Connecting Emerging Aviation
Startups with Capital

2024 Virtual Pitch Event:
August 28

Who We Are

The UAS Angel Network is a collection of accredited individual investors, angel groups and seed funds focused on opportunities in the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) industry. Subsectors of interest include:
  • Drone Service Providers
  • UAS logistics
  • Airspace Management Systems
  • UAS Flight Safety Systems
  • Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM)
  • Droneports and Vertiports
  • Commercialization of New UAS Technologies
The UAS Angel Network is hosted by the UAS Cluster Initiative, which is funded in part through a Contract with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.


Craig Mahaney, Executive Director
Craig joined Development Capital Networks (DCN) in January 2022 as the Executive Director for the Unmanned Aerial System Cluster Initiative (UASCI) of Oklahoma and the nationwide DronePort Network. Prior to joining DCN, Craig served as Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor within the Federal Aviation Administration's Office of Aviation Policy and Plans.

In 2020 he was selected as a Georgetown University Capitol Hill Fellow where he served as a policy advisor and professional staff to Senator James Lankford (R-OK), subcommittee Chairman on the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

During Craig's sixteen years with the FAA he held numerous operational and management positions focused on Air Traffic Control, Traffic Flow Management, UAS, and Strategic Planning. Before joining the federal government, he spent five years in the U.S. Navy as an Air Traffic Control Specialist and completed multiple deployments to the Middle East.

Craig is a certified private pilot, graduate of the FAA's Aircraft Accident Investigation Course and has a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautics from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.
read more
Emily Bell, Program Director
Emily joined Development Capital Networks (DCN) in January 2023 and currently serves as Program Manager for the UAS Cluster Initiative (UASCI). In this role, she fosters growth within the unmanned aviation ecosystem in Oklahoma through connection to networks and capital.

Prior to joining DronePort Network, Emily spent 13 years in various at the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) in Washington, DC, ultimately serving as Senior Director, Professional Development before stepping into a consulting role, working on special projects. As Senior Director, Professional Development, Emily oversaw the full suite of educational offerings for the association, including the wildly recognized Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) certification. Before her work with IEDC, Emily served as a youth development volunteer in Ukraine with the U.S. Peace Corps, and as Grievance Director for the Cuyahoga County Bar Association in Cleveland, Ohio. She currently also is the Chief of Staff for Droneport Network, LLC.
read more


Robert Heard, Managing Director, Cimarron Capital Partners
Robert Heard is a Managing Director of Cimarron Capital and of Development Capital Partners (DCN), two affiliated firms with over 30 years of experience in development lending and equity investing. He is a pioneer in designing innovative programs that drive economic development by attracting capital and business-building talent to local economies. He frequently speaks on capital formation, portfolio optimization, technology transfer and state venture capital strategies. Robert has advised national development banks in Mexico and Colombia on building a venture capital industry and designing funds of funds. He has served on the advisory committees of numerous venture capital funds.

His leadership of DCN has included design and oversight of the Wyoming Smart Capital Network and North Dakota Red River Corridor Fund, both focused on development lending to small businesses under the US Treasury's State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). He helped launch the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Cluster Initiative for Oklahoma and Kansas, and the Droneport Network.

Robert is committed to building organizations that support the growth of the entrepreneurial economy. He was a founder of the National Association of Seed and Venture Funds (NASVF), the Latin American Venture Capital Association (LAVCA), and the WBT Innovation Marketplace. He was a Board member of CDFA for four years and provided guidance to the organization for 18 years through DCN association management services. He serves on the National Advisory Council of the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer.

Robert is an angel investor in technology companies and a member of Cowboy Technology Angels and the Houston Angel Network. His publications include the "Innovation Finance Reference Guide" authored with Jim Troxel for CDFA, an "Angel Investing Workbook" for NASVF, and the National Governors' Association study on "The Experience of States with Seed and Venture Capital" co-authored with Dr. John Sibert.

Robert has a B.A. from the University of Oklahoma and an MBA from Northwestern University.
read more
Christina Kappaz, Managing Director, Development Capital Networks
Christina has been a Director of DCN since its founding. She currently manages our business development and supports our work increasing access to finance for entrepreneurs and small business owners. She is a member of the investment committees for DCN's affiliated investment firm, Cimarron Capital Partners, for the NESsT Small Enterprise Loan Fund, and for the Colombian agriculture development bank Finagro.

Christina has 30 years of experience working in economic development, with a focus on entrepreneurship, job training, and venture capital. She led DCN and Cimarron teams in advising the governments of Mexico and Colombia on the development of their venture capital industries and the establishment of Funds of Funds designed to attract capital and business building talent to targeted regions. She was the founding Executive Director of the Latin American Venture Capital Association.

Christina started her career at the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank before working as a consultant, both independently and as a partner with Millennia Consulting. She recently worked with an international NGO, Youth Business International, that supports disadvantaged youth entrepreneurs.

Christina is fluent in Spanish. Her B.A. in Government is from Dartmouth College. She holds both an MBA and a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University.
read more

Anthony Maher, Entrepreneurial Lead for Startup Growth & Financing, University of North Dakota
Anthony Maher began as the lead for Startup Growth & Financing at UND in 2021. Anthony spent most of his career working with innovative startup companies in Silicon Valley.

At UND he currently leads efforts to launch and manage a startup fund for early-stage ventures; manages relationships with venture capital, angel, and institutional investors; develops startup accelerator programs; and supports Center programs via grant writing and fostering relationships with key organizational and government stakeholders.

He began his career working in corporate development in Munich, Germany for Siemens, a multinational publicly traded company. Based in Silicon Valley, he became a founding member of Mustang Ventures, the venture capital arm of the Siemens Communications Networks Group. Later, he led a global team of analysts at Siemens Venture Capital, the global venture capital arm of Siemens AG where his responsibilities included identifying, evaluating, and investing in early-stage venture-backed companies, as well as managing the global deal flow, portfolio review and investment process. Most recently he was active in providing strategic planning and growth consulting services for a diverse set of international clients in the technology sector.

Anthony received a B.A. from the University of Illinois at Chicago and an MBA with a concentration in Finance from Santa Clara University in the San Francisco Bay area.
read more

Jennifer (JJ) Snow, Venture Partner, Allied Ventures
Jennifer "JJ" Snow is a retired Air Force Intelligence Officer and current Venture Partner for Allied Ventures. Jen served as the Chief Technology Officer for AFWERX, the innovation arm of the U.S. Air Force, and the Chief Innovation Officer for SOFWERX and the Donovan Group at Special Operations Command. Jen served three combat tours with AFSOC, JSOC, SOCOM/NCR supporting operations across Afghanistan and Iraq and has held multiple leadership roles within the special operations and special mission unit communities.
read more
Delore Zimmerman, Co-founder, President & CEO of Praxis Strategy Group
An economic development strategist with more than 30 years of domestic and international experience, Delore works with local and regional economic development groups, technology-driven companies and universities to create innovative, technology-based economies.

He is the co-founder, president and CEO of Praxis Strategy Group and co-founder of Praxis Africa, a network of development professionals with a demonstrated commitment and capability to implement sustainable development in their home country and in cooperation with other affiliates throughout the African continent. Affiliates are currently located in Ghana, Liberia and Tanzania. Delore has received eight Small Business Innovation Research awards from the USDA to develop tools and practices that rural regions can use to build competitive communities in a global, networked economy and has advised regional development organizations in Wales, England, South Korea and Africa.

Delore holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of North Dakota and a doctoral degree from Pennsylvania State University, where his work focused on the mobilization of territorial-based alliances for economic development.
read more

Why We Exist

The Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) industries are accelerating the development of technologies and systems in the aviation and transportation sector in a way not seen since the 1930s. Traditional aviation business, manufacturing and workforce models are being re-imagined. The rapid expansion of the industry creates an environment not easily served by standard business development and capital resources. Start-Ups looking to take advantage of the UAS/AAM emerging markets are finding significant roadblocks as they seek to expand business and exchange knowledge. Much of this is due to the highly technical nature of the field and its relative market immaturity.

Access the Application Portal

Looking for funding, click below