply put: without Angel investing, nearly every product or service you rely upon today could have died on the drawing board.

But life for the individual Angel investor can be risky. A wealthy individual only has access to as many deals as exist in his or her limited sphere of influence. The lone Angel may not have the time or resources to personally screen each deal, to conduct the background reports and legal due diligence required to put the risk of adverse selection at bay. You won’t have to look far to find a lone angel with a horror story.  Most importantly, to sufficiently empower the entrepreneur with enough capital, the lone Angel may end up making fewer, larger investments–a practice that single-handedly results in higher risk, just the way that investing an entire retirement account in a single stock would be considered high risk.

Our philosophy is that the risks of early stage investing are best managed by investing alongside a group of other successful Angel investors. Deal flow, screening, and due diligence are higher quality; legal, accounting, and deal structuring expenses are lower. Angels are able to invest smaller amounts in more deals since they can rely on other members to contribute the capital necessary to empower the entrepreneurs, so each individual develops a broader portfolio that still offers highly attractive potential returns.

Successful Angel investing requires a process and a portfolio strategy. Angel Capital Group was created to provide both.

What We Believe

We believe in investing smaller amounts individually in larger numbers of companies – statistically, this is a winning strategy.

We believe in investing in the American Heartland because we find outstanding teams, who no longer have to live on a coast to access resources to create highly productive companies, at valuations that make sense.

We believe that standardized, professional diligence is the key to selecting the very best deal flow in the nation and a winning portfolio.

We believe our speed of investment (two months from yes to a wire) is a key advantage for our network.

We believe our model is ready to scale across the US to create the first “community equity banking system.”

We believe that participation in an established angel group is key to reducing your risk in angel investing.

We believe this is the way we restore America’s economic greatness one community at a time.

If you believe these things, please contact us about becoming a member. To learn more, keep reading or just get in touch. Our monthly chapter meetings are the best way to experience what true Angel investing is all about.

Benefits Of Membership

We love to let our members do the talking on this one. The following list consists of common statements from members of our local network chapters on why they joined and what they get out of membership with Angel Capital Group:

  1. It’s a great way to stay connected to innovative, cutting edge developments in business, healthcare, and more.
  2. I get to meet and build relationships with other likeminded, successful entrepreneurs.
  3. I gain the benefit of many experienced investors from various backgrounds when considering whether or not to invest in a deal.
  4. I see better deals through a group than I could see through my personal network.
  5. I can send deals that come to me personally through Angel Capital Group and gain access to the due diligence, legal, accounting and deal structuring fees paid for through my membership fees, and also access more capital than I could (or should) personally contribute to a deal.
  6. I get to see deals from everywhere in the country, not just in my backyard.
  7. Dedicated staff handle all the details so I can focus on funding exciting entrepreneurs and innovations.
  8. Companies I invest in have access to the professional networks of every Angel Capital Group member, as well as staff resources and connections.
  9. Investing alongside other Angels lets me deploy smaller amounts of capital across more deals. I don’t have to dump all my Angel money in a small handful of deals.

Our Process

We receive over 1000 applications for funding per year. We invest in 10 companies per year. So, this is a very competitive process that we take very seriously. We use Venture360 to collect deal flow. We require a standardized platform for sharing your deal information with our investors across the country. If you wish to apply for funding, please go to our website: Apply for Funding. This starts a formal process to move companies quickly and efficiently through our diligence process. All our dealflow comes through this portal. It gives us the ability to quickly tell them our level of interest in the venture and it serves as the basis for our diligence reports to our investor/members. Companies that apply, will receive a response. Help us help you by being as concise and to the point as possible in this process.

Portfolio Curation

Angel Capital Group believes in curating companies. We make fast first investments in science and technology enabled companies that meet our investment criteria.

We have a well defined investment process.  From the point of our initial angel investment, we work with the company to prove the scalability of their revenue model and the team’s ability to execute. Then, typically within six to twelve months, we lead or participate in a second, larger round that is open to all members of the Alliance.

In short, we reinvest in the winners. Our goal is to move a company across the “Chasm of Death” and “Series A Crunch” to the point they can scale organically or we can hand them off to friendly investors at the next level, complete with a full diligence report, pedigree, and documented history of execution and success. We will again help you syndicate around the industry to fill your round of capital. We believe this is the most efficient way to ensure success of our portfolio, minimize risk on both parts, and protect our investments. This works best as a partnership between great investors and great companies.

To learn more about finding a local chapter, or about founding a chapter location, check out our Locations page.

What We Value

  • Outstanding teams of hardworking, accomplished entrepreneurs
  • Products/services that address real-world problems with clear solutions demonstrating value to the client
  • Outstanding business models that demonstrate a clear value proposition
  • Clear understanding of the competitive landscape
  • Clear marketing and sales plans
  • Clear exit strategy