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Headwaters Angel Network connects investors to local entrepreneurs

A new initiative by Greater Bemidji called the Headwater Angel Network aims to connect local entrepreneurs to nearby high-net-worth investors to make their business dreams come true.

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Greater Bemidji
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BEMIDJI — When the inspiration for a business strikes it can be invigorating, but once the search for capital begins it can feel like the only way to get it off the ground is a miracle. That’s where the Headwaters Angel Network comes into play.

A new initiative with Greater Bemidji, the network aims to connect local entrepreneurs with a dream to nearby investors who have the capital.

“The Angel Network is essentially a platform to connect entrepreneurs with high-net-worth investors,” said Brian Huch, director of the network. “Essentially, the goal of it is to expand the opportunity and access to capital for local entrepreneurs.”

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Brian Huch

The network is designed to address the frequent obstacle that new businesses and entrepreneurs face when looking for money to fund their ventures since often banks and other funding sources aren’t willing to take on the risk without requiring high collateral or down payments.

“Some people can get banked, but a lot of people can’t really find somebody willing to take on the risk without significant collateral,” Huch explained. “So they have the idea, they have the appetite, but they run into not being able to capitalize the business.”

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With the Angel Network, however, entrepreneurs would have a new avenue to access funds. After applying to the program, they can receive advice and resources before pitching their ideas to local investors who might consider financing their enterprise.

“That’s really our goal with Bemidji, is to add another way for entrepreneurs to get capital,” Huch said. “There are so many people out there who have a great idea and who want to start a business. We want to see them succeed.”

No idea too big or small

The network is open to entrepreneurs with ideas of all shapes and sizes, with a particular focus on those with a local or regional connection.

“There’s no idea too big or too small to pitch. Whether the entrepreneur needs $5,000 or $5 million, they are welcome to apply,” Huch said.

Once an application has been accepted, the team at Greater Bemidji will help them hone their idea and prepare a pitch for the network of investors.

“We help them get their pitch decks ready, refine their idea and analyze their finances,” Huch explained. “We want to make sure they can put their best foot forward to pitch to these investors.”

Headwaters Angel Network is also accepting interested investors who have an interest in supporting local entrepreneurs and businesses.

For us to continue to ensure a successful community here in Bemidji, we have to resist the temptation to just discuss, argue, spin and do nothing. There is simply too much long-range risk in comfortable inaction.

“We’re open to any investors to apply. The one caveat is that you do have to be what’s called an accredited investor, and that’s something that’s set by the Securities Exchange Commission,” Huch said.

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For those investors who meet the criteria, the network provides several advantages and streamlines the process of decision-making and financing.

“There’s a lot of advantages investors get from joining our network as opposed to trying to do this sort of thing on their own,” Huch explained. “We’re helping find these companies and prepare them to pitch. We’re helping curate the way the whole network operates which makes investing simpler.”

Getting involved

Interest has already been growing in the network, and over a dozen investors have already made commitments to the program.

“We’ve got commitments from more than a dozen investors already, and we’ve heard from surrounding cities like Grand Rapids and other venture capital firms like Launch Minnesota,” Huch shared. “(They) all want to be a part of what we’re doing.”

There’s also been growing interest on the side of entrepreneurs and businesses, as five companies have already started preparing to pitch their ideas.

“We’ve got great things going on in Bemidji,” Huch said, “having something local in Bemidji, having local people supporting you, just makes a world of difference.”

Anyone interested in the Headwaters Angel Network can go to the program's website, headwatersangelnetwork.com or reach out to Huch or anyone else at Greater Bemidji for more information. Applications are available online for entrepreneurs and businesses, and interested investors should reach out to Huch via email, at bhuch@greaterbemidji.com.

“This could be something to help those local entrepreneurs who are dreaming big to pursue those dreams,” Huch said. “Reaching out to me, the website or anyone at Greater Bemidji is the best way for anyone to get involved.”

Related Topics: BUSINESSCITY OF BEMIDJI
Nicole Ronchetti is a reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer, focusing on local government and community health.
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