Driving Midwest innovation

Our Story

Gopher Angels was launched in 2012, when the MN startup community was flourishing. As lifelong entrepreneurs, David and Sara Russick recognized the need for an organized angel investment community to support startups and contribute to the growth of Minnesota’s innovation ecosystem.

Together, with key advisors from the startup and investment community, they launched Gopher Angels, Minnesota’s largest and most active angel investor network.

Today, Gopher Angels is open to accredited angel investors from all facets of Minnesota’s robust corporate, investment and entrepreneurial sectors. Gopher Angels provides elevated access to Midwest deal flow and a facilitated investment process.

Our collaborative members provide their expertise and mentorship. Together, we aim to invest in high-potential startups and provide a value-added experience for entrepreneurs from all industries.

Our Team

Gopher Angels is fueled by a passion for helping both early stage companies and angel investors succeed.

Dave Russick

Founder, Managing Director

Sara Russick

Founder, Managing Director

Photograph of Associate Intern, Jeremy.

Jeremy Troedson

Associate Intern

Photograph of Associate Intern, Cy.

Cy Hudson

Associate Intern

Photograph of Associate Intern, Steven.

Steven Kutz

Associate Intern

Our Advisory Board

  • John Stavig – Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship, Carlson School of Management University of Minnesota
  • Joy Lindsay – StarTec Investments
  • Earnest Grumbles – Grumbles Law PLLC
  • Jeff Robbins – Avisen Legal, P.A., AngelPolleNation
  • Brad Lehrman – Soffer Lehrman Law Group, PLLC

Our Investors

Gopher Angels is comprised of active, passionate investors who bring a diverse range of backgrounds to support one mission, helping your business grow.

Our Philosophy

We’re supporting an ecosystem, and that means supporting both investors and entrepreneurs.

To do this, we look to create values and drive innovation through funding, mentorship, and expertise.

Sound like a fit?

Check out our criteria to see if Gopher Angels is right for you.

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What is Angel Investing?

 

Angel Investors fill an important niche in the funding process for start-up businesses. Most start-ups begin with investments from founders, friends, and family- but when those investments aren’t sufficient to grow the business large enough to attract traditional Venture Capitalists, angel investors may be the perfect bridge. Below is additional information about sourcing.

 

EXTERNAL LINKS:

https://gust.com/founders/raise

https://articles.bplans.com/5-essentials-for-angel-investment/

https://www.thebalancesmb.com/what-are-angel-investors-392985

https://www.rockiesventureclub.org/colorado-capital-conference/how-do-angel-investors-differ-from-venture-capitalists/

 

ANGEL SYNDICATE:

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Banking Resources

There are a plethora of funding resources available for start up businesses- but having a well-established banking relationship is critical for funding day-to-day operations. Banking relationships open doors to small business loans, lines of credit, and other resources that can accelerate the growth of a new business. Some banks have departments focused on small business support that are optimized to work with start-ups. Below are several key banking resources for a new company:

 

EXTERNAL LINKS:

https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans

https://www.nerdwallet.com/best/small-business/small-business-loans/business-line-of-credit

https://bankwithchoice.com/businesses/

https://www.nav.com/business-financing-options/

 

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Legal Resources

Establishing a solid legal footing for your new business is a critical first step. Angel and Venture Capital Investors have similar business structure requirements, along with interest and preference for strong intellectual property protection if applicable to your business. Partnering with the right legal team can help young businesses tackle problems like understanding term sheets, types of financing, business tax laws, syndicated investments, and more.

 

EXTERNAL LINKS:

https://www.delawareinc.com/blog/do-i-need-a-business-license-business-license-info/

https://www.delawareinc.com/blog/why-venture-capitalists-prefer-delaware-c-corps/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/maryjuetten/2015/08/11/do-venture-capitalists-care-about-intellectual-property/?sh=48db1b855b87"

https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/basics

https://www.investopedia.com/best-small-business-insurance-4844202

 

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Accounting & Taxes

Investing the time to getting your books off on the right foot can save a lot of time in the long run. Many small businesses find that it is easier to contract with an accounting and tax firm with expertise in start-up businesses to ensure that they are accounting for taxes and bookkeeping needs appropriately. The below resources discuss the types of business tax and accounting best-practices that are crucial for any start-up.

 

 

EXTERNAL LINKS:

https://www.thebalancesmb.com/bookkeeping-and-accounting-for-small-business-393002

https://quickbooks.intuit.com/live/bookkeeping-guide/bookkeeping-basics/

https://vc-list.com/cpas-vc-funding/"

https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/11205-when-should-you-hire-cpa.html

 

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Becoming an Angel Investor

Angel investors are required to be accredited investors and are generally relatively high net worth individuals. Additionally, it can be helpful, although not required, for the investor to understand details about the industry, business, or product that they are investing in. Joining an Angel Network can be a great way to get a foot in the door and get exposure to a wide range of investable companies and co-investors. Below is additional information about becoming an Angel Investor.

 

EXTERNAL LINKS:

https://money.usnews.com/investing/investing-101/articles/how-to-become-an-angel-investor

https://tech.mn/news/2020/07/29/mind-the-gap-we-need-more-minnesota-angel-investment/

https://www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2020-191

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Why Angel Investing?

Angel investing provides a unique opportunity to connect capital and investor expertise to early stage start-ups. Investors often bring more than just financing to the table at these early stages- industry expertise, connections, and mentorship can all be just as impactful on businesses success. Becoming an angel investor can be rewarding; financially, professionally, and personally! Below are several links to more perspectives on the benefits of angel investing.

 

EXTERNAL LINKS:

https://gouchevlaw.com/5-key-differences-angel-venture-capital/

https://www.angelcapitalassociation.org/blog/the-rewards-of-being-an-angel-investor/

https://www.angelinvestmentnetwork.us/investor-resources

 

WHY ANGEL NETWORKS?

Angel networks take some of the guesswork out of early-stage investment process. Rather than sourcing, vetting, and There are a number of benefits to joining an angel network like Gopher Angels. The most obvious is the diversification benefit: joining a network often allows for smaller investments in a wider range of companies vetted by other industry-expert angels. Similarly, Angel networks provide connections to other investors, industries, and companies that solo investors may struggle to secure. For new investors, networks provide access to a well vetted screening process and the guidance of seasoned angels.

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Taxes

There are Tax incentives for angel investors at the Federal level, as well as a state level tax credit for Minnesota-based investors. Working with a savvy tax firm can take the guess-work out of qualifying investments. There are more details about the benefits of these tax incentives below.

 

EXTERNAL LINKS:

https://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/pubs/ss/ssanginv.pdf

https://crowdwise.org/taxes/three-ways-the-us-gives-tax-relief-for-investing-in-startups/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/mariannehudson/2014/11/17/tax-tips-every-angel-investor-should-know/?sh=4ccc8e3cd069

https://crowdwise.org/taxes/the-five-tax-questions-every-startup-investor-should-answer/

 

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Legal

There are several steps in the investment process that might benefit from legal review, but the most important is a legal review of the term sheet prior to investment. Investors may choose to conduct their own legal reviews, or when investing with a group (such as with an angel network) typically the entrepreneur or angel network will cover the cost of the legal review for the group as a whole. Other useful information about the role of lawyers in angel investment can be found below.

 

EXTERNAL LINKS:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/mariannehudson/2014/09/10/simple-term-sheets-align-angel-investors-and-entrepreneurs-for-more-successful-deals/?sh=7c1c8afc24a5

http://www.calstartuplawfirm.com/business-lawyer-blog/angel-investor-term-sheet.php

https://operatorcollective.com/your-legal-checklist-for-angel-investing/

https://www.holloway.com/g/angel-investing/sections/legal-due-diligence-for-angel-investments

 

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Human Resources

Finding and hiring the right talent for your early-stage business is crucial to success. Establishing HR procedures and policies early on can save a headache later, and working with the right services can aid with hiring and policy development. The links below provide some helpful early-stage resources from first steps to best practices for the long term.

 

EXTERNAL LINKS:

https://gusto.com/blog/people-management/4-hr-must-dos-for-first-time-entrepreneurs

https://www.bamboohr.com/blog/hr-checklist-for-startups/

https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/toolkits/pages/startinganhrdepartment.aspx

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/336446

https://resources.workable.com/stories-and-insights/startups-hr-practices

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Insurance

All start-up businesses require insurance. Some kinds of businesses will require specialized insurance offerings to mitigate their risk, but many can operate with just a few simple policies like general-coverage, personal liability, and commercial property insurance. Working with the right insurance providers can protect small start-ups from outsized risk and ensure that you are well protected against liability concerns.

 

EXTERNAL LINKS:

https://www.svb.com/blogs/lewis-hower/startup-insurance-guide-for-founders

https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/launch-your-business/get-business-insurance

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/241026

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