From Illinois Business Journal news services
ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Arch Angels Network had another active year in 2015, investing almost $9 million in 24 promising companies, eight of which were new startups.
The newly released annual report shows the year ended with the Arch Angels consisting of more than 75 active members, who collectively have invested more than $59 million in 67 companies over the past 11 years.
“The St. Louis Arch Angels Network has become nationally recognized as being critical to the early stage business ecosystem in the St. Louis region,” noted Brian Kinman, chairman of the St. Louis Arch Angels. “That’s no accident, but rather the result of the hard work and dedication of both our leadership team and the membership as a whole. This has helped to make our organization the respected and highly effective entity it is today. We’re thrilled to be such an active contributor to the strength of the ecosystem and enthusiastic for the future.”
The promising, new early-stage companies that impressed the Arch Angles in 2015 include two digital companies. The first, Epharmix, is a seed-funded, revenue-generating, digital health startup. The company creates clinically validated, condition-specific communication tools: SMS and phone-based “digital interventions.” S4 is a data analytics company that turns technical data into actionable information for agricultural risk management. The company provides prescription, portfolio management and parametric insurance that is customized to serve three target markets: insurance providers, agricultural suppliers, and farmers/producers.
Arvegenix is also operating in the agricultural space, domesticating an oilseed called Field Pennycress as a new cover crop that will produce an advanced feedstock for biodiesel and animal feed. The crop grows in the offseason and doesn’t compete with the food supply. It also improves soil health and can increase farm income.
In 2015, Arch Angel investors backed the new molecular diagnostics firm Nanopore Diagnostics, LLC, which focuses on developing a rapid, point-of-care testing device for diagnosing bacterial infections. This test will ensure physicians are properly informed before having to make antibiotic decisions. Other companies in the life sciences arena receiving funds included Antegrin Therapeutics and Elira Therapeutics. Antegrin Therapeutics is developing small-molecule therapeutics for the treatment of fibrotic diseases. The company’s drugs are projected to slow or even halt the fibrotic process in pulmonary fibrosis, as well as in other fibrotic diseases for which effective therapies are not available. Elira Therapeutics, Inc. is a medical device company developing a system to suppress appetite and assist with diet adherence.
In addition, Arch Angels invested in Nexmatix LLC (formerly AeroValve LLC), a company focused on designing, developing and manufacturing energy efficient technologies for pneumatic systems. Illustrating the diversity of its investments in 2015 by taking on the $5 billion private-dining industry, Arch Angels members invested in SixPlus (formerly BookaLokal), a platform for booking private dining and cocktail events for six to 200 guests.
The other companies receiving follow-on funding from the Arch Angels in 2015 included:
• Benson Hill
• Capital Innovators
• Sequoia Sciences
• Yield Lab
Through the end of 2015, members of the Arch Angels network have also celebrated successful exits from five of the startup companies funded during the organization’s first 10 years. Those include Gridlogix, which was acquired by Johnson Controls in 2009; U.S. Spine, which was acquired by Amedica Corporation in 2010; Divergence, which was acquired by Monsanto in 2011; Media Convergence Group, Inc. (Newsy.com), which was acquired by E.W. Scripps in 2013 and Somark, which was acquired by Two Oceans Pty Ltd., also in 2013. This past year the Arch Angels also had a successful partial exit from the fintech company Clearent.
This year is starting out to be another promising year for Arch Angels, with the 2016 deal flow appearing to be stronger than ever and heightened interest from potential new investors.
“As the startup community continues to expand, the challenge, and also the opportunity, lies in having an even faster track to identify the most promising deals, an accelerated due diligence process, and more dollars to invest in the companies with the greatest potential,” noted Kinman. “In the end, that will lead to better outcomes for the startups, the investment community, our region at large and of course, our membership.”
The annual report for 2015 provides more details on the all the companies invested in over the past 11 years, as well as information on the network’s role in the St. Louis startup ecosystem and an overview of how accredited investors can get involved with the group. Copies of the report are available for download at www.stlouisarchangels.com or by calling (314) 444-1151 to request an electronic copy via email.
The St. Louis Arch Angels network was established in January 2005 as an independent, 501c(3) not-for-profit corporation. Arch Angel members, who are business leaders from the St. Louis region, provide seed and early-stage capital in the range of $250K-$1M, an investment range not generally served by venture capitalists. The network was organized by the St. Louis Regional Chamber and the Nidus Center for Scientific Enterprise.