When Joshua Siegel (GRD ’00) and Andrew Romans (GRD ’01) first met as students of Georgetown’s Masters in Business Administration program, they realized that, unlike those at many peer universities, Georgetown alumni were not investing in startup companies.

Last summer, Siegel and Romans began discussing plans to fill that void and officially launched Georgetown Alumni Angels Oct. 1, which will give alumni a chance to pool resources to invest in promising startups.

“We felt that because Georgetown is such a large and well-known community, it really needed its own group,” Siegel said. “It wasn’t something that the school could put together on a rapid basis. We decided that we could put it together quickly, effectively [and] efficiently.”

“The Georgetown alumni community is quite powerful and amazing, and so we want to harness that,” Romans added.

According to Romans, angel investing — when an individual or group of investors provide financial support for small startups and entrepreneurs — has grown in importance since the recent financial crisis, which caused venture capital firms to decrease investments in startups worldwide.

The investment group will pay particular attention to those startups that have a connection with the university, although its resources will not be limited to Georgetown companies.

“If someone goes to Georgetown and has a great company and we like it, then we want to fund it,” Romans said. “These guys should be able to get funding.”

Siegel said the start-ups with a Georgetown link would receive particular consideration. “For Georgetown deals … we will go the extra mile,” Siegel said. “We will always speak to the entrepreneur … so that we can look at their deal and try to refine it.”

According to Romans and Siegel, the group has already received proposals from alumni entrepreneurs in Germany, Turkey, Spain and Israel.

“We will evaluate each and every deal that comes to us, but we reject 99 percent of people that come to us on the entrepreneurial side,” Siegel said.

After examining such factors as a company’s financials and management team, Siegel and Romans will decide whether a company warrants funding. The few companies selected will be able to make a brief presentation to GAA investors — who are all either Georgetown alumni or affiliated with the university — and then network directly with the investors.

“It’s a little bit like speed dating,” Romans said. “When you meet somebody, you can decide within the first 30 seconds if you think that she or he is totally crazy and there’s no way you’d ever invest in that company.”

Siegel said GAA receives about five proposals a day, 90 percent of which he estimated have some relation to Georgetown.

GAA plans to hold networking events several times a year, the first of which is set for early March in New York City. Siegel said seven companies have been chosen to present at the event, six of which have a Georgetown connection. Though GAA cannot yet disclose their identity, the group includes startups involved in mobile payments, entertainment and mobile advertising.

GAA plans to invest between $250,000 and $750,000 in the selected startups. The group will support the selected companies for about two years, at which time it will refer the entrepreneurs to venture capital firms.

“In order for a startup to be successful, it needs more than just cash. It needs connections, and it needs guidance,” Romans said. “Part of what we’re doing is harnessing the Georgetown alumni community to make these companies successful.”

According to Siegel, one of the top priorities for the GAA is acquiring more professors and industry experts to serve as mentors for the entrepreneurs.

“Part of what should be appealing about going to Georgetown is that [students] know that there’s this powerful group of alumni that are organized and are able to review a deal, invest in the best ones and make them successful,” Romans said.

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