These guys have been investing in innovation for more than a decade.
I've been spending some time lately with the Pasadena Angels, a group of "angel" investors with a decade of experience in the early-stage venture capital space (really, more than that) and an admirable track record. I also quite like their motto: "It's more than money." In practice, this means that the Pasadena Angels — a group of individual investors working together in Southern California — provide mentoring in the same measure as financing to startup companies.
Entrepreneurs obviously need access to money. But they also need advice, guidance, and at times, a total rethink.
From what I've learned, the Pasadena Angels put young companies, some 300 per year, through their paces. Unlike notorious "pay to pitch" angels (a cadre that seems to be fading away), they're set up as a nonprofit, charging no fees for the opportunity to present business plans to their membership. I joined them a few weeks back for a culminating stage of this process, a breakfast pitch session where several entrepreneur finalists made their cases.