Alumni Angels Investing Group Provides Opportunities for Andover Graduates’ Start-Ups

Founded in June of 2022, the student-run Andover Alumni Angels became the first angel investment group to be created in a high school setting. So far, the group has held two pitch nights–one in late July and the other in early September. After their first pitch meeting, the group raised $600,000 in funding from investors.

With a mission to create an active and multi-generational network for entrepreneurs and angel investors in the Andover community, organization founder Venkat Sundaram ’23 began reaching out to alumni involved in the Andover business community. He was inspired to create the group after connecting with an alumnus during his Lower year. 

“It started off with me wanting to give back to Andover in some way. I thought one of the ways to do that was to connect Andover in a better way. [Alumni Angels is] essentially a community of folks, composed of entrepreneurs and angel investors, who come together not only for the investors to invest in these startups, but to connect and reconnect. For the future, I’m looking forward to supporting entrepreneurs and continuing to trailblaze as the first high school angel investment organization,” said Sundaram. 

With 78 members of various races, genders, and ages, the Andover Alumni Angel program differs from other angel investment groups in terms of diversity and inclusion, according to Karen Humphries Sallick ’83. She described her previous experiences as a woman in entrepreneurship and the unique environment provided by Alumni Angels when pitching her startup, Contacts 411.  

“Both pitch nights that I’ve been to were materially different than any other pitch that I’ve done. I’ve been on pitches where it’s fifty men and me, so it’s really important that if we’re talking about Andover as a place of inclusion and Youth from Every Quarter that it happens in [Alumni Angels] as well. Seven companies pitched: three were women-owned businesses, four were run by people of color, and the graduating years of the founders were from 1983 to 2019,” said Sallick. 

Sharing the same sentiment, Sid Smith ’85, the founder of Non Sibi Ventures, emphasized the importance of keeping Andover’s values of Non Sibi and Youth from Every Quarter in groups outside of the school, including the angel investment program. 

“Building successful companies and getting the opportunity to invest in those businesses depends on those [investing] relationships, historically, that network has only been open to a select few. I feel like if we combine Andover’s incredible resources and values to apply that in a business setting, we have a chance to build a powerful network where innovation flourishes and the best ideas [flow] regardless of gender, geography, or race,” said Smith.

Another member of the Alumni Angels program, Eamon Garrity-Rokous ’20, praised how the large network between alumni creates various opportunities for graduating students of Andover. Garrity-Rokous furthered his statement by adding his personal aspirations for the program.

“What this network can do is broaden the horizons of potential clear paths for a lot of folks coming out of Andover. I think Andover has a really strong, close Alumni network and I think once folks start asking around and utilizing it more, they’ll build themselves something very valuable for the world. I would love to see a really incredible and passionate emphatic founder build an idea that solves a big problem in this world,” said Garrity-Rokous.

Despite the success of Andover Alumni Angels, the many students on Andover’s campus have never heard of the program. Though students are not able to create start-ups through the organization, Sundaram hopes that the Alumni Angels can eventually host speakers to educate current students on investment and entrepreneurship in the future.

Editor’s Note: This article was edited on October 9, 2022.