CAV Angels Achieves Record Growth in Startup Investments, Expands Leadership to Further Education and Support UVA Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

New Board Appointments Will Support Alumni Outreach And Deal Pipeline

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021 —  In 2020, amidst a wildly uncertain investing climate, CAV Angels doubled down on its mission to educate and invest in the UVA community and saw record activity in both deals and educational initiatives.  With an already growing virtual network of members nationally, they pivoted seamlessly to an entirely online platform to streamline operations and connections with members. The angel group found success in this new environment, closing fourteen deals, including eleven new and three follow-on raises, totaling more than $3 million. Total funding for the year was more than 1 1/2 times the cumulative investment in the group’s prior three year history. Membership among accredited investors, educational members and students more than doubled.

As a non-profit angel group, CAV Angels provides educational programming and networking for UVA alumni, students and faculty interested in private, early stage investment; and invests in early stage growth companies with a UVA affiliation through CAV Angels Investments, a separate for profit LLC that oversees and manages existing and future CAV Angels group investments.

Now in its fifth year and gaining momentum, co-founders and co-chairs Jim Cheng and Rich Diemer are focusing on expanding the all-volunteer group’s capacity to fund high-potential, scalable ventures nationally, and building a connected and active alumni network interested in hands-on education in startup investing.

“We are entering a new phase of growth and have appointed new board members and a board president to keep pace, increase high-quality pipeline opportunities, add diversity of perspectives, and deepen connections within the UVA alumni and university communities,” Diemer said.

Paul Nolde, UVA A&S ’01, McIntire Business Institute and a current CAV Angels board member, will serve as the group’s inaugural board president and liaison to the executive committee. The board’s expansion includes the addition of five notable leaders within the university and entrepreneurial ecosystem:

  • Aaron Fernstrom, Director, UVA Darden Richard A. Mayo Center for Asset Management
  • Nikki Hastings, Executive Director, CvilleBioHub
  • Nicole Thorne Jenkins, John A. Griffin Dean of the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia
  • Christine Mahoney, Professor of Public Policy and Politics at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and Director of Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Virginia
  • Lily West, President & CEO, UVA Alumni Association

Nolde’s background spans nearly two decades in banking and venture capital, most recently in fund management as the current Fund Manager and Managing Director of the Riverflow Growth Fund, a venture capital fund based in Richmond, VA, investing in early-to-late seed stage, high growth startups across the Mid-Atlantic, with a bias toward Virginia-based companies. Previously, he was at NRV, a $33M venture capital fund also based in Richmond, VA, investing at the Series A stage.

“We have a proven model and, in my role as board president, I would like to see CAV Angels be recognized as one of the most active and esteemed angel networks in the country,” Nolde said. “We also want to do well by the university in growing our membership base, reach and investment in UVA affiliated entrepreneurs and ideas.”

The group ended 2020 with a seed round investment of $465K in Springbok Analytics, a university spinout company with UVA affiliated founders offering AI-powered solutions to provide accurate, rapid and comprehensive insight and analysis of the human musculoskeletal system.

“We have some of the most talented, educated, and resourceful alumni out there, and want to both support entrepreneurs in the network and encourage alumni to give back, in terms of investment and expertise, to bolster the university ecosystem,” Cheng said.

On the education side, co-founder and chair emeritus Dick Crawford will focus on growth initiatives to provide more hands-on experience where members and students can apply their knowledge to the startup environment. This will take the shape of training sessions, mentorship opportunities, virtual courses through the Angel Capital Association, and continued on-Grounds partnerships with the UVA Darden Mayo Center, the Virginia Venture Fund, a student run club at the McIntire School of Commerce, and others to support student communities and faculty endeavors. More partnerships in the works will be initiated in the coming months, Crawford said.

“We are developing a whole generation of future investors and entrepreneurs from the UVA community,” Crawford said. “We are teaching people how to invest in the companies of the future, the economy of the future, and the ideas of the future.”