By guest authors Irina Patterson and Candice Arnold
This is the second interview in my series of interviews with angel investors and angel groups. This time I talked to Robert (Bob) Aholt, a vice chairman of the Pasadena Angels based out of Los Angeles.
Irina: Hi Bob, tell us briefly about your personal background and about your group. Let’s start with your personal background.
Bob: I’m the vice chairman of the Pasadena Angels, the angel investing group that I do most of my personal investing through right now. I come out of a background around technology, biosciences, and life sciences. I originally had a consulting firm here in Los Angeles that focused on technology consulting and strategies. The company was called Systems Development. I was fortunate enough to be able to sell that back in the early 2000s. Then I moved to a company called Phase III Medical, which was a publicly traded company in New York, and I was the chief operating officer of that company. Phase III focused on providing capital to biotechnology and life sciences companies by investing in a revenue stream or royalty agreement that a company might already have.
That company ended up merging with another company called Neostem, which banks adult stem cells. And while I was one of the largest shareholders at one point in time, I was able to facilitate the merger, and then as that kind of developed and matured, we brought in some people who were probably more adept at managing a true science and medical company, and I backed out. And that’s when I started focusing more and more on angel investing. And here I sit.
Irina: And when were the Pasadena Angels formed?
Bob: Back in 2000.
Irina: Can you tell us briefly about the group?
Bob: Right now we have about 100 members. We’ve been doing this for about 10 years. We’ve invested in just over 60 companies. The last time we counted, we had a little bit over $22 million of investments of our own direct capital. And if you add on follow-on rounds and additional rounds invested by private equity and venture capitalists, our funded companies have, I think, about $200 million in capital through the Pasadena Angels and subsequent rounds.
Irina: Do you have any particular industry expertise or focus on any industry?
Bob: Originally, we were focused solely on technology. But over the past several years we’ve moved out a little bit into biotechnology and life sciences. We’ll do other things that make sense. Because we do have 100 members, we cover a lot of territory and a lot of ground with people who are experts in marketing and people who are doctors and others who are PhDs in chemistry and marketing and technology people. So we do have a lot of expertise, and that’s really helpful for an investor like me. So, while we focus on technology, we’re pretty opportunistic and we’ll view almost any opportunity. And while we may not invest in it, we certainly will take a look.
Irina: But you are a regional group, right?
Bob: Our two mantras are that we like to focus on technology and we do tend to limit our focus to Southern California. We have done deals outside of the area, but they are extremely rare. It has to be an extremely compelling conversation or value proposition, and some other times, it’s brought to us by internal members who have some link to an external group and that may get some traction.
Irina: Is there anything else very specific about your group?
Bob: No. You know, I don’t have a lot of experience with other angel groups. There are a couple of other groups here in Los Angeles . . . Tech Coast Angels is the primary one. They have five different chapters, and we function a lot like them. We actually tend to do a lot of deals together. If they get a deal they need extra capital for, or vice versa, if we have a deal that we need to close on, we’ll go to the two groups. We have similar profits and similar term sheets and outlooks, so I don’t think that there’s anything else unique about the Pasadena Angels.