Becoming an Angel Investor

Becoming an Angel Investor

My wife and I chose beautiful Coastal Georgia as the place to call home almost 20 years ago. We were moving from London, and while we recognized how wonderfully friendly most people are in this part of the world, we initially had no family, friends or business contacts in Greater Savannah … just a desire to meet people, get involved in the community, and establish some roots.

Today, those roots run deep. My wife’s business is well-established; we sit on several nonprofit boards; much of our family followed our decision to move to Coastal Georgia, and our grandkids were born here. As for me, early on I got involved in something that has become a hobby, an investment opportunity, and a great way to meet other entrepreneurs and businesspeople.  I joined Ariel Savannah Angel Partners (ASAP) and became an angel investor.

What is angel investing? In short, angel investors (usually called just “angels”) offer funding to promising startup companies in exchange for some early equity in the business. Angels usually get involved with young companies after they raise their initial capital, which is usually called a “friends and family” funding round, but before big institutional investors invest. Angels step in at a critical time when the company needs more funds to prove out its concept which, in turn, will hopefully generate interest in much bigger investments from venture capital groups.

In the U.S., angels are estimated to invest a whopping $25 billon every year. But in addition to this important funding, many angel groups – including ASAP – offer coaching, mentoring, contacts and general business knowledge and advice to these budding young entrepreneurs, who are usually brilliant in their own fields but sometimes lack the experience that their angel investors can bring.

Angel investing is high-risk, and some of these early-stage businesses will of course go bust. On the other hand, some go on to realize huge returns for their early investors, and every big household-name technology company you can point to started out with some early angel investors to get them off the ground. Angels who band together in groups like ASAP reduce their risk by pooling their funds, as well as putting in place processes that aim to weed out all but the best of these young businesses. While we at ASAP have admittedly had a few “dogs” that performed poorly over the years, we have also had several big wins including one “lab on a chip” technology business that returned about eight times our initial investment, and another medtech company that returned even more. 

ASAP has become one of the biggest angel investment groups in the Southeastern USA, and currently has investments in 35 companies. While we tend to focus mostly on technology businesses, the range is wide and interesting. Our portfolio includes companies that are developing high-tech medical devices, new surgical procedures, genetic engineering solutions, advanced breastfeeding technologies, agricultural technologies, the use of artificial intelligence in skin care and cancer detection, a high-end bourbon distillery, a manufacturer of ancient-grain-based vegan buttermilk products that just launched into Whole Foods, and much more. You can see our entire portfolio and learn more about our group at 

Why do our members join an angel group? Some are involved because it gives them a chance to invest relatively modest amounts in young, privately held businesses and they seek some investment diversification outside of the public stock markets. Other members enjoy the “business camaraderie” that comes with attending the meetings or working with other members on screening or due diligence teams. Yet others enjoy the exposure to some of the brightest and smartest entrepreneurs in the world, who are running businesses like those described above, and hearing the “investment pitches” about some really mind-blowing new technologies that these smart young people aim to develop.  As for me, I joined ASAP for all of these reasons, and it has been a great and rewarding journey.

All angel groups are different, but in ASAP, our members make their own investment decisions, and there is never an obligation to invest. Our group is member-owned and does not aim to make a profit from member activities or investments. ASAP is managed by a member-elected board, of which I am honored to say that I have been elected to chair in 2022. We are a proud member of the Angel Capital Association, the largest angel professional development organization in the world, comprised of over 14,000 angels and 250 angel groups.

Angel investing is not for everyone, but it certainly has an important place in many portfolios, as well as an important role in the development of game-changing new technologies. It can also, in my view, be great fun. If you are interested in joining our group or finding out more, please reach out to me at

Ariel Savannah Angel Partners Announces New Board Chairman Carl D. Francis

Ariel Savannah Angel Partners Announces New Board Chairman Carl D. Francis

SAVANNAH, GA – JANUARY 12, 2022 – Ariel Savannah Angel Partners (ASAP), an angel investing group based in Savannah, GA, has named Carl D. Francis as its new board chairman. Francis, a seasoned entrepreneur and investor who has led a number of high-profile  technology companies from start-up to success, has been an ASAP member since 2006. He has served on the group’s board since 2017 and was appointed vice chair last year. Francis’ new role became effective this month as he takes the reins from former Chairman Beau Anders, a Landings-based retired Silicon Valley KPMG Managing Partner.

Angel investors provide capital to startup businesses, typically in exchange for a stake in the company or a debt security. ASAP, founded in 2005, has become one of the biggest angel investment groups in the Southeastern U.S. and currently has investments in 35 companies. ASAP’s portfolio includes a number of interesting and high-potential businesses that are developing high-tech medical devices, new surgical procedures, genetic engineering solutions, advanced breastfeeding technologies, agricultural technologies, the use of artificial intelligence in skin care and cancer detection, a high-end bourbon distillery, a manufacturer of ancient-grain-based vegan buttermilk products that just launched into Whole Foods, and more.

Francis recently retired as CEO of Eyoto, a European MedTech business based in Birmingham, England that specializes in the development of advanced engineering and AI software platforms for the optical and ophthalmic industries. Before joining and investing in Eyoto in 2017, he spent eight years as CEO of P2i, a nano-technology spin-out from the UK Ministry of Defense based in Oxford, England which he grew from a pre-revenue start up into the dominant global player in the functional nano-coating industry. Francis also spent three years as CEO acquiring, running, and successfully exiting Adria Ltd., Ireland’s largest textile business, in a leveraged buyout on behalf of a small private equity group in which he was a founding partner. 

Francis has also held several non-executive roles, including chairman of London-based HSD Communications Ltd. from 1998 to 2007. He started his career as a Certified Public Accountant, is a member of Mensa, and has a BSc from the University of Cincinnati. Francis and his British wife Lesley live in Richmond Hill.

Outgoing ASAP board chair Beau Anders commented, “I have always enjoyed working with exciting, early-stage businesses, and ASAP provides a great platform for that involvement. We have an excellent angel investing group here in Savannah, with a solid investment portfolio and an enthusiastic and active membership. I am proud of what our members have achieved over the past few years, and I have a lot of confidence that Carl will build on that positive momentum.”

Francis looks forward to leading the group into its next chapter. 

“I am delighted and honored to take on this new challenge,” Francis said. “Overall, ASAP members have invested about $15 million over past 17 years, and we pride ourselves on providing not only capital but mentoring, guidance  and industry expertise to enthusiastic young entrepreneurs.

When asked about the appeal of ASAP membership, he added, “Some of our members join in order to broaden their personal investment portfolios into privately held, early stage businesses, while others enjoy meeting and hearing from smart and passionate young entrepreneurs. Yet others enjoy the social aspect and camaraderie that comes from being part of our group and involvement on one of our investment teams. Over the years, I think I have been in each of those categories at one time or another.”

ASAP members come from a variety of backgrounds across a wide range of industries. Some are still building their careers, some are active retirees, and some are passive investors seeking a high return. ASAP’s mission is to provide opportunities for its members to potentially achieve outstanding financial returns through investment and involvement in early-stage companies with a focus on technology. For more information, please visit


For media inquiries, please contact Hollie Barnidge at or 912-272-8651 or Lesley Francis at or 912-429-3950 or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377).

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Ariel Savannah Angel Partners’ Virtual Meeting for Prospective Members

Ariel Savannah Angel Partners’ Virtual Meeting for Prospective Members

SAVANNAH, GA – MAY 3, 2021 Ariel Savannah Angel Partners (ASAP) will host a one-hour virtual meeting at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, May 13 to introduce ASAP to prospective members and those considering angel investing. The meeting is open to current angel investors, as well as those who would like to learn more about working with exciting, young technology businesses.

Angel investing, which involves working with early-stage companies to provide capital, mentoring and support, can be rewarding and fun. Savannah is home to ASAP, one of the largest angel groups in the Southeastern United States, and the group seeks to expand its membership.

The presentation will include a discussion on “The Anatomy of an Angel Investment,” which details the team processes that ASAP goes through to screen, evaluate, invest in and monitor these exciting young technology businesses. ASAP members not only have the opportunity to provide capital to these transformative early-stage ventures, but many members also enjoy the teamwork and camaraderie of the group as well as the intellectual stimulation of working with cutting-edge technologies.

ASAP is certified by the Angel Capital Association (ACA) and is one of the largest Angel Groups in the Southeast, having invested over $13 million in 35 companies since its founding in 2005. ASAP has a focus on businesses that provide disruptive, cutting-edge technologies, and the group’s current portfolio is available for viewing at

For information or details on how to “attend” the virtual meeting, please email ASAP directly at, or contact board members Carl Francis ( or 912-429-3800) or Pete Kastner ( or 912-999-6564).

ASAP prides itself on providing not only capital but mentoring and industry expertise as well. For more information on the group, please visit .


For media inquiries, please contact ASAP’s media partner Lesley Francis PR, Inc. at 912-417-LFPR or