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Five past recipients of the Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year award and strong supporters of the Cornell entrepreneurial community: (L to R) Red Bear Angel (RBA) member Kevin McGovern ’70; Robert Felton ’61; RBA co-founder John Alexander ’74, MBA ’76; RBA member Jeff Parker ’65, MEng ’66, MBA ’70; and RBA co-founder Harvey Kinzelberg ’67

Red Bear Angels: investing in innovation

Sam Sezak ’98 remembers the moment when he first conceived of Red Bear Angels (RBA). He was invited to serve as a judge at an Entrepreneurship at Cornell (eShip) event in 2012. “I gladly accepted, as I love to return to Cornell and stay connected to a place that is very near and dear to my heart,” he says.

RBA member Meghan Cross ’08 and venture capitalist Howard Morgan PhD ’68 at a pre-pandemic RBA event at Union Square Café.

Angel investing connects entrepreneurs with “angels” – experienced, successful and passionate investors who are eager to support them. At the time, angel groups were just taking off at some of Cornell’s peer institutions, and the eShip event included a panel discussion on this topic.

“The lightbulb went off,” Sezak says. “I was kind of amazed that no one had launched a Cornell angel group yet.”

Today, Red Bear Angels is an active community of more than 1,000 Cornell entrepreneurs and about 100 active investors. Over the past nine years, RBA has made 30 investments, including several “unicorns” – the industry term for investments that are now valued at more than $1 billion. These include Lyft and Trumid, as well as GrokStyle (acquired by Facebook) and Datalogue (acquired by Nike).

RBA connects Cornell entrepreneurs to a select network of alumni who are looking to invest in startups. RBA members include seasoned executives, investors and innovators who can offer founders advice, insights and capital across a breadth of industries. In return, RBA investors gain access to early stage, high-potential investment opportunities.

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