Where Tech Coast Angels Tread, And Why

12/24/08Follow @xconomy

Jack Florio fits the casting profile of the kind of guy Hollywood might see as an angel investor. He has 30 years experience in the pharmaceutical business, much of it in management jobs at pharma giant Eli Lilly. He’s got the experience to offer advice to a younger entrepreneur, and the Rolodex to make key introductions with old pals in Big Pharma. He even looks the part of an energetic elder statesman, like a less-tanned version of actor George Hamilton.

I had an interesting talk with Florio, the vice president of marketing and communications for Tech Coast Angels, on my trip to San Diego a few weeks ago. This is a follow-up to the story Bruce wrote in October, based on an interview with the angel group’s president, Michael Elconin. One recent investment from the group in San Diego-based MicroPower Appliance caught our eye. It’s aiming to to develop a battery-powered Wi-Fi video camera.

At a Starbucks at the University Towne Centre mall on La Jolla Village Dr., I asked Florio what the angels get out of doing this sort of thing. The group has put more than $100 million to work in a variety of 150 different startups across a broad range of technology and life sciences ideas. The angels have a variety of motives. They want to put their experience to work, but not necessarily in the everyday pressure-cooker of running a company. They want to stay mentally engaged with a variety of interesting concepts. They want to meet some of the brightest, hungriest young entrepreneurs around. They want to keep their valuable contacts in industry fresh. They want to get in on the ground floor of promising investments too, but Florio made that sound kind of like gravy.

“We don’t want people to come to Tech Coast Angels if you just want money,” Florio says. “We have an interest in getting involved with companies.”

Each member of the Tech Coast Angels is asked … Next Page »

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