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While the COVID-19 pandemic caused some investors to hit pause on some deals, the Houston Angel Network, which has doubled its membership over the past couple years, has maintained its deal flow and investment, while taking every opportunity to connect members virtually.
"Nothing's really changed — in terms of our activity — other than the fact that we can't meet in person," says Stephanie Campbell, managing director of HAN. "We quickly pivoted to virtual."
Campbell — who also is also a founding partner at Houston-based, female-focused venture capital group, The Artemis Fund — says she still saw the interest and need on each side of venture deals.
"What I realized was, especially working at a venture fund, the deal flow isn't going away. Companies still need capital — and investors are still interested in looking at deals," Campbell tells InnovationMap.
HAN, which was founded as a nonprofit in 2001, continues to be touted as among the most active angel network in the country. The organization has five industry groups that it focuses its deals on — energy, life sciences, technology, consumer products, and aerospace.
At each monthly meeting, members hear three pitches. However, Campbell is vetting many more companies far more deals and passing them along the network as she goes. All in all, HAN investors do around 100 deals a year with an average investment of $100,000.
Since Campbell joined in 2018, membership has doubled from 60 members to 120. Campbell says it's her goal to get to 150 members by the end of the year.
Stephanie Campbell has led HAN as managing director since 2018.
"Despite COVID, we've continued to grow," Campbell says, adding that she's heard investors express that they have more time now to dive in. "People are very much still interested in learning about deploying their capital into early-stage venture. They're looking for a network of like-minded individuals."
Campbell explains that, with the switch to virtual pitches and events, HAN is congregating more than ever. In the spring, Campbell introduced a thought leadership series, called Venture Vs. The Virus, that brought investment leaders together to discuss how the pandemic was affecting venture capital.
HAN is also using this time to better tap into technology to connect members with startups. On the back end, Campbell says, she's looking to enhance digital engagement with members and also improve data reporting within the organization.
From increasing networking and educational events and growing membership, HAN is prioritizing growing its place in the Houston innovation ecosystem. Campbell says she sees the pandemic is causing investors and tech talent on the coasts to re-evaluate where their living, and that's going to benefit Texas. Houston is going to see an influx of tech talent coming to town, and that's going to translate to more startups being founded locally.
"We want to make sure that we are a big part of this transition toward a more diverse and resilient economy," Campbell says. "Now's the time to lean in on Houston."