For the past 26 years, Talbert C. "Tarby" Bryant Jr. has sought to bring investors looking for high-growth business opportunities together with entrepreneurs seeking capital to grow their businesses at what he calls the "Gathering of Angels."
Bryant isn't making any spiritual angelic claims, but he said the pitch contests to angel investors over the years have helped fund more than 450 business ventures with early-stage equity investments ranging from $10,000 up to $12.5 million per project.
Bryant, who has worked as an entrepreneur, a finance professor, a business coach and angel investor, moved to Apison this spring and is bringing his "Gathering of Angels" to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga campus next week for investors to hear pitches from four promising startup businesses from across the nation. Bryant is planning on making such business pitch events a monthly occurrence at UTC's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Collectively, the projects funded from Bryant's events so far have pumped more than $40 million of seed and early-stage capital into the startup businesses to help grow their ideas and business plans. Bryant is the founder, chair and CEO of Sweetwater Capital Corp., which runs the Gathering of Angels. His wife, Vivian Bryant, is Sweetwater's chief operating officer.
In addition to the Chattanooga event next Wednesday, Bryant said he is also planning both online and in-person Gathering of Angels events in Las Vegas and Austin, Texas, and is considering other markets.
Bryant said the four companies making their pitch for capital at UTC next Wednesday "have been trained, prepped and scrubbed by me" in advance of their presentations. Each of the entrepreneurs, who pay $1,000 to make their pitch to the angel investors, will have 15 minutes to tell their story and business plans, followed by five to seven minutes of questions and answers and then another five to seven minutes of evaluation time from the audience.
"We're hopeful we'll have a good crowd of angel investors who will come, see something they like and, hopefully, make an investment," Bryant said in a telephone interview. "This is the first time for the Chattanooga Gathering of Angels, and we're hoping to have 25 to 35 angel investors in the room next Wednesday."
Bryant has previously conducted such "Gathering of Angels" in cities across the nation, including many events online during the pandemic. Wednesday's pitch night at UTC will be the first in-person gathering of angels in three years, Byrant said.
The Gathering of Angels was founded in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in October 1996 by Bryant as an economic development initiative.
The entrepreneurs selected to pitch for angel investments next week at UTC include:
— Adjuvant Behavioral Health, headed by Dr. Josh Myers in Austin, Texas. Myers is seeking funding to grow his cancer-specific psychotherapy business designed to reduce patient anxiety and health care costs incurred by the psychological problems from those diagnosed with cancer.
— Zoe Angling Group, which is a spinoff from Pivot by Jeff Coffey in Chattanooga, is seeking funding for its innovative fishing products to supply Walmart.
— Faith Portal, AI, founded by Paul Allen in Utah, uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to offer the largest collections of sermons, videos and topical papers for use by pastors, faith leaders and seminaries across the globe. Allen previously founded Ancestry.com.
— Flo Technologies, started by CEO Paul Roberson in Las Vegas, is an innovative 360-degree training harness replacing the traditional resistance bands to enhance personal exercise programs.
More information about Bryant's business and Wednesday's Gathering of Angels is available online at www.gatheringofangels.com.