The Wolfpack Investor Network (WIN) is an initiative, which connects alumni investors with promising NC State-affiliated startup companies to facilitate angel investments. WIN investor-members are a group of approximately 110 investors (130 including investing partners) that make individual decisions regarding investment opportunities curated by WIN staff, with help from a WIN member screening committee. WIN members and sidecar investment vehicles have surpassed investing over $20 million into NC State-related startups since the network’s inception in December of 2016. During FY 2022-23, WIN invested over $3 million into portfolio company transactions screened by WIN staff.
Two WIN companies had liquidity events in FY 2022-23, resulting in returns for WIN members and sidecar funds, including the Seed Capital Endowment Fund at the university. One partial exit was from Second Nature (formerly doing business as Filter Easy) and one full exit was from Conductor Technologies, which was acquired by CoreWeave to strengthen its visual effects offerings. This marked the second fiscal year in a row that WIN had two positive liquidity events, resulting overall in three full exits and one partial exit to date. WIN engaged 12 MBA and STEM graduate students to perform due diligence on each company that presents to the membership. In addition, WIN had three undergraduate interns who were involved in the past year. To date, approximately 55 faculty members have aided in the WIN screening processes. In November 2022, WIN engaged a venture partner, Harbright Ventures, to help with company screenings, due diligence, and carrying out investment transactions. In addition to working with WIN portfolio companies and internal staff, students are now also able to work with and learn from a local venture capital firm. WIN portfolio companies drive innovation, job creation, and positive environmental impact in North Carolina and beyond.
Most WIN portfolio companies reported adding new employees to their teams in fiscal year 2022-2023, despite the tough economic impact from the COVID-19 pandemic. WIN estimates that over 600 jobs have been created within WIN portfolio companies since WIN’s inception in late 2016. NC State University, along with UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University have created the Triangle Venture Alliance to build a network of angel groups that will tap into each university’s alumni base and come together to invest jointly when there are alumni overlap within the startup company as well as shared interest in the investment opportunity. As of 2023, the Triangle Venture Alliance had invested over $85 million dollars into approximately 98 portfolio companies. In addition, WIN has aided four similar university angel groups as they prepared to launch their own networks. The University of Maryland, Arizona State University, Florida Atlantic University, and Indiana University have all contacted WIN for advice regarding the administrative, programmatic, and financial logistics of running an angel group and the WIN team has shared knowledge, experience and best practices. The WIN initiative is currently being housed in the Kenan Institute offices and KIETS Associate Director Raj Narayan serves as a member of the WIN Steering committee.