My friend and founder of the Tech Coast Angels (TCA), one of the largest angel investment groups in the nation, died at the age of 70 on Thursday at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange County.
Luis Villalobos received a degree in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and in 1963 graduated from Harvard Business School. His education and sheer unadulterated talent combined made him a visionary in the angel investment community. Luis had a vision for Orange County, which was to create a network of sophisticated investors that would invest in early stage companies and help usher them into growth. His primary focus was to innovate and invest in “Big, Game Changing, Ideas”. He started Tech Coast Angels in 1997 and was its first president. There are now five TCA chapters spanning from Santa Barbara to San Diego with more than 250 active angels in its membership. Since its establishment, TCA has directly invested over $100 million into its portfolio companies. Those companies have gone on to raise over one billion dollars in cumulative capital.
Luis played a key role and lead the charge in TCA, making 57 personal investments. During these investments, Luis was dedicated to mentoring and coaching the entrepreneurs and managers he believed had the potential to make it in the business. One of Luis’s final investments was his investment in my company Big Stage Entertainment. It took Luis all of 30 minutes to make his decision. He agreed to not only invest, but also proceeded to champion our company through the TCA screening process. After a successful campaign through the TCA process, Luis was invited and ultimately joined our board of directors and took on a key role in helping Big Stage attract funds from Mission Ventures and Selby Ventures. Over the course of 3 years, Big Stage Entertainment raised over 10MM in Angel and Venture Capital.
From the first meeting I had with Luis, he became my biggest critic and ultimately my biggest champion. I will always remember our lunches, filled with plain speaking and the blunt and honest truth. If I could thank him, I would have thanked him for always being stand up and forward about my shortcomings. Luis’s blunt honesty and open criticism truly has made me a better entrepreneur, businessman, and most important of all, a better person. The loss of a friend and treasured colleague is always difficult, however in these unfortunate situations I believe it is important to hold your head high in celebration for the life of their dear friend. A part of him will continue to live on through the lives he changed during his time one earth.
Luis Villalobos, Angel investor, visionary technologist, philanthropist and most of all, my mentor, board member, and my friend.
He is survived by his wife Ora Zoe Villalobos and his dear sister, Olga Badia. They remain in my thoughts throughout this very difficult time.