Funding News

Canyon Angels to Fund Promising Start-Ups, Provide Hands-on Learning to GCU Students

Canyon Angels to Fund Promising Start-Ups, Provide Hands-on Learning to GCU Students

Aspiring Valley entrepreneurs will pitch their business ideas to angel investors at the Oct. 14th inaugural event of Canyon Angels, a new initiative led by Grand Canyon University’s Colangelo College of Business and its namesake, Jerry Colangelo.

The event will provide a forum for three local entrepreneurial teams to share their business plans with investors seeking opportunities to fund companies with high-growth potential. The entrepreneurs were selected from a pool of entrants by GCU business students, who evaluated each entrant’s strengths and weaknesses before making their recommendations.

“The Canyon Angels program will bring independent investors and promising start-ups together while nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit of GCU’s students,” said Randy Gibb, dean of the Colangelo College of Business. “At the heart of Canyon Angels is a commitment to developing the next generation of business leaders.”

Tim Kelley, Colangelo College of Business faculty member and former chair of the Thunderbird Angel Network, is leading operations and growth of the Canyon Angels, working collaboratively with Tucson’s Desert Angels, Phoenix’s Arizona Technology Investors and ASU’s Thunderbird Angels with the goal of increasing the number of angel investors in greater Phoenix while also raising the number and quality of investor opportunities.

“There are more than 140,000 people in the Valley with the net worth to invest in start-up businesses, and yet only 250 people actively fund entrepreneurial businesses,” Kelley said. “In a city as large as Phoenix, angel investment is a worthwhile and lucrative opportunity for investors and start-ups alike, and such investments will go a long way in growing and supporting our local economy.”

GCU business students are playing an important role in the operations of Canyon Angels, providing all preliminary due diligence on the entrepreneurial ventures along with marketing, organizing and promoting pitch events.

The 2015 Canyon Challenge, a Shark-Tank style event where teams of Grand Canyon University students compete for capital for start-up business ventures. Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon University

“Students are learning firsthand what it takes to pitch a business idea and secure capital,” Gibb said. “With access to such rich, experiential learning opportunities, it won’t be long before they are pitching business ideas to Canyon Angels.”

The inaugural event will take place from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 14 at Grand Canyon University Arena. Gibb hopes to build Canyon Angels to 75 independent investors and host four events each year. Potential investors who are interested in participating in the event may register at Start-up companies also can submit their business plans for review and possible selection for an upcoming Canyon Angels pitch event.

Canyon Angels grew out of the success of the university’s Canyon Challenge, an annual competition modeled after ABC-TV’s “Shark Tank” in which GCU student teams vie for cash prizes and an opportunity to win start-up capital. More than 70 teams entered the competition earlier this year, which awarded $15,000 to the event’s top finishers. Many Canyon Challenge contenders participate in the university’s popular IDEA (Innovation, Development and Entrepreneurship Association) Club and work year-round to prepare their business plans for the highly competitive event.

GCU also is establishing an investment fund to boost its west Phoenix neighborhood. The Lope Kingdom Fund will launch soon and provide funding to start-up businesses that agree to locate in the Canyon Corridor area and provide job opportunities for local West Valley residents.

For more information about Canyon Angels, visit

About Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University was founded in 1949 and is Arizona’s premier private Christian university. GCU is regionally accredited and emphasizes individual attention for both traditional undergraduate students and the working professional. GCU offers traditional programs on its growing campus, as well as online bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. The university’s curriculum fuses academic and clinical rigor with Christian values to prepare its students to be skilled, caring professionals.