Loyola Brings Angel Investors to Campus

Emily, Clayton '78, M.B.A. '93, J.D. '07 (center), Alex, and Dominick '52 White.
Emily, Clayton '78, M.B.A. '93, J.D. '07 (center), Alex, and Dominick '52 White.

A very wise, ancient philosopher once said: “What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing.” The Loyola College of Business embraces this teaching/learning philosophy on a daily basis, providing both undergraduate and graduate students with opportunities to put into practice what they have learned in the classroom. One such opportunity came about when South Coast Angel Fund Managing Director and Loyola graduate Clayton White ’78, M.B.A. ’93, J.D. ’07 approached the CoB with an idea: provide Loyola MBAs the chance to work with an angel fund, applying their textbook learning to real-life investing. The result: the MBA Entrepreneurial Consulting course created by CoB Professor Brett Matherne, Ph.D.

Angel funds are comprised of individuals (angel investors) who provide capital for business start-ups, usually in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity. The term “angel” to describe investors originally comes from Broadway where it was used to depict wealthy individuals who provided money for theatrical productions. South Coast Angel Fund, L.L.C., is a member-managed angel capital fund designed to utilize the capital, resources, and expertise of its members and the unique partnership with Loyola University to help launch and grow early stage companies, primarily within Louisiana and the Gulf Coast community. According to their website (www.southcoastangelfund.com), “While return on investment is absolutely the primary goal for South Coast Angels, the group also recognizes the value of supporting the entrepreneurial community for the economic benefit of the entire region. Through initiatives including informative seminars, mentoring start-up companies and early stage capital, South Coast strives to support the entrepreneurial and business environment in Louisiana and the greater Gulf Coast community.” Partners with South Coast include the Louisiana Technology Council, Simmons and White, L.L.C., and Loyola University.

The graduate students in the entrepreneurial course participated in all aspects of South Coast Angel Fund’s investment process and performed the due diligence review for prospective investments that advance through South Coast’s investment process.

“Our students have consistently stepped up to the plate and delivered,” Matherne says. “This unique opportunity drives our students to deliver consulting beyond any course requirement because South Coast relies upon their findings when investing their own money. That kind of analytical skill with ‘skin in the game’ experience is exactly what future employers are looking for.”

When reflecting upon the partnership with Loyola’s MBA program, Clayton White emphasized, “Without the partnership with Loyola and their engaged students, we could not have reviewed as many businesses nor performed the amount of due diligence review required to make an investment in the same timeframe.”

In March of this year, the students watched as months of research transformed into reality as South Coast Angel Fund announced their first investment, made with Omnicademy, L.L.C., a social networking platform that enables universities and colleges to syndicate their courses to one another, enabling institutions to benefit from economies of scale in higher education, while providing an easy to use interface and tools for faculty and students. South Coast will have two seats on Omnicademy’s executive board as part of the investment. The technology developed by Omnicademy allows colleges and universities to offer a variety of curriculum to students at other educational partners in a virtual setting. By offering these virtual classes, broadcast over the Internet, it allows universities to offer more courses and generate more tuition dollars while decreasing overhead costs.

The real life investment experience in the MBA program’s Entrepreneurial Consulting course offered students a unique opportunity to play a part in the investment exploration process. Loyola University is committed to helping the entrepreneurial community through partnerships that connect students with entrepreneurial efforts.

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