Managing principal, Anderson Pacific, Chicago; member, Hyde Park Angels, Chicago
HYDE PARK ANGELS
Total pledged capital: $14.8 million | Chicago-area investments in 2014: 4 | Amount invested in 2014: $4.0 million
Winning pitch: Chicago-based NuCurrent (NuCurrent.com) develops high-efficiency antennas for wireless power applications, eliminating the need to plug chargers into outlets. The company's antenna technology, which can apply to everything from cellphones to office furniture, is being incorporated into products made by Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Gill Electronics. Co-founded by Jacob Babcock, 32, and Vinit Singh, 35, NuCurrent was named a finalist for the 2014 Chicago Innovation Awards. The company will not disclose revenue.
Amount funded: Hyde Park Angels kicked in $850,000, making it the largest investor in a $3.8 million Series A round of funding that closed Oct. 21. Funding will be used to further commercial development and increase market share.
Why I bit: "I heard Jacob's name three different ways in a timeframe of five days, and I knew there were other VCs looking at the deal, so I said, 'I've got to meet up with him,' " Jensen says. "We had lunch on a Thursday; the HPA quarterly meeting was the following Tuesday. We have protocols in place before someone can present at our meetings, and it's unheard of to go around those protocols. But I felt so strongly that Jacob had something here that I pushed to have him present.
"I knew someone was going to fund this: The company's list of partners, customers and investors is strong. There are some big names in the pipeline, and that really gets your attention. Plus, every time I met with Jacob, I liked him even more. He's a strong entrepreneur and a lawyer by background, so he's good at negotiating deals. He thoroughly understood the market. And he bootstrapped the company for three years, so he has some financial discipline. The company started as a medical device company, and then he pivoted the business to a wireless charging company. He thought the opportunity in wireless charging was stronger, and so do we.
"There are serious barriers to entry, and the company has nearly 20 patents to date, so they are ahead in that area. There are two or three competitors, so it is a race."
Advice: "You have 90 seconds to get someone's attention," Jensen says. "Your initial pitch should give a clear explanation of your business and quickly and clearly convey your pain points. With NuCurrent, the question was, 'Why would someone be interested in wireless charging?' Once Jacob answered that, then the light bulb goes off. Closing the meeting is important, too. I appreciate it when an entrepreneur ends a meeting with questions like: 'What are next steps? What else do you need? What follow-up items can I prepare for you?' It seems simple, but not everyone does it."