Ark Angel Alliance's Grace Rains Sees Lucrative Ventures Waiting In the Wings

Ark Angel Alliance's Grace Rains Sees Lucrative Ventures Waiting In the Wings
Grace Rains, executive director of the Ark Angel Alliance
Grace Rains has led the Ark Angel Alliance, originally known as the Central Arkansas Angel Network, since it was founded in July. She has also served as director of operations of The Conductor in Conway since August 2019. Previously, Rains worked for the Conway Regional Health System as a physician recruiter and special project coordinator and as an office manager at Kangabloo Creative in Conway. 

Rains received her bachelor’s degree in health services administration and master’s degree in business administration from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway in 2016 and 2017, respectively. She is one of two Arkansas co-state coordinators of Global Entrepreneurship Week, which was held Nov. 16-22.

We hear complaints about the lack of capital for startups in Arkansas. Is that improving at all?

Capital access continues to be a huge barrier for entrepreneurs in Arkansas and across the United States. We know over 80% of venture capital is distributed to five regional clusters, all located on the East and West Coasts. It isn’t because all of the choice companies with the best potential for returns are located there. There are viable, untapped companies here in Arkansas and surrounding states that are scalable, high-growth and have the potential to be a lucrative investment. We’re working to identify these companies and connect them with active investors to improve capital access, while also showcasing the great investing opportunities we have here in the state to perpetuate those investments.

Is it possible for even people of modest financial means to make a difference for these companies with a small investment? And how would you define a small investment?

With angel investing, we’re governed by SEC accredited investor standards, which place strict guidelines on who can invest based on yearly income, net worth and other factors. We hope these standards will change to expand the investor pool. Investment minimums can vary depending on the deal. However, we see investments start as low as $10,000, and that can potentially go lower with the creation of a special purpose vehicle.

Could you explain why the Central Arkansas Angel Network was renamed the Ark Angel Alliance? How did that change come about?

From the start, we received significant interest in membership from across the state. We’re a relatively small state, so a regional approach didn’t match our intent or reflect our membership. We wanted to showcase that we were open to members and deals from outside of central Arkansas, so we rebranded to Ark Angel Alliance over the summer.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your operations?

We’ve continued a high operating cadence. Our members meet virtually every month and vet deals, pursue due diligence and invest via virtual platforms. The deal flow and investment interest have both remained steady throughout the pandemic, and we’ve continued to gain new members.

What else do you wish our readers knew about your organization?

Ark Angel Alliance membership doesn’t require an investment background or an understanding of angel investing. A huge part of our mission is to provide educational opportunities for first-time angel investors to increase their comfort level, as well as provide unique opportunities for our members with vast investing experience. We want to expose members to an exciting asset class that can also diversify their portfolio.