Opinion: Angel investing spurs business growth and economic diversity

Credit: Startup NV

By Jeff Saling

May 3, 2024
By: Jeff Saling, executive director of StartUpNV, a nonprofit incubator and accelerator for Nevada-based startups that sponsors the AngelNV program for Nevada business growth.

Recently, seven Nevada-based startups vied for a $200,000 first place investment from local angel investors during the Shark-Tank style finale of the AngelNV program. This investment was matched by funds from the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) administered by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development for a grand total of $400,000. The runner up received a $90,000 angel investment plus a SSBCI match for a total of $180,000. For a small business just starting to scale, this capital investment can be the difference between success and failure.

Grand Prize Winner: Tilt.

Nevada Business Growth

Credit: StartUp NV




Runner-up winner: ZenCentiv.

Nevada Business Growth

Credit: StartUp NV

StartUpNV was founded on the premise that building a robust angel investor community in Nevada will enable local startups to grow and ultimately, strengthen our state’s economy by supporting a more diversified startup ecosystem that reaches beyond our traditional leading industries of gaming, hospitality, and mining.

Through its various incubator and accelerator programs, including AngelNV, StartUpNV provides startups with expert mentorship and easier access to a network of angel investors and capital partners. StartUpNV’s founders, mentors, university connections, investors, and business partners work together to grow and support a robust, inclusive startup ecosystem in Nevada.

Since inception in 2017, StartUpNV has heard pitches from more than 1,000 startups seeking to participate in the various education and investment programs. Clearly, there is a strong entrepreneurial spirit in Nevada, and StartUpNV is answering the call to shepherd Nevada’s entrepreneurs to success through providing programs that offer education, mentoring, and facilitating access to capital investment. In fact, over the past seven years, StartUpNV has seen nearly $80 million in venture capital raised for more than 55 companies.

One of StartUpNV’s programs dedicated to this goal is its annual entrepreneur and investor bootcamp, AngelNV. The two-track program educates entrepreneurs on how to raise venture capital and works with both first-time and experienced investors on how to find, screen, and invest in high potential startups.

Over the last four years, AngelNV welcomed nearly 200 investors who together have invested close to $1.25 million in 9 Nevada-based startups. Coupled with matching funds from Nevada’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), AngelNV has facilitated nearly $2 million to be invested in unique startups that were founded by Nevadans and are employing people in the Silver State. While prior performance can’t predict future results, the previous investments are currently valued at about 40% more than the money invested.

The startups supported by AngelNV over the years have spanned a gamut of industries, such as artificial intelligence, health care, security, advertising, video production, and consumer goods. And the entrepreneurs span a broad cross section of our population. For example, nearly a quarter of the entrepreneurs are minority, 5% are veterans, and more than 20% are female.

Similarly, nearly half of the AngelNV investor group is from an underserved community, including 19% being women and 29% being a minority – significantly exceeding national and historic averages. This diversity is due in part to the fact that investors need not be “super wealthy” to participate in AngelNV. They can be at the beginning of their startup investment journey, such as successful professionals or retirees. As a result, AngelNV is broadening the pool of well-informed startup investors and building a more diverse and homegrown angel investor network in Nevada.

By growing Nevada’s angel investor network and supporting entrepreneurs in their quest to succeed, AngelNV is helping to build generational wealth for a broad spectrum of families in Nevada. At the same time, it is bolstering the development of industries that may be new or less represented in our state’s economy. And in doing so, it is also creating a more robust and inclusive startup ecosystem that creates jobs and can play an integral role in economic diversification – similar to what has happened in cities like Austin, Denver, and Boston. This could be considered a perfect trifecta for positive economic impact.

And AngelNV is just one of seven programs sponsored by StartUpNV. Taken together, these programs offer a myriad of resources and investment opportunities to support a startup located anywhere in Nevada and at any phase of its business development, including the idea stage, revenue stage, or growth stage.

Aspiring to be the epicenter of startup growth in Nevada, StartUpNV is driven by a passion for connecting local investors with local founders, fostering a thriving ecosystem where innovation and economic diversity flourish. Its mission is to empower an entrepreneur with the tools, knowledge, and network to transform their startup dreams into reality relies on the participation of not only mentors but also angel investors – even with just a modest investment amount. That is where more Nevadans can get involved, because becoming an angel investor can be a win-win for everyone. Interested investors and entrepreneurs can get more information about StartUpNV and its AngelNV program at www.startupnv.org.

Related: Op-ed: USDA’s clean energy investments support rural Nevadans

  • Jeff Saling

    StartUpNV Co-Founder and Executive Director Jeff is a start-up founder and early-stage public company executive with more than 30 years’ experience. Jeff has been part of 4 successful exits from enterprise B2B SaaS companies between 1998 and 2016. Jeff’s experience includes running worldwide sales, professional services, SaaS operations, and product development. Jeff co-founded StartUpNV, a nonprofit incubator and accelerator for Nevada-based startups, in 2017. Since then, they have heard pitches from more than 1,000 startups seeking to participate in StartUpNV’s various education and investment programs. In addition, StartUpNV has seen nearly $80 million in venture capital raised for more than 55 companies. Jeff graduated from California State University (Hayward) in 1983 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business (Production and Operations Management). For more detailed information see https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffsaling



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