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Are you an entrepreneur?

At the Academy Investor Network, we invest in venture backable startups at the Seed stage.

The world's a stage, and on our stage, the entrepreneur is the star. We work for the entrepreneur and are hyper-focused on funding and supporting our startups. We commit to leveraging our time and expertise from our network to help your startup.

FAQ

You Asked, We Answered

Who can invest?

Only Service Academy graduates can invest. We will accept accredited and, when feasible, non-accredited investors.  To determine feasibility for non-accredited invested, we will look at such factors as, without limitation, the number of total investors, the amount being invested, the marginal costs of additional legal compliance, the willingness of the target company to accommodate non-accredited investors, the willingness of a non-accredited investor our educational programming.

What is a "venture-backable" startup?

A company that is scalable and is more than a feature or product. The company needs to be a standalone entity that can build, support, and defend its customer base on an ongoing basis.

The company must demonstrate the ability to build a sustainable company with a product line sufficient enough to grow to $100M in revenue or return 10x our money in a 7-year timeline.

Who can receive investment?

Veteran-led startups where a veteran owns greater than 10% equity. Any civilian-led startups in the GovTech/Defense Tech space.

Please note that veteran-led startups can be in any space, they do not have to be in the GovTech/DefenseTech space.

How do you join the platform as an investor?

You need a referral from two fellow Service Academy graduates

Does it cost money to be a part of the syndicate?

No, participation in the syndicate is free. The only requirement is that you are a Service Academy graduate. You must be referred by two syndicate members to be accepted into the syndicate.

Are there any fees associated with investing?

Yes, we expect to share syndicate fees amongst our participating syndicate members. Filing fees range from $5K - $10K per investment. We will share these among all syndicate members. Our mission is to keep these fees as low as possible.

Will we receive Pro Rata Rights?

When an AIN SPV invests, we will use commercially reasonable efforts to obtain Pro Rata Rights to invest in future rounds for the SPV.

However, all SPV participants must waive their right to participate in such future rounds and allow AIN management to determine how best to utilize those rights.  This is not to say that, where feasible, we would not allow SPV participants to participate in such future rounds, but rather, than we need maximum flexibility as we launch our platform.

As a syndicate member do you have to invest in every deal?

No, you can invest in deals on a case-by-case basis.

As a syndicate member can I see every deal?

Yes, you can see every deal. You must request access within a specific time frame to see a deal. 

If you are granted access to the deal room, we ask that you are professional in the diligence process.

Potential investors should be aware that an investment in AIN Management involves a high degree of risk.  There can be no assurance that AIN Management’s investment objectives will be achieved, or that an investor will receive a return of its capital.  Potential investors should consider, among other things, the factors set forth below in determining whether an investment in AIN Management is a suitable investment.  

Risk Inherent in Venture Capital Investments.  The types of investments that the AIN Management anticipates making involve a high degree of risk.  

Management may not have opportunities to make suitable investments.  The AIN Management may be unable to identify Securities complement its strategy even if it identifies appropriate opportunities,

Management may be unable to obtain maximum value for its investment interests.  The AIN Management intends to hold positions in non-public companies which are generally illiquid investments.  The realizable value of the AIN Management’s interests may ultimately prove to be lower than the carrying value reflected on its financial statements.

Competition.  The AIN Management expects to encounter competition from other entities having similar investment objectives. 

Success could be impaired by valuations placed on companies in the target industries by the financial marketplace.  Securities markets, in general, and technology-based stocks, in particular, have experienced periods of significant volatility

General economic conditions.  General economic conditions may affect the activities of the AIN Management.  Interest rates, the price of marketable securities and participation by other investors in the financial markets may also affect the value of securities purchased by the AIN Management or considered for purchase.  Potential investors should realize that the AIN Management may not make distributions due to general economic conditions, illiquidity of portfolio investments, contractual prohibitions, or other reasons mentioned above.

Nature of private investments.  Investment in the AIN Management requires a long-term commitment, with no certainty of return.  

Illiquidity of investment.  Investment in private companies involves extreme business and financial risks and can result in substantial or total loss.  Investment in the AIN Management requires the financial ability and willingness to accept significant risks of illiquidity.  

Importance of key management.  The success of the AIN Management will depend on the ability of management.

Lack of operating history.  Although the managers of the General Partner and the Management Company have prior experience relating to the financing of companies and in investments similar to those to be made by the AIN Management, the AIN Management itself has no operating history.

We will try to ensure that all AIN members receive the same information regarding a potential investment.  Nobody should get preferential treatment or information on an investment.

For each deal, there will be a data room for each company. This data room contains the following:

  1. Company presentation

  2. A video of the company presenting itself a Q&A session with AIN staff and the deal terms.

At times, AIN will analyze certain topics about the company. Then, we will post this information to the company's deal room.

We set up Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) for each investment.

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Investing to Impact Our Future

Our syndicate consists of graduates from the five U.S. Military Service Academies that invest alongside us and help us with deal-sourcing, vetting and providing post-investment support to our companies

Membership Requirements

01.

Must be a graduate from one of the 100% publicly financed Service Academy Institutions: USNA, USMA, USAFA, USCGA, USMMA.

02.

Participation in the syndicate is by invitation only. Two current members must refer you

03.

Syndicate members may participate in AIN as their interest and time permits

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AIN Member Benefits

Co - Invest

The ability to co-invest in exceptional, best-of-breed startups and receive AIN Management analysis on each of these startups

Refer Startups

The opportunity to refer startups to the AIN team and receive an extra % share in the carry pool, beyond your investment amount, should AIN make an investment in the startup you refer

Advisory & Hiring Opportunities

Connect with high performing startups for potential advisory or team (hiring) opportunities

Expand Network & Attend Exclusive Events

Expansion of your professional network amongst Service Academy graduates as well as the Tech / Innovation Ecosystem.

Attend exclusive events connecting the AIN community, DOD and Government leaders, tech industry leaders, and our portfolio companies

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Become an AIN Member
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Turn Your Dreams Into Reality

Get Funding

HOW WE INVEST

We syndicate capital from our members invest it via Special Purpose Vehicles into companies so that we represent one line item on the cap table

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NETWORK

We make actionable introductions and provide guidance on navigating obstacles. We commit to being responsive to your needs. Our syndicate members understand hard work and perseverance, and we will leverage this to help your company succeed

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IMPACT

Your startup must either be dual-use technology-focused (founder does not have to be a veteran) or military-veteran-led (industry agnostic). We are looking for industry changing startups led by innovative founders who are not satisfied with the status-quo and are willing to put in the time and commitment to change things for the better

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How Do We Help?

APPLICATION PROCESS

  • We will review your application and inform you if we decide to move forward or not within a three-week time frame from the date of submission.

  • If we decide to move forward, we will take two weeks to prepare your deal to go onto our platform and alert our syndicate members that the deal is up for consideration.

  • After acceptance, we will host a 1-hour video teleconference presentation. Thirty minutes of which will be a Q&A from our syndicate members.

  • Post teleconference, we will give our syndicate members two weeks to decide if they want to invest.

  • Our goal is to fund your company within four weeks after deciding whether to consider your deal.

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Academy Investor Network Resource Hub

Our AIN Resource Hub includes a list of organizations, tools, articles, and platforms for entrepreneeurs and investors.

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BLOG

Our content will help our members become smarter investors and provide our startups with the best information possible.

By Sherman Williams |  September 1, 2021

Authored by: Richard Tippit, Geoffrey Yang, Ryan Chen, and Ashley Sogge. The Academy Investor Network conducted a study on dual-use technology companies that have successfully raised over $5M of investor funding. By analyzing 500 dual-use companies, the study reveals patterns amongst these dual-use technology companies that may inform the reader of what to look for […]

By Sherman Williams |  February 1, 2021

By Sherman Williams Venture capital (VC) is fundamentally about investing in future innovation. There can be several catalysts that fuel this innovation. Still, I believe it is most important to consider a company’s ability to change consumer behavior, whether the consumer is an individual or a business. In 2020, COVID-19 significantly changed consumer behavior and […]

By Sherman Williams |  September 1, 2020

Academy Investor Network Educational Newsletter Authored by: Erik Hoffstadt, Edward (E.J.) Leo, Ashley Sogge & Brian Hwang The following storyline is meant to be illustrative of venture math principles. We will follow the lifecycle of a fictional early-stage venture in order to highlight some of the most common investment vehicles and provisions such as SAFEs, […]

By Sherman Williams |  August 1, 2020

Authored by: Erik Hoffstadt, Edward (E.J.) Leo & Ashley Sogge The simple truth is that most people, including veterans, are not very savvy when it comes to investing. There might be a few people in a given wardroom who understand the difference between the C-Fund and G-Fund or the tax advantages of a Roth IRA […]

By Sherman Williams |  July 15, 2020

Authored by: Erik Hoffstadt, Edward (E.J.) Leo & Ashley Sogge If we told you that you were in a “CBDR situation with a merchant one thousand yards off the port bow,” anyone with a naval background should recognize danger. However, a U.S. Army Ranger might not think twice. Within the broader military community, each branch […]

By Emily McMahan |  July 1, 2020

The Academy Investor Network’s (AIN) mission is to invest in top-tier startups while also exposing service academy graduates to the venture asset class, usually only available to accredited investors (high net-worth individuals). Our team recognizes venture investing can be challenging to navigate and unnecessarily exclusive. For service academy graduates new to investing, AIN is demystifying […]

By Sherman Williams |  June 24, 2020

The Academy Investor Network (AIN) is an investment syndicate of service academy graduates (SAG’s) from the five 100% publicly financed U.S. Military Institutions. AIN’s mission is to expose SAG’s to the venture asset class, while ensuring startups that fit within our thesis receive funding, guidance and mentorship. AIN’s investment thesis is to invest in i) […]

By Emily McMahan |  July 1, 2020

Sherman Williams (USNA ’03) and Emily McMahan (USMA ’01) are proud to announce the launch of the Academy Investor Network (AIN). We are a team of U.S. military service academy graduates with extensive experience in venture investing, finance, and entrepreneurship. Our aim is to enable fellow service academy alumni to invest in high-growth startups. We […]

By Sherman Williams |  May 27, 2020

What is the Academy Investor Network: We are a diverse team and mission-driven group of U.S. Service Academy Graduates (SAGs) with experience in early stage startups, venture capital, the veteran venture ecosystem and M&A. Our team is solving the problem that many military veterans often face, accessing venture capital funding. Academy Investor Network Values: Be bold. Be honest. […]

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A.M. Money

ABOUT: A.M. Money is a student loan company that offers a healthier approach to financing higher education. Their mission is to ensure that financial challenges do not prevent students from completing college and pursuing their careers

STAGE: Seed-stage

Daniel Rogers (Founder)

U.S. Army Veteran

Moth + Flame

ABOUT: Provides immersive Virtual Reality learning experiences to enterprise scale customers across a range of verticals  

STAGE: Seed Stage SaaS Company

Kevin Cornish (Founder)

Polco

ABOUT: Provides local governments with single, reliable, safe and digital platform for seeking and providing public input through polls and surveys. 

STAGE: Seed Stage SaaS 

Nick Mastronardi (CEO)

U.S. Air Force Veteran

SanityDesk

ABOUT: B2B all-encompassing SaaS platform for the solopreneur

STAGE: Pre-Seed B2B SaaS company

FOUNDER: Veteran-led company

Sam Cook (Co-Founder, CEO)

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Our Portfolio

Our Values

We are a mission-driven organization, and our mission is to serve:

  • Service Academy Graduates (SAG) 

  • Entrepreneurs

We aim to reduce the friction points for

1) SAGs to invest in startups, and 2) friction points that enable entrepreneurs (veteran-led, industry-agnostic, and civilians focused on building Dual-Use Tech startups) to receive investments

Our number one objective is to get entrepreneurs funding and help their companies grow. 

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info@academyinvestor.com

Tel: +1 3125324307

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