Nebraska angel investment leader Laura McCoolidge Classen is the new managing director of Kansas City-based Mid-America Angels.
Classen, who most recently served for five years as the director of Nebraska Angels, succeeds Rick Vaughn, MAA’s founding managing director. Vaughn will continue working with MAA on a part-time basis.
“I enjoyed working with many colleagues in the Kansas City area during my time as director of Nebraska Angels,” Classen said in a release. “I look forward to strengthening those relationships in my new role and working closely with Rick to ensure our angel investors are well-served.”
In her time with Nebraska Angels, the investment network dished out more than $13 million in early-stage companies and doubled in membership. Classen is also credited with founding the Midwest Angel Syndicate, a monthly forum for Midwestern angel groups to improve their investment prospects, MAA said.
Meanwhile, the MAA will say goodbye to longtime director Rick Vaughn, who helped significantly grow the investment network. Under Vaughn’s leadership, the MAA network grew to over 165 members and has deployed over $26 million in private capital to early-stage firms.
Vaughn also led the network through a number of successful exits, including Zoloz (formerly EyeVerify), Zave Networks, Rush Tracking, Rhythm Engineering and Aratana Therapeutics. Most recently, Vaughn also helped expand the network to three regional chapters in St. Joseph, Topeka and Manhattan.
Vaughn shared high praise of Classen.
“We are very fortunate to have Laura join MAA,” Vaughn said. “She brings a great base of experience and is very well-suited to lead our investment network’s continued growth. I look forward to helping her with that effort.”
McCoolidge Classen arrives at MAA amid years of surging success. For at least two consecutive years, MAA posted record-breaking years of investing and big exits with Zoloz and Rhythm Engineering. In 2016, MAA invested $3.6 million via 15 deals, topping its 2015 totals of $2.8 million in nine investments, which itself topped 2014’s totals. While 2017’s figures are not yet available, MAA was on pace to beat its 2016 figures.
Classen’s investing prowess should help the MAA further its regional impact, said George Hansen, the executive director of MAA and CEO of the Enterprise Center in Johnson County.
“Laura’s background provides both the experience and the knowledge required to lead the angel network into a new period of expansion and her engaging personality is a perfect fit to facilitate membership growth,” Hansen said in a release. “We’re equally fortunate to have Rick’s continued participation for the foreseeable future. His knowledge and capability are extraordinary and over the course of his career with MAA and ECJC, he has proven an extremely valuable asset to our regional entrepreneurial community.”
The MAA funds startups in the Kansas-Missouri region, with an investment range of $250,000 to $1.5 million. MAA typically participates in seed, Series A and Series B rounds. Its portfolio firms include RiskGenius, Rawxies, Flow Forward Medical, MetActive Medical, Hillary’s Eat Well, Bulu Box and many others.