Brian Holst, Executive Director of the Juneau Economic Development Council, speaks to the Chamber of Commerce during its weekly luncheon at the Moose Lodge on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)                                 Brian Holst, Executive Director of the Juneau Economic Development Council, speaks to the Chamber of Commerce during its weekly luncheon at the Moose Lodge on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Brian Holst, Executive Director of the Juneau Economic Development Council, speaks to the Chamber of Commerce during its weekly luncheon at the Moose Lodge on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire) Brian Holst, Executive Director of the Juneau Economic Development Council, speaks to the Chamber of Commerce during its weekly luncheon at the Moose Lodge on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Juneau Economic Development Council to start angel investment pool

The conference is part of an effort by the JEDC to promote entrepreneurship and small businesses

If you’ve ever wanted to dabble in angel investing in a lower risk setting, January will be your chance.

Brian Holst, executive director of the Juneau Economic Development Council, announced Thursday at a luncheon that the JEDC will host an angel investor conference starting in January. Angel investors are business investors who provide capital usually in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity. But, what’s labeled as a conference is actually more of a five-month learning process for a pool of investors.

“The concept of the conference is a multi-month effort,” Holst said. “We are looking for people who are interested in becoming angel investors.” These type of investors are gnerally at a stage in their lives where they are willing to invest in someone elses’ business and provide support and mentorship to new entrepreneurs.

“We just don’t have enough of [these people] in Alaska,” Holst said.

A report by the Angel Capital Association found that only .6 percent of all angel investors in the country come from Alaska, with the most coming from California at 17 percent. The report also found that angels are most likely to get involved through traditional angel groups, such as the conference the JEDC is hosting, rather than via the influence of informal relationships, individual endeavor or emerging online vehicles such as GoFundMe and other crowdfunding sites.

The JEDC is working in collaboration with people in Anchorage and Fairbanks to start the event. Holst said they are looking for people to invest a minimum of $5,000, which when added to a pool of 20 other investors would equal about the size of a typical angel investment of $100,000. By collaborating together in a pool, it will allow people who might be interested in learning about angel investment to get a feel for the process without as much risk.

“After that these angel investors will either say, ‘I understand enough about how to do this and I’m going to go help another company in my hometown,’ or ‘I’m going to get myself into another pool of investors and learn a little bit more this process,’” said Holst.

The reliance on angel groups to discover investment opportunities is particularly prominent among angels who have less than two years of investing experience, according to the Angel Capital Association report.

The conference is part of an effort by the JEDC to promote entrepreneurship and small businesses in the community, one of their five main goals. Most job growth happens in smaller companies, Holst said at the luncheon. In Alaska, there are 71,841 small businesses, which accounts for about 99 percent of overall Alaska businesses, according to a report from the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy. 53.2 percent of people employed in the state work at small businesses.

While there have been some losses in population and overall jobs since a recent peak in 2015, Juneau continues to have a solid economy, Holst said, pointing to increased numbers of sole proprietors, self-employed people and independent contractors, which increased by 12.5 percent from 2013 to 2016, according to the JEDC’s annual Juneau and Southeast Alaska Indicators and Outlook Report.

Interested in getting involved?

Contact Brian Holst at bholst@jedc.org or 523-2333.


• Contact reporter Mollie Barnes at 523-2228 or mbarnes@juneauempire.com.


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