My friend and colleague Joe Rubin is a co-founder of FundingPost, a cutting-edge networking group for entrepreneurs, angel investors, and VCs. FundingPost hosts networking events across the country and Joe is the guy who makes it all happen. Among many other things, Joe curates a dynamic library of investment opportunities that makes it quick and easy for investors to find and review deals.
In 2010 Joe Rubin, Mike Kelley, David Freschman, and Ed Reitler launched the ARC Angel Fund of NYC. ARC raised the FundingPost concept up a few notches by forming a group of angel investors, VC partners, and business execs and a process in which members review opportunities, perform due diligence, and vote on the investment decisions. I became an ARC member in 2012 just before the fund closed, the very last of 75 members from NY, NJ, and CT to sign up. ARC due diligence has taught me a lot about what to look for in a portfolio company. The majority of SPELLNET Capital investments were sourced by FundingPost and vetted by my ARC colleagues. Returns from ARC and its side deals have exceeded our initial investment. It’s been fabulous.
For example: In October 2013, a brand new company named Augmate attended a FundingPost event in NYC and subsequently applied to ARC for funding. They were building digital eyewear apps for the desk-less worker doing things like warehouse management. Its CEO Pete Wassell had established personal contacts with all major wearable device companies and was working toward POCs with companies like Toyota, Tesla, and SAP. Pete had secured a sizable investment from renowned VC Tim Draper. Joe said, “I’ve been spending a bit of time with these guys for a little while now and actually they have made a lot of progress lately. I think this company has amazing potential. I would highly recommend bringing them in.”
Thanks to Joe, Augmate made the cut and was invited to pitch their company and business deal at the November 2013 ARC members meeting. The members voted to move Augmate into due diligence. The due diligence committee and managing partners were divided about moving forward, mostly due to the risk of investing into a premature market for wearable devices at that time. Ultimately, ARC decided against making an investment due to lack of a compelling majority in favor of doing the deal, but that was not the end of the story.
Joe continued to monitor and advise Augmate, and sure enough they secured a second substantial investment. Joe then leaped into action and gathered together ARC members and other angels who had been in favor of Augmate to form an investment LLC called FP Angels Augmate. Together we invested a sum into Augmate that was greater than the amount ARC was proposing to invest. Joe’s commitment to Augmate at a time of uncertainty was an inspiration to both me and Pete Wassell. We stayed in touch and I started helping Pete to build an effective software development team. A year later, I was honored when Pete invited me to join his very first Board of Directors at Augmate.
Fast forward: Having survived for 3 years in a premature market for wearable devices, Augmate Corporation has emerged as a rising star in the IoT industry by embracing the use of blockchain technology to build enhanced wearable applications. With the help of COO Dana Farbo, Augmate launched an incredibly successful ICO in 2017 for its MATE security tokens. They have the necessary resources to take their IoT wearable device management product to the next level and are building an open architecture platform with blockchain as a significant part of the technology stack. As a platform, Augmate will drive value and revenue for its wearable device partners and other IoT vendors in multiple ways. It’s a huge market but they are very focused on key industry verticals like supply chain for size and need. Today, they are a thought leader in the industry, and with the recent hiring of veteran technologists like CTO Dave Evans and Chief Architect Keith Deutsch, Augmate is well positioned to fulfill its “amazing potential” as foreseen by my friend and colleague Joe Rubin. It’s going to be an interesting ride …