Sheltowee Business Network Blog

Why SBN and ACG Are Forming an Alliance Now?

Why SBN and ACG Are Forming an Alliance Now?

Aug 02 2019

Why SBN and ACG Are Forming an Alliance Now

By Dawn Yankeelov

The Louisville-based Sheltowee Business Network (SBN) with its four active nodes, and The Angel Capital Group (ACG) with its 10 angel capital chapters headquartered in Knoxville, TN, have formed an alliance. Together the two organizations intend to assist in building the entrepreneurial ecosystems outside Silicon Valley, Boston and New York in very specific pathways for angels and startups. 

“The first priority is to raise operational capital opening the Sheltowee Venture Fund for investments in area startups,” explained Eric Dobson, CEO of ACG.  His organization has both a for-profit and a not-for-profit arm that also accepts grant funding, including the Appalachian Investors Alliance (AIA). His organization has about 200 active investors over 10 states--Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia.  The investors of ACG have four documented 10x-multiple exits with investments over all in 147 companies, including Facebook over the last 11 years. 


Currently SBN has four launched nodes (also known as chapters), which include Louisville, KY; Lexington, KY; Evansville, IN and Cincinnati, OH.  The network is open to all angel investors, mentors, entrepreneurs, experts and explorers via a membership value proposition that includes regular meetups, training and a venture fund application process.

With SBN, the ACG network hopes to:

  • Develop an IP approach that addresses how to attract and educate active angel investors, which means new investor recruitment
  • Use its 12+ years of experience to assist in pre-seed through Series B for follow-on capital
  • Complete on the first SBN $20 Million Venture Fund so that investments are made this year in area startups via SBN membership participation and training
  • Identify cross-fertilization opportunities and a hands-on inventory approach to assets and people of both networks

“The Silicon Valley model does not work for the flyover states,” he added.  “We don’t have the density of capital, and so we are centered on deal flow, meaning syndication.  In the Midwest, we have to be more active investors.  Spray and pray does not work here,” he concluded.  He indicated that Louisville and other cities in the Midwest cannot be looking to the Valley for coastal influences.  “Trends also happen here,” he added.

The final piece of the puzzle that Sheltowee Business Network brings to ACG will be its Business-In-A-Box training, online learning in a learning management system for all members of the network.

“Investors are the catalyst for change, and you have to institutionalize that process, then connect the dots,” said Dobson.

By working together ACG and SBN hope to achieve synergies that would not be realized by operating independently.  It is the hope of both  organizations that these efforts will improve conditions for entrepreneurs and investors alike.