Monday March 28, 2011

Hands-on Investing

Undergraduate entrepreneurship majors became venture capital investors with the first investment by Flyer Angels.

Flyer Angels, the new venture investment group managed by University of Dayton entrepreneurship majors and endowed by an alumnus, has made its first investment in a rising young company.

Flyer Angels has invested $35,000 in Commuter Advertising, the winner of the University of Dayton 2010 Business Plan Competition. Commuter Advertising creates audio ads for public transit vehicles keyed to specific locations through GPS technology, sharing ad revenue with the transit systems. The company launched the concept with the Greater Dayton RTA. 

"We are huge fans of Commuter Advertising — it's just amazing to see how far this company, which is based in Dayton and continues to hire our graduates, has come in such a short period of time," said Dean McFarlin, chair of the University's management and marketing department.

"Winning our Business Plan Competition in 2010 was instrumental in helping Commuter Advertising land a coveted finalist slot in the by-invitation-only Draper Fisher Jurvetson-Cisco Systems Global Business Plan Competition," McFarlin said. "That led Draper Triangle Ventures to make a recent investment in Commuter Advertising." 

Morgan Metz, a senior finance and entrepreneurship major served on a Flyer Angels due diligence committee that assessed the potential of the company.

"We looked at their financials, sales and marketing outlook and their business plan," Metz said. "It was an incredible hands-on learning experience to apply what we've learned in our entrepreneurship courses to a real company."
 
"I now know what it's like to sit on an investment committee and make a decision to commit capital to an organization to see if they can grow bigger and better," Metz said. "Not a lot of undergraduates can say that."

Commuter Advertising founders Katie Hill and Russ Gottesman see benefit in expanding the current relationship.

Gottesman said, "Commuter Advertising values our relationship with the University of Dayton for not only believing in our business model, but connecting us to business and thought leaders throughout the community." Hill added, "We have consistently hired University of Dayton students and look forward to building on this special relationship as we continue to grow."

McFarlin said through the University's connections with Draper Triangle Ventures, the current round of venture investment funding for Commuter Advertising will total more than $1 million. 

"Commuter Advertising is now on a path to rapid expansion and job creation with this significant round of investment," McFarlin said. "Flyer Angels are pleased to be part of the investment team for such a promising company."

Flyer Angels was endowed with a $1 million contribution from Ron McDaniel, a 1969 University of Dayton alumnus from Chicago.

Flyer Angels collaborates with a local angel organization to evaluate new venture business plans for possible investment, McFarlin said. Angel investors are individuals or groups who provide funding for fledgling companies, usually in exchange for a stake in the company.

"The entrepreneurship majors in Flyer Angels performed due diligence on several companies last semester and decided to make the investment in Commuter Advertising," McFarlin said. "Naturally, we provided guidance, but our students did an absolutely thorough job investigating Commuter Advertising and actually made the call to invest. I'm very proud of them."

For more information contact Dean McFarlin at 937-229-4928 or mcfarlin@udayton.edu.