For 34 years, Purdue graduate Terry Schlotterback applied his knowledge and energies to the orthopedic device industry. When he retired in 2006, Terry was running Zimmer’s Spine and Trauma Division and had a wealth of industry experience under his belt. Exploring his options, he decided to join VisionTech Angels (then Stepstone Angels) despite no prior experience with angel investing.
“I wasn’t really sure what I was doing at first,” he said.
“I was attracted to the investment philosophy of an entire group looking at the same deal from different industry perspectives. I was also attracted to the fact that VisionTech Angels is based in Indiana and makes investing in Indiana startups a priority. After the success I’ve enjoyed with an Indiana-based global company (Zimmer), I wanted to give back to young companies,” he continued.
Part of his role as VisionTech Angels’ Warsaw chapter president is member recruitment, recognizing that the risks and rewards are not for everyone. Warsaw now has 15 members, including other former orthopedic industry executives. When meeting with prospective members, Terry is quick to offer three key pieces of advice.
“If you enjoy active investing and want to manage part of your portfolio, angel is investing is a great choice. If you enjoy serving as a business advisor to early stage companies, angel investing is for you. Finally, be prepared to lose your money. Angel investing is high risk, high reward, you must be prepared to lose your money. Angel investing is a numbers game, and you should not risk your retirement fund or any funds you can’t afford to lose.”
All angel-investing groups are not created equal in Terry’s eyes. Some are led by one or two individuals who make all of the decisions. This is not the case with VisionTech Angels.
“Oscar Moralez and Don Scifres—the group’s managing director and managing partner respectively—are facilitators and investors; they do not advise or recommend investments. We have members who are knowledgeable in software, health care and other industries, and we lean heavily on our members to vet deals. It increases investors’ confidence knowing many others in our investment group have reviewed the deals,” he explained.
Terry has invested in eight of VisionTech Angels’ portfolio companies, but has yet to have a successful exit. With only one failure, he is optimistic about his chances. “All of the deals I’m in are active and moving forward,” he said with optimism.