Jim Pendleton has been an entrepreneur for most of his life and knows
starting a business takes "long hard work and hours with limited capital."
He believes entrepreneurs are the "backbone of our nation," so he and a small group of local business owners have joined forces to help others. Pendleton is president and chairman of the Tyler Texas Angel Network, a group of seasoned entrepreneurs looking to invest in start-up companies that are struggling for funding.
Pendleton, 73, has owned a natural gas equipment company for 40 years, following in the entrepreneurial footsteps of his father, an electrical contractor. He grew up in Dallas and studied engineering at Southern Methodist University before moving to Tyler about 30 years ago.
Pendleton said he has done four or five start-up companies, and they are an "absolute nightmare struggle."
Now after decades of owning a business, he wants to help others starting a company.
Made in America
I wanted to give back and find a similar entrepreneurial business that could benefit from our experience and funding," he said. "I think entrepreneurs are what made America great. ... My desire is to make a contribution to continue that."
Pendleton believes the network can be an asset to East Texas by bringing in new jobs.
"There is a plethora of opportunity lying in the woods out there of entrepreneurs with ideas and product lines that need funding," he said. "That's where (the network) can be such an asset to these people."
He said there always are people with good ideas, but they might not necessarily know the path to bring it to the market place or don't have the funding to do so.
East Texans who want to start a business, or who have started a company but are struggling for capital and don't know where to go after hitting a brick wall with investment money, are prime candidates for the network.
Pendleton said they are looking for start-up companies or small businesses that have exhausted their funds, as well as money loaned by friends and family, and who cannot get bank loans or venture capitalists to invest.
Tom Mullins, president and chief executive officer of the Tyler Economic Development Council, said he has seen the need for early stage financing for start-up companies in Tyler for years.
"At some point in the history of any company, it was a start-up," Mullins said. Tyler Pipe, which for a long time was the area's largest employer, began with a technology developed in someone's garage in Tyler, he added.
Mullins said it is important to try and support business development in every phase, starting with early stage funding, which is the most risky part of the funding process.
"Until the angel network started, we didn't have that piece missing in the continuum," he said.
Pendleton said they are looking for entrepreneurs to come to the group with a business plan and prove it is a marketable product, as well as prove that they have the capability to take it to the market place and to manage the company. Their purpose has to be taking the investors out of the company within three to five years, through a merger, acquisition or IPO (Initial Public Offering), Pendleton said, adding that they are not looking for long-term investments.
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