Creating one of the first organized angel investment groups in the Kansas City area was the motivation behind the founding of Mid-America Angels Investments (MAA), a program inside the Enterprise Center of Johnson County.
Joel Wiggins, the co-founder and executive director of MAA, moved to the Kansas City area in 2005 from Austin, Texas, where he was the director of the Austin Technology Incubator. Impressed with the area’s entrepreneurial community, Wiggins felt there were great success stories coming out of the area and that the community “was about to pop,” he said during a phone interview.
Kansas City is home to the Angel Capital Assocation, which is the North American trade organization for angel groups. But Wiggins said when he looked at the map of the locations of all of those groups, Kansas City was nowhere to be found.
MAA aims to provide diverse investment opportunities for its members. Wiggins said that most individual members contribute around $25,000 to $50,000 per investment.
For entrepreneurs, MAA is dedicated to identifying and funding innovative companies. Since 2006, the group has invested over $10 million in 28 companies in and around the greater Kansas City area. “We’re always looking for good deals for entrepreneurs,” Wiggins said. MAA is looking for startups that have an innovative product or service in a sizable market — usually at least $100 million — and at least one full-time employee or founder.
Most of MAA’s investment efforts result in about $250,000 to $500,000 of funding, often pooled from several members. While most of the early-stage companies MAA has worked with are located in the Kansas City area, some have reached as far as Iowa, Nebraska and the outlying areas of Kansas and Missouri. A company in any state that borders Kansas or Missouri would be considered for investment, Wiggins said.
In 2012, MAA has made six investments. Those include EyeVerify, an app that uses eye vein biometrics for mobile authentication; Leap 2, a mobile search app; and Movista, an enterprise software provider for managing retail workforce.
Credits: Photo of Wiggins from linkedin.com.