The Download: Next Gen Angels on an investment roll in first year

Next Gen Angels, a collective of nearly 70 early-stage investors that launched earlier this year, has cut checks to five local companies in the past seven months — a more rapid spate of investments than organizers initially expected.

The group’s investments include:→→

Social Radar , the location-based mobile app developed by former Blackboard CEO Michael Chasen, a Next Gen Angels member.

Spinnakr , a tool to help Web sites automatically cater to each visitor.

Speek , a conference call alternative company.

Apx Labs, the developers of an operating system for large organizations to use computerized eyeglasses.

Dashboard , the creators of software for investors founded by 500 Startups partner Paul Singh, also a Next Gen Angels member.

Next Gen Angels was formed with an entrepreneur-friendly ethos, said founder Dan Mindus, the investment director at CIT GAP Funds.

“All members sign a code of conduct, which includes a whole host of things they need to do, so if there’s a potential angel who is unwilling to live up to that mission, then they simply don’t join,” Mindus said.

The group’s rules dictates that every member must agree to provide a portfolio company with support, such as mentorship or access to their professional network, if 10 or more members invest in the firm.

Members are also required to invest in at least one company every 12 months, meaning entrepreneurs aren’t pitching to an audience without money in the bank or a desire to spend it, as is sometimes the case in other venues.

Among the group’s roughly 70 members are both entrepreneurs and investors, including Seva Call co-founder Manpreet Singh, CIT GAP Funds senior associate Jen O’Daniel, TDF Ventures Principal Joe Harar and TechCocktail duo Jen Consalvo and Frank Gruber, among others.

A CEO for Md. tech council

The Tech Council of Maryland installed Philip Schiff as chief executive, the industry association announced last week. He will take the reins Oct. 1.

Schiff comes to the council from the Bethesda-based American Association of Blood Banks, where he served most recently as chief strategy officer.

A native Marylander (who, it just so happens, moved to the District just weeks ago), Schiff’s experience with the state’s technology sector is limited primarily to interactions with biotechnology firms developing transfusion and cellular therapies.

Nevertheless, he said in an interview that he believes the council will delve into policy debates, focus on issues such as taxation and transportation, and expand its reach to parts of the state beyond Montgomery County and Baltimore.

The council has struggled at times to effectively serve its two key constituents — biotechnology and information technology companies. Both have a stronghold in the state, yet often face different obstacles to growth.

“At the end of the day, I also think I’m here to help them come to consensus, and I think those industries are part of a bigger cycle of serving the community and serving each other,” he said. “Everybody’s got an interest but when you boil it down they’re probably not that far apart.”

ID.me a grantee

Tysons Corner-based ID.me received a $1.2 million grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology to develop and test online identification technology.

The company plans to use the grant to earn Level of Assurance 3 credentials from the General Services Administration, which will allow its members to securely identify themselves when interacting online with federal agencies.

ID.me expects it will receive a second grant worth $1.6 million from the agency after a year, co-founders Blake Hall and Matthew Thompson said.

The company’s mission has evolved since it was first founded in 2010 as an online marketplace and daily deals site for military families. The company now authenticates military and public safety personnel to access online discounts and benefits at retailers.

More than 200,000 veterans and service members use ID.me’s Troop ID service, according to a news release.

Battleground Bethesda

A group of Maryland entrepreneurs aren’t afraid to mess with Texas.

A bus loaded with entrepreneurs participating in Startup Maryland’s Pitch Across Maryland tour to promote young companies rolled into Bethesda Wednesday for a business competition.

They weren’t alone.

Also in Bethesda was Texas Gov. Rick Perry, dining with local political and business officials at Morton’s Steakhouse as part of his own tour aimed at recruiting firms to the Lone Star State.

“If you want to live in a state where you have high taxes and a relatively burdensome regulatory climate, if you want to live in a state where the litigation is relatively easy to get into, then go live in those states,” Perry told Bethesda Now.

“But if you want to be free, if you want to live free, free from over-taxation and over-litigation, free from over-regulation, in a place that’s got a great, skilled work force, move to Texas.”

The dozen or so entrepreneurs from Startup Maryland won’t be packing suitcases anytime soon. Though they did not get to speak with Perry directly as hoped, organizers still voiced concern with his sales pitch.

“The messaging from Gov. Perry is laser focused on the tax environment,” said Startup Maryland co-chairman Michael Binko. “If businesses are only looking at the tax environment for where they should go to succeed, we think that’s shortsighted as entrepreneurs, and probably a recipe for disaster.”

Binko suggests businesses also look at the caliber of schools, available tax credits and access to venture capital — areas where he asserts Maryland has more to offer than Texas.

Steven Overly is a national reporter covering federal technology and energy policy with a focus on Capitol Hill. He previously covered the business of technology, biotechnology and venture capital.

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