Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The University of St Andrews Angel Network has launched its newest chapter in New York City. The Network, or UStAAAN, is an organisation completely comprised of St Andrews alumni, faculty members, students and families, that aims to connect global angel investing and entrepreneurship with individuals associated with the University of St Andrews. The organisation already has a presence in London, and hopes to build on this through the New York Chapter.

The project is the brainchild of Matthew Leonard, a current Fourth year at the University. Mr Leonard co-founded the organisation with Andrew Romero, an alumnus in New York City. The two are incredibly dedicated to this organisation and have co-ordinated and partnered with several reputable companies and investors, such as London Business Angels and Tiger 21. Mr Leonard has also been applauded for his efforts, recently being voted as one of the ‘40 under 40’ by Scottish Business Network News.

UStAAAN was founded by Mr Leonard in order to help connect the prolific entrepreneurial activity of the individuals who are part of the University of St Andrews community, whether they are alumnus, teachers or students. One example of such entrepreneurial activity is Edinburgh based husband and wife duo, Lesley and Nigel Eccles, who are co-founders of Fantasy Sports giant Fanduel. Meanwhile, London based Damian Kimmelman is co-founder of Due Dil, and was named International Entrepreneur of the Year at the inaugural Tech City News Hall of Fame in June 2014. Elsewhere, in San Francisco, Jasper Platz has co-founded the company Tally with Fintech. A rich collection of innovative spin-out companies can also be found within St Andrews, one example being Xelect Ltd, which provides specialist genetics support to the aquaculture industry and is led by world renowned Professor Ian Johnston.

After becoming aware of this diverse range of activity across the globe, Mr Leonard saw the benefits a networking platform could bring to individuals such as these: “UStAAAN endeavours to foster this entrepreneurial culture by connecting such like-minded individuals and providing the necessary infrastructure to allow alumni, students and faculty [members] to grow their early stage ventures through access to capital investment and mentorship” said Hannah Collins, a current fourth-year student at the University, who is involved with UStAAAN.

The Fall Launch Event for UStAAAN’s New York Chapter took place on Tuesday 18 October in the Upper East Side at company Tiger 21’s Manhattan townhouse. The event was received with much enthusiasm, and within two weeks of advertising the event, UStAAAN was at capacity and now, is heavily over-subscribed.

The launch celebrated the grand opening of the second chapter of UStAAAN, but also featured guest speaker David Rose. It was a perfect opportunity for investors and new start-ups to connect, especially amidst such high profile companies and individuals. Tiger 21 is a prestigious and established community of individuals who share the interest of increasing their capital through providing assistance for new companies. Members include real estate investors, entrepreneurs, and CEOs. The guest speaker Mr Rose is founder and Chairman Emeritus of the New York Angels, founder and CEO of Gust, and the New York Times bestselling author of Angel Investing: The Gust Guide to Making Money & Having Fun Investing in Startups and The Startup Checklist: 25 Steps to a Scalable, High-Growth Business. Naturally, the launch served as a celebration, but also as an informational session for those interested in getting involved, whether as a member investor or start-up seeking support.

There are several ways in which current students can take advantage of UStAAAN. The network’s criteria for what classifies as a successful early stage venture is quite expansive and advanced, making it potentially difficult for students to qualify. Nevertheless, UStAAAN can still be a useful tool for current students because of its educational initiatives. For instance, the Chairman of the NYC Chapter Andrew Romero and fellow Board Member David Hemenway delivered an educational seminar exploring angel investing in the US for students through the Careers Centre last semester.

The network can also connect student entrepreneurs with the NYC Board and Investors to provide advice and mentorship as they grow their business. In addition, the opportunity for mentorship also applies to alumni with early stage ventures and, given the criteria they will be much more likely to benefit from the network as a platform for raising capital.

After their successful New York launch, UStAAAN hopes to continue to expand the network in New York, and launch in London in the next coming months. Efforts in London are being led by alumnus Stephen Grist, the CFO of ‎Bohemia Interactive Simulations. The network also endeavours to expand UStAAAN’s presence within the student body in St Andrews, making people aware that the network exists as an educational resource, platform for mentorship and (if the student venture qualifies) help with the capital raising process.

Visit http://us.ustaan.org/ for more information on UStAAAN and its New York Chapter.

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