Fort Worth angel network makes fourth investment

Members of the Cowtown Angels, a program of nonprofit technology incubator TECH Fort Worth, have invested $620,000 in Wisegate Inc., a private IT research service that provides senior information technology professionals with access to IT discussions, products and solutions. The latest investment, the fourth since the organization launched in September 2012, is the largest investment to date for the Fort Worth-based angel network. This is also the first investment where the Cowtown Angels network has been the lead investor group, involving three other large U.S. angel investor networks. “I see this investment as validation for our idea that there was a need for a local angel network,” said Darlene Ryan, executive director of TECH Fort Worth. “We believe that the Cowtown Angels program increases the amount of entrepreneurial activity here and helps the entire community.” The Cowtown Angels program connects local “angel investors” with companies in North Texas needing startup capital. According to the Angel Capital Association, an “angel” is a high net worth individual who invests directly into promising entrepreneurial businesses in return for stock in the companies. They must meet criteria set by the Securities and Exchange Commission for “accredited investors.” Generally, this includes individuals who have a net worth exceeding $1 million, not including their residences. TECH Fort Worth receives applications of companies who want to “pitch” to Cowtown Angels members at their monthly meetings, presents the qualified applicants to the Angels’ screening committee and helps companies selected by the screening committee prepare their presentations. Angel members decide individually whether they want to invest in a company. The Cowtown Angels members, which have now grown to 20, have invested $1,415,000 in four companies and currently have two more deals under consideration. In addition to Wisegate, members have invested: $345,000 in PerioSciences, which has developed a line of antioxidant oral care products; $125,000 in National Dental Implant, developing a non-surgical tooth replacement for non-functional teeth; and $325,000 in Inview Technology Corp., a developer of compressive sensing cameras. – Betty Dillard

Cornerstone Member credit unions of the Arkansas Credit Union League (ACUL), the Credit Union Association of Oklahoma (CUAOK), and the Texas Credit Union League (TCUL) are now part of a single cooperative organization, the Cornerstone Credit Union League. The membership of the Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas Leagues voted in favor of consolidating the organizations in April. The consolidation will become official July 1. “We are just so fortunate to have an extraordinary amount of talent and passion in all three organizations, and I’m confident in the future success of the Cornerstone Credit Union League,” said Paul Trylko, TCUL board of directors’ chairman. The transitional board of directors for the Cornerstone Credit Union League includes three directors from Arkansas, three from Oklahoma, and 12 from Texas, with some to serve one-year terms while others will serve two- and three-year terms, ensuring continuity on the board. Among the Texas members of the board of directors is Nancy M. Croix Stroud of First Class American Credit Union in Fort Worth.

Energy Plano-based ViewPoint Bank has formed a new energy lending group, hiring long-time energy banker Chris Parada as senior vice president (SVP) and managing director of energy finance to lead its effort. Parada will report to Michael Ansolabehere, SVP and managing director of corporate banking. The Energy Finance group will focus on providing senior debt financing to private and public oil and gas companies throughout the United States, with an emphasis on reserve-based transactions. ViewPoint entered the energy lending business in 2012 by focusing on participations with industry partners in club transactions, and currently has commitments in excess of $80 million. With the formation of this new group, ViewPoint will be focused on leading or participating in transactions within the energy industry. “While energy lending is relatively new to ViewPoint Bank, it’s not new to our commercial lending team,” said ViewPoint Bank President and CEO Kevin Hanigan. “We’re very pleased to have Chris Parada on board. He brings a deep knowledge of the energy finance business, as well as long-standing relationships in the industry.” Parada has 20 years of energy banking experience, most recently as SVP of energy lending with One West Bank where he was responsible for new business origination throughout the United States. Previously, Parada spent time with Societe Generale as managing director of energy finance, and served as SVP of energy lending for both BBVA Compass and Fortis Capital. A graduate of Texas A&M with a BBA in Finance, Parada began his energy banking career at Bank One in Dallas in 1993.

Taking to the air Consumers are quickly embracing the ability to handle their banking transactions from a cellular phone or tablet, according to a just released survey by Dallas-based SWACHA, one of the largest not-for-profit electronic payments associations in the country. The information from SWACHA’s 2013 “Consumer Insights Survey” was released in May at its inaugural Executive Leadership Payments Summit in Dallas. The 2013 study revealed that 33 percent of those surveyed now use mobile banking applications on a cellphone or a tablet, with 55 percent of those reporting they use a cellphone. This is a significant increase from the 20 percent of those who reported using mobile banking applications on a cellphone in 2011, and just 7percent in 2009. Additionally, 20 percent of those surveyed use a mobile banking application on their cellphone daily, and 45 percent of the surveyed use one at least once a week. “This is our third Consumer Insights Survey since launching the effort in 2009, and with each survey we receive new and insightful information to assist our industry in helping consumers looking to increase their use of electronic payment technologies,” said Dennis Simmons, AAP president and CEO of SWACHA. “This year’s results show many significant trends in this rapidly changing environment that we will continue to monitor, such as remote deposit capture, which is not only changing the way people interact with technology, but it’s also changing the way people interact with their banks, and it’s an adjustment the industry is welcoming.” The use of a mobile device to deposit checks was perhaps one of the most notable increases in the survey, with nearly three times as many people using a mobile banking application to deposit checks than reported doing so in 2011. Forty-six percent surveyed are now depositing checks with a mobile banking application, as compared to just 16 percent in 2011, representing a nearly 200 percent increase. The study also revealed a significant increase in the amount of respondents who plan to deposit checks in the future using a mobile device. While only 16 percent planned on using their mobile device to deposit a check in 2011, 25 percent of people now foresee themselves depositing checks remotely. Another notable find was that 86 percent of those surveyed use a mobile device to check bank balances and 35 percent use a mobile device to transfer money between personal accounts. There was also significant increases in bill payments from a mobile device increasing from 36 percent in 2011 to 41 percent in 2013, along with an increase in the transfer of money from personal accounts to others’ accounts from 26 percent in 2011 to 35 percent in 2013. “We know the future of banking is synonymous with mobile banking, and we must learn to grow and change as technology does, which is why we felt it important this year to start monitoring the use of tablet devices for electronic payments,” said Simmons. “In 2009 and as recently as 2011, tablets were just coming onto the scene. Today, they are everywhere.” In addition to trends in mobile banking, the survey revealed numbers and statistics on how consumers feel about the security of electronic payments, the usage of electronic payment to pay bills, and the current use of banks’ branch offices.

- FWBP Digital Partners -

Incubator board Gov. Rick Perry has appointed four members to the Product Development and Small Business Incubator Board. The board advises the Texas Economic Development Bank on the administration of the Product and Small Business Development funds. Patrick Lane of Fort Worth is president and owner of Lane and Associates. He is also owner of Lane Boot Company and Mozaic Company, and former vice president of E-commerce for Southern Enterprises Inc. He is also a member of the Partner Council. Lane received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas. He is appointed for a term to expire Feb. 1, 2019. Other board members are: Brett Cornwell of College Station, an associate vice chancellor of technology commercialization for the Texas A&M University (TAMU) System; David Margrave of San Antonio, chief administrative officer and general counsel for BioNumerik Pharmaceuticals Inc.; and David L. Miller of Abernathy, chief operating officer of Flat Wireless, owner of Synergy Home Care, and former vice chancellor of research and commercialization for the Texas Tech University System.

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