Gopher Angels Backs More MN Tech Startups, Names New Leader, And Supports Student Fund


Gopher Angels reveals more Minnesota tech investments, has appointed a new Managing Director, and is supporting a student-led fund.

Throughout the second half of this year, Gopher Angels backed the following local tech ventures: Equals3, OppSource, Structural, Kidizen (follow on), Ambient Clinical Analytics, and CoreBiome.

This activity pushes their portfolio to 36 unique investees and Managing Director David Russick estimates between 40-50% of those are Minnesota tech ventures.

Gopher Angels is not a fund per se, but an ‘angel network’ that was formed in 2011 by husband and wife team David and Sara Russick to fill a need while capitalizing on opportunity.

As previous membership oriented models have faded away over the years, due to inactivity and/or poor reputation, Gopher Angels has scaled under the Russick’s leadership.

For a sense of how far they’ve come, travel back in time to Gopher Angels ground zero.

Today, their 75+ members have invested just over $13m combined, a figure that naturally everyone, including the Russick’s, want to see grow in the years to come.

To lead Gopher Angels to the next level they’ve recruited Greg Syrup from Fargo North Dakota as the new Managing Director to replace themselves mid-2018.

Syrup was formerly of the student-led Dakota Venture Group in Grand Forks, as well as Fargo-based angel fund 701.

“Greg has proven investment experience and working knowledge of Gopher Angels,” Russick says about it. “I think it will be a smooth transition and a big benefit to Gopher Angels to have Greg for the future.”

As previous entrepreneurs turned investors, the Russick’s are not certain about what is next in their own professional pursuits.  “We’re looking,” he says, indicating that their not quite done doing what they do.

In a third major revelation, a group of eight undergraduate students at the University of Minnesota have banded together to form “Atland Fund” — a privately financed student-led fund supported by Gopher Angels and the University.

In addition to taking a ‘new ventures’ class taught by Russick and Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship Program Director John Stavig, “These students attend our Gopher Angels meetings and participate in due diligence in any of the companies of interest to them.”

The students behind Atland Fund are financially backed by an anonymous benefactor (not Gopher Angels or the University of Minnesota) who is giving them real cash and autonomy to learn and invest on their own; they have not made any deals to date.


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