Early Stage Founders: Meet DEALS, a DC Native’s Angel Investment Network
native DC Darius Clear emphasized five characteristics when building the angel investor network he launched last year: dreams, entrepreneurship, ambition, lifestyle and sacrifice – Where OFFERS to shorten it.
These characteristics gave the name of OFFERS. Venture capital group, which Clair says is an early-stage investment network. He developed it to connect founders both to funding and to each other. Although her focus so far is on angels and startup founders, Clair likes to think of the entity as a community builder — not just an investment agency.
DEALS is industry-agnostic, Clair said, though he claims a particular fondness for sports tech and wants to see more funding in hospitality and Web3. Instead, the network primarily seeks to invest in founders from underrepresented communities who create something unique.
“We target underrepresented, diverse, early-stage companies — anything that has a disruptive idea and the potential to really disrupt the market and be really innovative,” Clair said. Technically. “Ideally, we’d like to catch them at, like, their seeds.”
So far, DEALS has onboarded seven angel investors into its network, deployed $50,000 in 2022, and launched three ongoing investment deals. He also holds monthly pitch calls with his network and has partnered with both AARP Innovation Labs and Advanced development.
Clair also hopes to support the founders with more than funding. He aspires to grow the network enough through 2023 to make it easier for founders to find the coach, CMO, technologist, or other role they need to drive their startup’s success.
While the venture capital group serves founders across the United States, Clair also wants to build a funding pipeline and community in DC specifically.
“There’s value in collaboration, there’s value in the collective working together,” Clair said. “But then, also in that, harnessing that power to really understand: how to streamline some of the headaches and the processes and the challenges for the people who are going to come up behind us, who have other ideas, so that those ideas aren’t not die on the table?
For founders looking to grow their startups, he suggests being really strategic in building relationships. Whether they’re with other founders, investors, or related industry connectors, he recommends not writing off opportunities just because they don’t seem worthwhile at the time. He noted that money shouldn’t be the only qualifier to determine the value of a relationship.
Opportunities, Clair added, don’t even mean they’re something for you and your business. Sometimes it’s about adding value to someone else.
“We have a saying that behind every opportunity is a relationship,” Clair said. “If you’re able to build those relationships effectively and efficiently, you never know what’s going to happen.”