Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Two more firms get First Angels backing

Published:Friday | September 11, 2015 | 9:00 AM
Sandra Glasgow, founding member and manager of the First Angels Jamaica network.

First Angels Jamaica has selected another two companies for funding, both of whom were to be fÍted last night at cocktails.

Billodex Limited and Turner Innovations Limited now make it three companies tapped for the financing by the angel investor group, the first being DRT Communications.

First Angels is a network of Jamaican businesses and investors who have banded together with other financiers to form the first home-grown angel investor group to back the start-up ventures of aspiring local entrepreneurs.

The network now has 22 members, of which 17 are individual investors and five are 'associates'. The associate members are organisations that provide services to portfolio companies and may or may not invest in them as part of the network. Of the 17 investor members, five are women.

Sandra Glasgow, managing director of BizTactics Limited and co-founder of First Angels, said Tuesday that the network would not disclose the level of investment in the companies nor the specific investors. That type of information is barred under a confidentiality clause in the shareholder agreements between the parties, she said.

Glasgow told the Financial Gleaner, however, that seven investors have poured funds into Billodex Limited, a company run by D'AndrÈ Fraser, Aundhrae Richardson and Sandra Fenton-Fraser, who pitched their idea to First Angels back in January 2015.

The angels network has operated for more than a year since June 2014 but its first pick for investment, the Danielle Terrelonge-Irons-led DRT, was made in April of this year. To date, the group has hosted six business pitch events.

Billodex has created an 'm-commerce' application that allows users to purchase tickets for events and send the tickets to their contacts via their smartphones.

"The application will take advantage of becoming the first mobile ticket payment application of its kind in the Caribbean that will allow for the purchasing of any form of tickets," First Angels said in background information provided to the Financial Gleaner.

Billodex's first version will provide mobile ticketing for events and parties.

Five angel investors have poured funds into Turner Innovations, a company run by directors Oral and Allison Turner, who pitched to First Angels in May 2015.

The Turners are inventors of the patent-pending sorrel harvesting machine, the first of its kind in the world to facilitate the mechanical stripping of red calyx from the sorrel plant - material that is notoriously difficult to remove.

This invention "will improve the lives of farmers and agricultural producers, and increase the production capacity and output of sorrel, a plant known for its medicinal value," said First Angels.

Glasgow said the group would host a seventh pitch event today, September 11, featuring Culture Guru Inc led by Jonny Mack, a Trinidadian who resides in Hawaii.

Mack has developed streaming technology that will allow a user to live stream from their cellphones to any platform, while his company, Culture Guru, delivers event marketing tools and analytics to promoters, venues and artists.

Glasgow disclosed that up to August 31, First Angels had received 127 applications via its website - firstangelsja.com - 44 of which are ready for review.

First Angels Jamaica was initially formulated by Jamaicans Joseph M. Matalon and Glasgow and American John 'JJ' Geewax as founding members.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com