A new angel investor network is now open near the Interstate 10 corridor at the gateway to the Texas Hill Country. The Boerne Kendall County Angel Network or BKCAN is “a community of angels focused on making Boerne and Kendall County visible to entrepreneurs and business leaders looking to find a home for their next venture,” said Justin McKenzie, CEO of the new investor organization.
Officially launched in early 2021, the network’s 20 members have been seeing a healthy deal flow unique for an angel network at this stage, according to McKenzie. A manager of energy services at the Bandera Electric Cooperative, a longtime advocate for entrepreneurship and innovation, and a Texas native, McKenzie has been working with like-minded business leaders to highlight the region’s strengths on a global stage for economic development.
“Our citizens are the region’s greatest asset, with many leaders from Fortune 500 companies, innovators creating the latest biomedical and healthcare solutions, and entrepreneurs redefining agriculture in today’s digital world,” McKenzie said. “Rural America is seeing new interest from companies who are looking to exit large dense city centers for a better quality of life for their employees.”
According to numbers released by the U.S. Census Bureau, Kendall County, situated on the booming Interstate 10 corridor just north of San Antonio, continues to attract new residents from elsewhere in Texas and from out of state. Kendall County’s population has grown by nearly 37% since 2010, rising by more than 12,000 residents. Almost all of that increase was due to new residents moving to the area.
BKCAN is designed as a nonprofit economic development organization that happens to have an investment portfolio. Their portfolio is focused on advertising tech, healthcare tech, and other types of tech startup companies. However, their mission goes beyond angel investment.
BKCAN members also support Boerne High School’s business incubator program, which gives students the entrepreneurship experience of starting a business or developing a product during the school year with help from community mentors and experts. Many of the BKCAN network angels are in the same position as McKenzie, interested in building a place where adult children can return and work in thriving careers.
“Our local community is positioned to impact the local post-COVID economy by investing in big ideas and reigniting existing businesses locally, across Texas, and in the U.S.,” McKenzie said. “But we also wanted to build an entrepreneurial community that would attract high-quality jobs of the future to Boerne to stop the exporting of talent.”
Part of what’s fueling the Texas Hill Country’s rapid growth are businesses migrating from larger cities to tap into the talent and lifestyle a smaller neighboring community like Boerne can offer. Benefiting from its proximity to both San Antonio and Austin and accelerated by pandemic-triggered remote working, Kendall County has catapulted onto the list of desired places for businesses to relocate.
It’s not just existing companies taking advantage of the migration to picturesque rural areas with lower costs of living. The pandemic-influenced changes have also created a lower barrier to entry for new businesses as well. The idea for the Boerne Kendall County Angel Network came early in the pandemic to leverage this window of opportunity.
“We needed a ‘build your own’ entrepreneurial culture here, so we designed this angel network to help build an entrepreneurial foundation here in Boerne. There’s some great innovation happening here in Boerne that we want to shine a light on,” McKenzie said.
BKCAN works strategically with the Boerne Kendall County Economic Development Corporation and Boerne Chamber of Commerce to increase access to upcoming growth in the market for the benefit of both angels and prospective businesses.
With BKCAN teams working already with educators to help students learn entrepreneurship, the next step is developing more area co-working spaces and supporting them with initial operating costs as needed to get new locations started.
“We have leaders who we want to help drive economic development for our region,” McKenzie said. “The angel network can represent more than investment.”