TechLounge: Central Ohio Technology | Entrepreneurs | Innovation
The Angel Capital Association (ACA) and Angel Resource Institute (ARI) have named John Huston as the recipient of the 2012 Hans Severiens Award, honoring one individual each year whose actions demonstrate leadership in advancing the role of angel investing, in expanding entrepreneurship, and whose accomplishments shape and benefit the angel investment industry as a whole.
Huston is founder and leader of Ohio TechAngels (OTAF). He is also a member and serves on the executive committees of North Coast Angel Fund in Cleveland and the East Central Ohio Tech Angel Fund in Athens.
Huston has been a catalyst for the seven angel groups in Ohio to syndicate deals. Today Ohio’s angel community routinely provides $3 million to its most promising ventures, positioning them for their first institutional round.
Models and best practices from the Ohio TechAngels have been the basis for workshops in the ARI’s widely acclaimed Power of Angel Investing series. Recognizing how important leadership is to any angel group, Mr. Huston was instrumental in developing the ACA Leaders Workshop, which provides a forum for angel group leaders to meet with their peers and angel leaders to address the challenges and opportunities angel group leaders face.
“John Huston is passionate about angel investing and about building strength and sustainability into the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Marianne Hudson, ACA executive director. “He is a generous and influential contributor to the industry.”
“John has been and continues to be a remarkable thought leader and visionary implementer, establishing best practices in every aspect of angel group operations, from due diligence, to valuation, from syndication to preparing a company for a successful exit, and then sharing those creative ideas and best practices with hundreds of other angel groups.”
Huston took up angel investing following a highly successful career in banking and finance.
“I flunked retirement,” he says. “In banking I thoroughly enjoyed working with CEOs to help them grow their businesses. After a year of retirement, I couldn’t find anything as entertaining. I missed interacting with CEOs and people with exciting ideas. I’ve always loved the business puzzle.”
As a banker in Boston, Huston was intrigued by the active angel community there, but was too busy to become involved. Moving back to Columbus, he saw angels investing as individuals but no angel group. In 2004 he founded Ohio TechAngels which has grown to be one of the country’s largest and most active groups, with 282 members and three funds.
In eight years, Ohio TechAngels has invested in 35 companies that have created more than 360 jobs with average salaries of over $80,000, more than double the average salary in the state.
“As a banker I spent my days analyzing whether mature businesses could pay back their loans, but now that seems so pedestrian compared to the challenge of selecting which start-ups might be successful,” Huston says. “I can’t adequately express the thrill of finding, funding, and helping Ohio entrepreneurs launch their dream enterprise. And when their venture is acquired, doubles staffing, and entrepreneurs reap significant personal wealth, the feeling of satisfaction is almost overwhelming.”
Huston is ACA Chairman Emeritus, and past Chair of the Angel Capital Education Foundation (now ARI). He is the only leader who has chaired both organizations.
The Hans Severiens Award is named after a founder of angel investment movement and Band of Angels of Menlo Park, CA, the oldest and one of the most active investment groups in the United States. Dr. Severiens was also a founder of the Angel Capital Association. It was presented during the ACA annual meeting in Austin, TX this week.
“I am profoundly honored to receive the Hans Severiens Award,” said Mr. Huston, “and thrilled for Ohio. It is extremely gratifying to see our state’s momentum receive such national recognition.”