Thursday, January 3, 2008

Central Texas Angel Network – 2007 A Year in Review

The Central Texas Angel Network is now just over 18 months into operations. As the year comes to a close, we take a look back at 2007. We grew membership from 28 members t0 50 and since inception invested over $3.6M in fourteen deals. The membership represents the diversity of the central Texas economy including angels from the film/video/media industry as well as software, wireless, internet, medical device, biotech, healthcare, and more.

CTAN held four rounds of Screening/Education/Presentation meetings this year. Dealflow remains strong with 30+ deals submitted each quarter to the CTAN website. In addition to our regularly scheduled meetings we held joint funding events with the Acton School of Business, TIE Austin, and the Austin Technology Incubator in the form of the Wireless Funding Forum.

In addition to increasing membership and dealflow, CTAN also saw increased public exposure with articles in the Austin American-Statesman, the Austin Business Journal and a growing relationship with the Business District Magazine. CTAN gave numerous speeches and panels throughout the year promoting angel investing in general and CTAN in particular.

Angel Education was a high priority for the group this year. CTAN held five angel education sessions focusing on topics such as valuation, due diligence, financial due diligence, angel/entrepreneur interaction, and planning for successful M&A exits. In addition, CTAN participated in a Mock Terms Sheet session ran by Andrews/Kurth in which angel investors negotiated a mock terms sheet with entrepreneurs from the Austin Technology Incubator.

CTAN continues to work closely with the Houston Angel Network to syndicate deals. Several other groups throughout the state are in the formation stages with whom we plan to syndicate deals in the coming days.

It was a great year and now looking forward to 2008.

Best regards,
Hall T.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Larry Upton’s Edioma Brings Language Education to the Mobile Phone

Larry Upton originally from Mississippi lived all over the world as his father was a serial entrepreneur and came to Austin about five years ago in which he started work at MessageOne to develop their Latin America infrastructure. He left and about a year ago he launched Edioma which provides language translation education over the mobile phone. Idioma in Spanish means “language”. They transposed the “I” to an “E” and had their company name. They currently offer Spanish but plan to expand into Mandarin and Hindi languages in the future.

A linguist by education he got involved in IT development. He noticed that students today learn by digital media not traditional means. A few years ago he contracted some help to do some stonework at his house. In the process, he noticed that some of the workers didn’t speak English well, and that everyone had a cell phone. Over seventy percent of the workers don’t have access to the internet. From that experience came the concept of providing education over the mobile phone. Follow on market research indicates that over 90% of the respondents in a survey were interested in learning better English, and nearly half were willing to pay (up to $21 per month) in order to do so. They have about 30,000 downloads (in about 5 weeks) from their first partner, called Movida which is a Sprint company selling prepaid phone cards through Walmart.

The language education focuses on practical phrases categorized by various situations: banking, traveling, shopping, etc. It’s a J2ME application which lets the user select a text phrase, and then by clicking on it, it gives the translation in words and also a voice speaking over the phone. If the user can’t pronounce it, they just show the phrase on the phone to who they are talking to.

Over the next six months Larry and his team are proving out the business model. There are 40 million people in America that rely on Spanish as their primary language and 400 million in Latin America so the market is large and growing. He plans to roll out games to provide education as well.

Best regards,
Hall T.