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A match made in Heaven? DL college wants to pair up investors and innovators to grow new business

It only takes an idea to start a successful business.

Well, an idea plus some start-up money. And some business acumen would help.

That's where the Minnesota State Community and Technical College is stepping in as part of a Business & Entrepreneurial Services program that launched last fall.

As part of the program, the MSCTC is presenting the fourth segment of its Entrepreneurship Speaker Series on Oct. 3.

MSCTC-DL provost Cristobal Valdez said that one of the keys to launching an entrepreneurship program is helping prospective business owners come up with initial funding.

One of those ways is angel investing, where a group of individuals pool their money to fund new companies.

"It really is a start up fund for businesses," he said.

Unlike venture capital, angel investing deals with much smaller amounts of money to help turn an idea into reality.

"Folks tend to be familiar with venture capitalists, but with venture capitalists, you're talking about millions of dollars," Valdez said.

"The real appeal of angel investing networks here is there is a fund of a half of a million dollars to $2 million," he said.

Local entrepreneur Ed Gehrke said angel investing is unique because most ventures are expected to fail. By pooling money together, investors can put their money into several businesses and find a diamond.

"It means taking a high risk on people," Gehrke said. "One of seven will be successful and that one will make up for the others, so to speak."

Informing the public about angel investing is Valdez's goal come Oct. 3.

"The October day is two-fold," Valdez said. "We want to bring in MBA students from the University of North Dakota and talk to the general public about angel investing," Valdez said.

UND's program is unique in that it's one of three student-run venture funds in the country.

Valdez wants to make angel investing a local endeavor. An interesting concept is Regional Angel Investing Networks (RAIN) funds.

Finding investors is a challenge, but Valdez hopes that through networking, like-minded individuals will connect.

"Most of that is networking, and finding individuals with the capacity and the desire," Valdez said.

That's the concept behind RAINSs, tying local investors to local businesses.

"We really think there is an opportunity to start an angel investing network here," Valdez said. "We have folks that have the means and the desire to invest in small businesses or entrepreneurial ventures."

Investing in local companies could be a win-win situation, especially if a business takes off.

"The overall benefit for that is we're promoting local businesses and helping them to grow," Valdez said. "We're promoting entrepreneurial ventures and keeping that money local with local investors who are in the (RAIN) network.

"And the money continues to be here as successful businesses contribute to the economic development of the community."

The speaker series starts at 10 a.m. and lunch will follow. There is no charge for attending and registration is not required. However, an RSVP is requested.

To RSVP or for more information, call Patty Health Gordon at (218) 846-3804.