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Michael Brandy, Deseret Morning News
Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., speaking in Sandy Tuesday, said FundingUtah.com will make Utah's economy stronger.

Kim Hansen's search for $250,000 to jump start an audio magazine concept just got a little easier, thanks to the vision of one Utah entrepreneur.

In Utah, where business ideas seem to be falling from the sky, Paul Allen — founder of MyFamily.com — saw a need to connect those plans with money.

His answer was to launch FundingUtah.com, which unites the state's angel investing community with "men and women that want to create and build the next Evans and Sutherland, the next Novell," said David Bradford, co-founder of the Web site, during its official launch event Tuesday.

Angel investors are typically wealthy individuals who provide anywhere from hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars to start-up companies. Considered a risky investment, the upside is strong returns, where investors can earn more than 100 times their initial investment.

John Richards, associate director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Brigham Young University, said Utah's angel network is underdeveloped, with only two organized groups in Utah County and Weber County.

"There's a lot of people that could be angels in this community that aren't in an organized group," Richards said. "There should be a Salt Lake County-based organized angel group. Salt Lake County probably needs to have two or three angel groups."

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The question many Utah entrepreneurs ask, Allen said, "is where do we go for funding?" FundingUtah.com closes the gap, permitting businesses, like Hansen's Big Wave Productions, to present a plan online, where angel investors can take notice.

To date, Allen said, 66 investors and more than 150 entrepreneurs have registered on the free Web site. And with roughly $41 million in verified funds being dangled to new businesses, the site is certain to grow.

"My goal has been 200 to 300 angel investors using the site by the end of the year," Allen said, "and deals being funded every month."

Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. called FundingUtah.com a vehicle that would ultimately make Utah's economy stronger.

"You've got to remember that we in government don't create the jobs," Huntsman said. "All we can do is help to perfect and make competitive the environment in which you all work."


E-mail: danderton@desnews.com