Bucking the Trend: VisionTech Angels Invest $2.88 Million in 18 Deals, Nearly a Half a Million More than in 2022

Jan 23

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (January 23, 2024) – – In a report issued January 4 by Crunchbase, global investing in startups stalled in 2023, declining by 38%, the lowest level in five years. Lackluster investing left startups scrambling for capital, tightening belts, laying off employees, and even shutting down.

Perhaps VisionTech Angels didn’t get the memo because the Indianapolis-based venture firm bucked the trend, increasing its total amount invested in 2023 by 18%. VisionTech Angels invested $2.88 million in 2023, nearly a half million dollars over the previous year ($2.4 million). The group’s investors ponied up, participating in 18 deals, writing 157 checks. VisionTech ended the year with eight new portfolio companies: Adipo Therapeutics, Amplified Sciences, FiberX, Laxis, Mentavi Health, NuvOx Therapeutics, Pelvital USA, Inc. (Flyte), and Primary Record.

Ben Pidgeon, executive director of VisionTech, says despite headwinds his group stayed the course and continued to invest, taking advantage of the most investor friendly terms in a decade. “We had a really great year in 2023. Company valuations were lower, investors had more leverage on deal terms, and thanks to our great syndication network in Indiana and across the country, we were able to participate in attractive deals on companies generating income and hitting key milestones.”

He adds, “Investors in the Midwest tend to be practical, maybe a bit conservative. In 2023, when VisionTech was presented with good deals, we moved quickly, sometimes in as little as 30 days.”

(L-R) Lydia Zeller, Patrick Russo, Diana Caldwell

One of those was deals was Pelvital, a femtech company based in Minneapolis with a novel device called Flyte for treating urinary incontinence in women. VisionTech was part of a syndicate of investors led by Boomerang Ventures, investing $259,900 in two rounds during 2023. The deal first came to VisionTech in 2021 but the group passed, unconvinced of its ability to scale. When Pelvital circled back in 2023 with a new CEO, Lydia Zeller, a new business model and the ability to meet ambitious milestones, VisionTech’s members embraced the opportunity.

Says Pidgeon, “Lydia is a strong startup founder and leader. Although she faced some skepticism from investors early on, she wasn’t fazed and outperformed her milestones. Pelvital just completed a companion app for their device, has successfully transitioned from a B2C to B2B company, and the results of their clinical trial will soon be published in an important peer-reviewed journal, Therapeutic Advances in Urology. That performance earned her two rounds of investment in 2023 from our group.”

VisionTech investors also reacted strongly to OnStation, a mobile productivity app for roadway workers. Since VisionTech’s original investment in 2021, OnStation has signed contracts with multiple states’ Department of Transportation and more than 100 contractors as their go-to app for interstate construction projects. VisionTech has participated invested in two rounds with OnStation totaling $803,000.

OnStation CEO Patrick Russo says having VisionTech as an investor is a huge advantage for his startup. “Knowing I can count on VisionTech for follow-on investments has made fundraising easier. I can circle the wagons with them, see what I’ve got and what I still need to raise. Because they’ve invested multiple times, that gives new investors the confidence to invest in us, too.”

Another plus is having a VisionTech investor, Scott Noble, serve on OnStation’s board of directors. “Scott sees everything that’s happening in our company; there are no secrets. The trust we’ve built over three years is invaluable.”

Pidgeon says VisionTech investors focused a lot of attention on startup leadership teams in 2023. Investors were impressed with Diana Caldwell, CEO of Amplified Sciences, a startup based on technology developed at Purdue University. “Diana gained deep experience while working at Lilly for 17 years, as founder of Pearl Pathways and an entrepreneur-in-residence at Purdue. This gave our group confidence in Diana; 21 investors wrote checks totaling $165,000 to Amplified Sciences in their fundraising round.”

Caldwell says VisionTech’s funding helped her startup close their seed round of investment which fueled the achievement of major milestones. “We secured our CLIA lab regulatory certificate, have a soft launch of our first test targeted, and are developing two additional tests.”

In addition to continuing to invest, VisionTech also had three exits with positive returns to investors: Allotrope, SmartFile and Smart Apply. Says Pidgeon with a smile, “It’s why we do what we do.”

Looking ahead to 2024, Pidgeon is optimistic. “It’s a great time to be an early-stage investor. Valuations will continue to shift lower and be more favorable to investors. Exit windows are expected to open up. Portfolio companies that survived 2023 are the ones with cash flow to carry them into the new year—there are no substitutes for profitability. Fortune favors the bold and patient. That’s definitely VisionTech.”

About VisionTech

Founded in 2009, VisionTech is a privately held company that links early-stage investors to high-potential, early-growth companies. Based in Indianapolis, VisionTech’s angel investing network includes more than 130 active members across Indiana and Ohio. As of December 2023, 215 VisionTech member investors have deployed more than $27.4 million in capital, investing in 71 portfolio companies from across the United States. Membership is open to accredited investors. Those interested in joining are encouraged to contact VisionTech.