Flyer Angels may sound like a World War II-era bomber squadron . . . It isn't.
It is the name of a venture investment group managed by a group of University of Dayton undergraduates and endowed by an alumnus.
The new program, launched with a $1-million gift from 1969 alumnus Ron McDaniel, has helped to make the school's entrepreneurship program one of the best in the country. As part of Flyer Angels, about 200 students receive hands-on experience in due diligence, in finding and securing sources of capital, and even decide which business plans to bankroll and which to walk away from.
In March, Flyer Angels made its first investment: Commuter Advertising, winner of the school's 2010 Business Plan Competition. Commuter Advertising is a high-tech startup that sells ads on board public transportation. The company received $35,000 from the university, after students vetted its business plan.
"So far we've made six investments, most of them through our collaboration with Ohio TechAngels," says Dean McFarlin, chairman of the university's management and marketing department. "We're looking at a number of companies for possible investment right now. Some of them are through our own sources, and others through our collaboration with OTA."
McFarlin says all of the companies under consideration are technology-based.
"The main motivation for us is education. Making money and getting a great return is secondary. There are very few undergrad students in the country who can say they were doing private investing or angel-equity types of deals, and making decisions and doing due diligence as undergraduates."
Source: Dean McFarlin, University of Dayton
Writer: Patrick G. Mahoney