First Angels Ja makes first investment with DRT Communications — plans to invest in 5 start-ups this year

BY KARENA BENNETT Business reporter bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, April 24, 2015

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INVESTOR group First Angels Jamaica (FAJ) has inked its first investment deal with local start-up company DRT communications.


The deal will allow DRT communications, a company which has been in operations for seven years, to expand its current operations and in return forgo equity to the investors of FAJ. The investor group now plans on investing in another five companies by the end of the year.


FAJ, which is headed by Joseph M. Matalon, Sandra Glasgow and John 'JJ' Geewax, seeks to provide financing for young entrepreneurs in Jamaica and the Caribbean.


The other members of the group are Tyrone Nevada Powe, Sharon Roper, Keith Duncan, Mark Mahfood, William Mahfood Stephen Facey, Paul B. Scott, Melanie Subratie, Wayne Sutherland and Paul Lalor. Accountancy firm KPMG and law firm Hart Muirhead Fatta are associate members.


"We now have 13 target companies, five of which we hope to invest in by the end of the year," said Glasgow, who was speaking at the launch of FAJ on Wednesday. "First Angels doesn't actually do the investment, instead the investors meet with the applicants who pitch their ideas and they decide how much they want to invest in the companies."


Founder of DRT Communications Danielle Terrelonge reckons that her company, which pitched along with six other companies last September, was chosen for investment because of the sustainability of the business over the years, along with her willingness to take advice from the potential investors.


DRT Communications is a marketing communications agency, which also offers technology-driven media monitoring services. With funding from FAJ, Terrelonge has launched her media monitoring services, which tracks the number of times and in what context a business name is mentioned within the Caribbean.


Through the use of technology driven monitoring solutions, DRT is able to monitor all media types worldwide including radio, television, newspapers, social media and online sources. All this information is made easily accessible to clients, enabling them to properly analyse and improve their current marketing strategies, according to Terrelonge.


"The big thing for me was that I needed more funding to get the new business line up and running, but, more importantly, I wanted governance," she told the Jamaica Observer.


"I wanted to be compliant in every possible way and, like many small companies, I needed help in getting to that process. So having Angels, who I'm now going to be accountable to, was really the opportunity I needed. They want a certain standard and are willing to invest in me to take me to that place," Terrelonge added.


In explaining the process, Glasgow stated that entrepreneurs wishing to receive funding will submit their project or application to FAJ's website, which is then followed by screening of the prospects and meetings with the investors to determine if the venture is investible.


Applicants admitted to the programme will receive coaching on how to make a successful pitch and/or will participate in a one-day training programme. This is followed by an invitation for the entrepreneurs to pitch their business venture to the investors, who may either express interest or decline to invest in the companies.


If the venture is investible, the investors will then undertake due diligence which includes the issuing of a term sheet.


"The amount of money that is invested is dependent upon how much is being requested and the level of risk that each investor wants to take; there is no maximum or minimum amount. Angels can also co-invest with other networks, or syndicate the deal with others. We have also identified a local company who wishes to partner with us," Glasgow said.


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