The Deal
Friday, October 24, 
11:27 pm

[Posted on October 26, 2007 - 4:02 PM]

Internet matchmaking services designed to bring entrepreneurs and angels together rarely work out. Which is what makes Space Angels Network LLC even more ambitious than most such efforts.
The online network, which
blasted off on Thursday, is aimed at linking seed- and early-stage investors with entrepreneurs focused on space exploration and interstellar travel. The group's founders are Guillermo Söhnlein, who also founded an outfit called the International Association of Space Entrepreneurs and another angel network focused on China, and Burton Lee, co-founder of Spaceport America (the nation's "first commercial spaceport") and a managing partner of Innovarium Ventures, a consultancy advising startups.

Söhnlein says that so far Space Angels has one member investor and five deals in its database. The goal is to have five deals by the end of the year, with a target of adding five funding opportunities a month through 2008. By the end of next year, Söhnlein hopes Space Angels will have 25 investors and will have completed one deal.

The virtual format can be a challenge, but Söhnlein says he and Lee will travel extensively and work behind the scenes to connect investors and entrepreneurs. "Our members and entrepreneurs are spread out," Söhnlein says. "The big downfall is you can too easily believe it can be a pure online platform, but we realize that we're going to have to play an active role on the back-end to help."

If it takes off, the network is unlikely to lead to fundings for big-ticket space technology, such as rockets, but it could help seed startups focused on related domains, such as unmanned vehicles, aerospace software and life support. The network will try to syndicate deals for early-stage companies ranging from $250,000 to $2.5 million. If they succeed, Space Angels will boldly go where few other matchmaking services have gone before. - Stacey Higginbotham

See Oct. 25 press release from Space Angels

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