Maverick Angels goes international

Thousands Oak, Calif.-based Maverick Angels has partnered with Intesa Sao Paolo, Italy’s largest bank, and is starting a new angel network based in Milan.

Maverick President John Dilts said the angel group has been looking for ways to partner with large corporations that want faster access to startups.

A lot of corporate venture arms got burned in the tech bubble and pulled back on investing in startups, and now they’ve fallen behind, he said.

“Historically, angel networks have been loose-knit, like the Rotary Club, where everybody pitches in a few hundred bucks, somebody’s in charge of the speaker, you hope it’s somebody good, nobody spends a lot of time or effort and everybody goes home,” he said. Dilts founded the group three years ago soon after leaving the Keiretsu Forum.

“But the economy is changing dramatically at the same time that business cycles are shortening and new opportunities are coming up faster. VCs are calling us—there are mid-level venture capital vehicles investing at the early stage—and the corporate model is changing.”

Maverick has tried to bring more structure to angel investing, Dilts said, partly by holding mandatory boot camps that train entrepreneurs on how best to present their companies and create a strategy for growth. The presentations are also filmed and posted on AngelLink, an internal online network available to entrepreneurs and Maverick’s investors.

Maverick and Keiretsu are two of the angel groups targeted by investor Jason Calacanis for charging fees to entrepreneurs, but Dilts maintains that quality angel groups cost money to run. Maverick’s boot camp, which has already been held once in Italy, costs $495 per person and is offered to entrepreneurs who’ve made it through Maverick’s screening process. Applying to present to Maverick is free. —Deborah Gage