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AZ Tech Beat | December 9, 2019

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Grand Canyon University launches Canyon Angels investment group geared to early-stage startups

Grand Canyon University launches Canyon Angels investment group geared to early-stage startups
Tishin Donkersley

A new angel group has emerged in Arizona and it’s found on the campus of Grand Canyon University (GCU).

Canyon Angels spawned out of the success of GCU’s Canyon Challenge, where 70 teams competed for a $15,000 prize.

The group was solidified through the Colangelo College of Business at GCU and Jerry Colangelo, with the goal of increasing the number of active investors in Phoenix. The Canyon Angels network has accredited investors affiliated with Grand Canyon University looking to fund early-stage high-growth businesses.

Tim Kelly

Tim Kelley

Tim Kelley, Colangelo College of Business faculty member and former chair of the Thunderbird Angel Network, is leading operations and growth of Canyon Angels. His focus is to extend the startup community, encourage high net-worth individuals to get involved in the angel community and educate students about angel investing.

“[My goal is to] broaden the spectrum for angels in the Valley. Currently there are 140,000 individuals who qualify as accredited investors, yet only 1,000 are involved in angel groups.” Kelley said.

Canyon Angels also has an educational arm where GCU students can volunteer for the preliminary due diligence committee when deals come through.

“Students spend 4 to 5 weeks researching the teams, looking at the structural components, verifying the data, etc., with faculty and angel oversight. In the end, the students get to see [the company pitch] and be a part of it,” Kelley explained.

The group has partnered with notable Arizona angel groups, Desert Angels (DA), Arizona Technology Investors (ATI) and ASU’s Thunderbird Angels.

“Canyon Angels is an independent 501C6 structure and works on the same platform as ATI and DA  for deals. We believe a collaborative environment is healthy for putting deals together while raising syndication in the Valley,” Kelley said.

Another goal for Canyon Angels is to increase the quality of investor opportunities.

“The [Arizona] ecosystem has matured in the last five years and there are higher quality of companies coming through the incubators. [Canyon Angels] is putting together a formidable structure so when startups do come through the angel networks, there is money. There are channels here, there is money [in Arizona], we think we can add to the ecosystem and grow it,” Kelley said.

Kelley looks to grow Canyon Angels to 75 independent investors and host four pitch events each year.

Another GCU fund in the works is the The Lope Kingdom Fund designed to fund startup businesses along the Canyon Corridor. Currently the 501C3 fund has $500,000 set aside and plans to launch in 2016.

“We’re excited about growing the ecosystem it’s a great step for GCU and the Valley to promote entrepreneurship,” Kelley said.

The Canyon Angel group is holding an inaugural event where three startups, who were picked by GCU business students, will pitch their business plans to investors on October 14 from 5:30-8:00 p.m. Interested investors can register at canyonangels.org.

Read more about AZ startups getting funded here.