Baylor offers support through unique ‘Shark Tank’

The Baylor Angel Network (BAN) allows upperclassmen at Baylor to serve as analysts whom decide which small businesses receive funding. Photo courtesy of Baylor University.

By Greta Gould | Reporter

Baylor is home to hundreds of organizations which allow students to grow and learn by using their talents and interests. One of these organizations is the Baylor Angel Network (BAN). The organization is home to juniors and seniors who are selected to serve as analysts. They provide aid in the screening process of deciding which small businesses will be funded by the members of the angel network.

According to the Baylor Business School website, “the Baylor Angel Network is an investor network providing early stage capital to strong entrepreneurial teams with developed products or services and early customer traction.”

BAN has been around since 2009 and has continued to provide funding to small businesses which range from a wide variety of industries, the website said.

Madison, Ala. senior Yaskana Chalasani has been involved with BAN since his junior year among other organizations around campus.

“I learned about Baylor Angel Network when I was a freshman,” Chalasani said. “It felt like Baylor’s own version of ‘Shark Tank.’ What I enjoy the most about Baylor Angel Network is the stellar group I get to work with and learn from every day. These people are the best of the business school, and there’s so much to soak in from each one of them.”

BAN is made up of “Angels” who are required to go through an application process in order to assure that they are capable of “providing emerging companies with startup capital through direct, private investments,” the website said. They are also given the opportunity to give back to Baylor through guest lecturing in business school classes or mentoring students enrolled in the business school.

BAN works as a unit to analyze companies who are in need of funding. The angel network is comprised of “industry experts that might want to invest their money in you because they believe in you,” Chalasani said. They connect companies who are in their early stages to people who can help them grow as a company though advice and investment.

Students are given the opportunity their junior year to apply and undergo an extensive interview process in order to become junior analysts. Their job is to assist the senior analysts and the executive director in whatever they need throughout their first year and then move on to become senior analysts during their senior. According to the website, BAN student analysts are given the opportunity to be mentored by two angels in the network, manage a screening process and meet with entrepreneurs searching for funding.

“All of the screening, all the analysis of companies, picking the cream of the crop, is done by students,” Chalasani said.

Houston senior Caroline Krempa has also been involved in BAN since she was a junior.

“I’ve loved being challenged by the multifaceted issues surrounding start-up companies and gaining real world experience by working with the talented entrepreneurs,” Krempa said.

The Baylor Angel Network is something that is not commonly found on campuses, so it is another aspect that makes Baylor unique, Krempa said.

The current senior analysts include: Yasanka Chalasani, Austin MacLean, Matt Suski, Crane McGuckin, Meredith Corts, Caroline Krempa, Chris Moody, Evangelina Weins and Thatcher Townsend. The junior analysts are Alaina Huslig, Allison Pennington, Cara Lane Charlet, Chris Nunn, Claire McClelland, Ian Smith and Jeffrey Chang.

This unique experience is providing these students with experience working with industry experts, experience in determining if a company is worth investing in and exposure to real-world decisions.