Published on April 14, 2014 by Kara Kennedy  

Samford University’s Brock School of Business recently joined the Central Alabama Angel Network (CAAN), a Birmingham-based investor network that invests in early- stage companies.

Angel investors are wealthy individuals and institutions, who provide money to new companies, usually in exchange for company stock. According to the University of New Hampshire’s Center for Venture Research, angel investors in the United States provided $9.7 billion in funding to more than 28,000 startups during the first half of 2013. These investments have helped create 111,500 jobs.

“This membership will provide our students with opportunities to witness first-hand how entrepreneurs raise equity financing soon after starting their new companies,” said Rusty Yerkes, assistant professor of finance at the Brock School of Business.

“Angels must be ‘accredited investors,’ with $1 million net worth or annual household incomes above $300,000, and because of our CAAN membership, our students now have access to see how this important funding source works.”

With the Brock School’s membership, students will be able to attend CAAN’s monthly meetings to see how entrepreneurs pitch their businesses to investors and how CAAN reviews its current investments. According to its website, CAAN’s average investment ranges from $250,000 to $2 million per company.

"We are excited about Samford’s Brock School of Business joining CAAN,“ said Jennifer Skjellum, executive director of CAAN.“ Getting students involved and educated about the capital raising process early on will make them better prepared when they start their own businesses."

“Joining CAAN provides our students another great way to be involved in Birmingham’s entrepreneurship ecosystem,” said Franz Lohrke, Brock Family Chair of Entrepreneurship at the Brock School. “Our long term goal is to put together a fund that will allow our entrepreneurship and finance students to make investments in these new companies. We have had tremendous success with our student ‘Bulldog Fund,’ which invests in public companies, and we hope we can replicate this success soon with a ‘Brock School Angel Fund.’

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 37th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 97th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,758 students from 48 states and 22 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 3rd nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.