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Do You Believe in Super Angels? An early-stage investor by any name can be just as useful to funding your business.

By Gwen Moran

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Angel investors--affluent individuals who invest in early-stage companies--have long been a staple in the world of business investment. But a new breed of so-called "super angel" investors is emerging.

This segment of investors, which includes individuals and early-stage funds, often forms groups to invest in a broader range of companies to mitigate risk. And their numbers are growing--up 40 percent from last year, according to a recent National Association of Seed and Venture Funds study.

They can be an important bridge over the "valley of death" in investment dollars: that gap between about $100,000, which often can be raised through friends and family investors, and several million, which is how much most VCs need to invest to generate returns large enough to sustain the businesses, says Jim Jaffe, president and CEO of the seed and venture funds association. Fifty-one percent of its survey respondents plan to invest more money in new companies than they did last year.

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