Sat | Dec 3, 2016

First Angels to limit non-disclosures to fundable projects

Published:Friday | April 24, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Sandra Glasgow, administrator of the First Angels Jamaica (FAJ) network, indicated Wednesday that entrepreneurs who apply for funding won't have the immediate protection of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).

That will come later at the stage where term sheets are being finalised and signed, once FAJ's angel investors agree to finance a successful business pitch, Glasgow said at the launch of FAJ on Wednesday.

It was disclosed at that event that a second Jamaican angel investor network - Alpha Angels - is being established in Montego Bay. The nascent network is chaired by business process outsourcing entrepreneur Yoni Epstein and is due for launch soon, Glasgow said.

First Angels Jamaica is a new Jamaican angel investor network, supported by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the World Bank Group.

Wednesday's launch of the FAJ network showcased the group's first investment in a Jamaican business - an offering of expanded services by DRT Communications, which is headed by 35-year-old CEO Danielle Terrelonge.

Terrelonge says her seven-year-old company is targeting Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados for value-added services.

The company will maintain one office in Jamaica, but will make use of technology and business partners in each island for the roll out of services, with "lots of travel" to be done in between islands, Terrelonge said.

She told the Financial Gleaner that she was not allowed to disclose the amount invested nor the names of her angel backers, but said that six FAJ members had come together to make the investment which was a "very significant amount".

NDAs are used by negotiating parties to protect ideas from unauthorised use. But failure to sign, Glasgow said, should not be interpreted to mean that Jamaicans who come forward with their project ideas might run the risk of being pirated.

Glasgow says the decision regarding when NDAs would kick in was based on the sheer volume of applications received and the legal and administrative work which might be attached. In the last week alone, she said, some 30 applications for funding had come in to FAJ.

"Ideas are a dime a dozen, it's the execution that matters," she commented in a follow-up discussion after the formal launch of FAJ.

FAJ Chairman Joseph M. Matalon said at the event that Jamaicans who have long backed other entrepreneurs, informally, should now tap into angel networks, which provide training in dealmaking and access to screened projects.

Angel investors are a sizable source of start-up funding globally, and often this money is fed to smaller projects which banks and even venture capital investors might not think worth funding, Matalon said.

Glasgow said at the FAJ launch that while some 30 applicants have registered online, many are lacking the project details which are needed for the start of the FAJ due diligence process.

For its start-up, FAJ received a grant from the Xcala Programme, which is funded by the Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank, that supports the development of angel investment networks through Latin America and the Caribbean.

This will help with the costs of managing the FAJ network, including recruiting and training new members, marketing, planning and organising pitch events, training entrepreneurs to develop winning pitch decks and participation of FAJ members in international conferences and learning events, Glasgow said.

FAJ currently includes 13 investor members; and two associate members - KPMG and Hart Muirhead Fatta.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com