AngelMD Aims to Harness Houston Physician Braintrust for Investments

Houston—In the last few years, Houston’s biotech community has made big strides in assembling the ingredients needed to build a robust innovation ecosystem. But one factor, capital, remains in short supply, says Dan Parsley of angelMD.

That’s partly why the Seattle-based investment platform opened a Houston office last September. The idea is to help bridge the gap between healthcare-related ideas and the money those concepts need to become devices and medicines that can improve health. Parsley, a native Houstonian and longtime executive in the city, opened angelMD’s Houston office at the Texas Medical Center’s Innovation Institute last fall.

He says he has mostly spent his time so far focusing on physician investors: individuals who are already familiar with the healthcare problems at hand, who might be willing to contribute funding to experimental technologies to solve them.

“It’s going to take a while to turn older Houston families, who have traditionally always invested in energy and real estate,” says Parsley, who is angelMD’s senior vice president of corporate development. “Over time, I’ve been able to invite a lot of these family offices and high net-worth individuals [to the startup scene] and expose them to what’s going on here.”

Parsley says he believes that as these investors become more comfortable with the promise of health-related investments, they will supplement angelMD’s core base of physician-investors in Texas.

AngelMD was founded by Tobin Arthur four years ago with a seemingly straightforward proposition to physicians: Invest in what you know.

Investors on angelMD’s network are presented with company profiles each month but they may also browse through the list of startups looking for investment. In addition to money, Parsley says physician-investors also tend to provide advice and strategic introductions.

It’s the latter that gives angelMD a particular strength when it comes to biotech investing, he contends. Other venture groups “may have a handful that are advisors, but we have thousands of advisors,” he says. “They are not shy; they provide unique advice, with up-to-the-minute trends and perspectives.”

Today, angelMD has 4,200 members—half are physicians in 35 specialties—in 48 states and 20 countries that can invest in a portfolio of 850 startups. Parsley says angelMD has completed 14 syndicates that have invested in 11 companies (some startups had multiple … Next Page »

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Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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