Westchester’s business landscape has more than a few bragging rights: a growing biotech industry; booming finance, insurance, and real estate sectors; and plenty of intellectual capital.But a robust startup ecosystem? Not so much. Entrepreneurs seem more at home in Silicon Valley than in the Hudson Valley.
Westchester Angels—a new angel investment firm—is looking to change that. “We were surprised by the potential for entrepreneurship here in the Westchester area,” says White Plains resident Jeff Loehr, who cofounded the group alongside Jonathan Rosen and Sandford (Sandy) Wollman, of Tarrytown and Rye, respectively. The trio first convened in November of 2015, pooling their experience in product development, business advisory services, angel investing, and startup formation.
Angel investing is about connecting investors with new companies looking to scale, Loehr says. “If a person wants to open up a local deli, that’s not an angel investment. But if they want to open up a chain of delis across the country and put Subway out of business, that’s a scalable business model,” he says.
While many angel investor groups have a narrow focus—like medical tech or consumer apps—Westchester Angels has no specific industry that we focus on,” Wollman says. Recently, they’ve scouted startups in the food and beverage, medical technology, and software industries. The trio finds potential entrepreneurs by working their networks, fielding requests from hopeful startups and aligning with other nearby angel investment groups. Loehr says an angel investment round generally raises anywhere from $250,000 to $1 million—but often, one angel group will work with others to reach that amount.
Another trait setting Westchester Angels apart? “Our focus is finding companies that are close by,” Loehr says. “We can make it to their place of business and back in time for dinner and still make a meaningful contribution.”