JULY 6, 2017   |   VIEW AS WEBPAGE
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FIN Capital
Megan Milligan, president of Iowa Center for Economic Success, Burch LaPrade, CEO of East Village’s Gain Compliance, which was FIN's first investment, and Heidi Wessels, director of FIN Capital Women’s Angel Investor Network, are testing the waters for female angel investors.

FIN Capital Takes a New Approach to Angel Investing 

Men and women approach life differently, so why not business? Why not investing? That’s what the women of FIN Capital are putting to the test with Iowa’s first female-only venture capital organization.

FIN has just made an initial investment — a $109,000 stake in a Des Moines firm that is developing software for the insurance industry. Other potential deals await.

FIN Capital is an angel investor. “Angels” can be people or firms that provide development money to startup and young companies. Companies like Facebook and AirBnB got initial lifts from angels.

Angels have long operated across the land, including in Iowa. FIN, which stands for Female Investor Network, got its start in 2016 after encouragement from then-Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Debbie Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority. The state offered some startup funding to defray overhead, and the Iowa Center for Economic Success, in Clive, was enlisted as its facilitator.

Originally, eight women joined. [The eight included Connie Wimer and Janette Larkin, the chairman and president, respectively, of Business Publications Corporation Inc., which publishes the Business Record and dsm magazine.] The roster grew to 28, and Megan Milligan, president of the Iowa Center for Economic Success, said it wishes to eventually number 50. One of those founders was Rita Perea, a Des Moines business consultant.

Several aspects of FIN prompted Perea to sign up. For starters, she said she is a huge proponent of women in leadership. And women have a good perspective on business that, while it may differ from that of men, is just as valid.

“We bring a certain level of intuition to the table,” she said. Women are good at collaborating, she added, which is helpful as a group makes the choice of which company to invest in.

Perea said she was interested to see whether she could make some money with FIN. That’s not a given. Angel investors are told they need to diversify with an average of nine or 10 investments to be successful.

Any angel investor should be knowledgeable about risks of the business world. Federal rules dictate that investors must be accredited. That means you’ll have a net worth of at least $1 million or two years of annual income of $200,000, or $300,000 with a spouse.

Once you clear that hurdle, you and the group will meet monthly. There will be discussion of investing methodology, chatter about deals that are floating around, and maybe a pitch from an entrepreneur.

Perea said angels want to hear a business plan, revenue projections and an exit plan. (Sorry, startups, they eventually want their money back.) Members vote up or down on each pitch. If accepted, a deal goes to a team of members who conduct a due diligence review — a deep dive on the proposal and how it will make money building that proverbial better mouse trap.

The first pitch to FIN that made it through to success came from Gain Compliance. The East Village firm has designed software that streamlines how insurers file regulatory paperwork in states where they do business. In a town that thrives on insurance, this might be a good idea.

Burch La Prade, CEO of Gain, has worked with venture capitalists before on other startups and turnarounds.

“It was a really interesting dynamic,” he said of working with FIN. A chief difference, he said, was its team approach to due diligence.

And while angel investors typically will work only with one theme, such as agribusiness or biotech, FIN is not structured that way, said Milligan. It will work with different industries. And as LaPrade discovered, it will reach out to men, as well, to find worthy ventures.
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Legacy Bridge

Insurance Commissioner
Insurance Commissioner Warns Of Investment Scams 

Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen has been meeting with people all over the state to warn them of the evils of consumer investment scams such as oil and gas drilling programs, gold and precious metals buy-ins, self-directed IRAs, and high-yield investment products. Seniors are especially vulnerable, since they (A.) answer the phone, and (B.) have money to be taken.

Some of these hustles involve serious money. Promissory notes are especially useful in this regard, and Ommen used as an illustration one Randall A. Finer of Lake Mills. In 2015 he was ordered by then-commissioner Nick Gerhart to pay $614,000 to 24 people he allegedly had issued promissory notes for a "guaranteed" 20 percent return on day trading he was engaged in. Most promissory notes are securities, which means both they and the person selling them must be registered with state or federal authorities. That was not the case with Finer, according to the state.

Authorities say it's OK to hang up the phone or slam the door on people you don't know. They urge you to call the Insurance Division, 877-955-1212, to check on a registration. Or call the Iowa attorney general's office, at 515-281-5164. Don't call Mr. Finer. He currently is charged criminally in Winnebago County with operating a Ponzi scheme that bilked people out of $800,000.
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Whitfield & Eddy Law
801 Chophouse

Big Savings in Flying
Big Savings In Flying To Europe From Canada

Greetings from Montreal. I'm sitting in the British Airways lounge waiting to board a flight to London,then on to Portugal for a business meeting. Montreal and Toronto are currently way better bargains than Chicago or New York to snare a business-class fare that won't bust your company's travel budget.

Even U.S. carriers that will pick you up in Canada and route you through the United States and onward to Europe will charge less than if from a U.S. starting point.

Cases in point for a business-class journey dated July 23-28: Des Moines or Chicago to London, $7,980 or $7,875, respectively. Toronto or Montreal on Air Canada will cost you $3,067.

This works going the other way, too. Des Moines to Tokyo Narita will cost $6,692. From Toronto — $2,301. And that's nonstop.

Of course, you'll also have a separate fare from Des Moines to Canada. But even with that add-on, you or your company will come out ahead. And isn't it nice to deplane from a 10-hour journey rested from a lie-flat bed rather than crammed into economy?
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United Way

dsmWealth's picks on what you need to know

  • Eager to learn more about women and philanthropy? This new study reveals differences in giving.

  • From living in a car to investing long term, read an interview of "Gilmore Girls" television actor Scott Patterson by Diana Britton to learn his secrets to managing wealth on a sporadic income.

  • Have you ever traveled to a wellness resort? Faced with rising health care costs, many baby boomers have adopted healthier habits, and they don’t want to abandon them when they go on vacation, says Anne Dimon, founder of Travel to Wellness in this article from Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.


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