Last Tuesday Sarah hosted the fourth of the networking events she’s putting on as part of her work for Angel Academe, the investor network she founded last year. For newcomers, Angel Academe is, in Sarah’s own words, “A community of professional women with extensive business experience who want to support tech entrepreneurs – as mentors, non-execs and angel investors.” This time out we were at Thomson Reuters‘ London HQ in Shoreditch, as TR have agreed to be one of the network’s key sponsors over the next year, along with the law firm Kingsley Napley.
The evening took the same format as previous events: an introduction from Sarah, a talk by an “inspirational angel” and three pitches from female entrepreneurs. And networking over drinks, of course.
After outlining AA’s mission and the situation it’s trying to address (in short, the dire like of female investors in tech firms – or generally, for that matter), Sarah took the opportunity to talk about the work the network has undertaken over the last year, which includes three large networking events (at Tech City HQ, UBS and the BBC’s newly re-opened Broadcasting House) and the setting up of an investor group, who currently have two substantial investments under consideration.
Sarah was followed by Cyndi Mitchell, Co-Founder and CEO of Logscape, experts in data analysis and visualisation. Cyndi gave a delightful talk, recalling how she had been an early investor in a friend’s scaling up of Foo Foo Fun Box, an initiative to help post-natal mums with pelvic floor health. What was refreshing about the story was that it showed how angel investment isn’t just for the super wealthy. Cyndi invested just £10k in FFFB, but this was enough to get it to the next level. Crucially, though, it wasn’t just cash she brought to the table; she was able to call on her massive personal experience as a tech entrepreneur to advise her investee.
The first of the evening’s pitches came from Anne Bruinvels, Founder at Px HealthCare (ie, “Personal Healthcare”). Anne talked about the Owise app, which gives people personalised healthcare solutions, initially focussing on breast cancer. A couple of things she said really resonated with me, and, I think, with many in the audience. “Those gathering anonymised health data should make it available for research”, something I’ve become acutely aware of watching the burgeoning Quantified Self movement. And she said that the company had started almost as a way of directly answering the question: “Is it possible to have a socially motivated business and make money?” She firmly believes, of course, that you can.
The second presentation couldn’t have been more different. Julia Grinham is CEO and Co-Founder of Upper Street, a service which allows customers to design their own shoes. Julia definitely pulled off an Angel Academe first, handing out boxes of some of these custom made shoes, which are plainly beautifully made and come exquisitely packaged. She talked about the huge potential in the custmomised clothing market and cited it as context for seeking to grow the company into a £3m firm in the near term.
Finally, Emma Obanye took the stage to talk about BuddyBounce, of which she is the co-founder. Buddy Bounce sets out to answer a key conundrum in the arena of social media marketing: brand owners (record labels, agencies, broadcasters and so on) might be able to lay their hands on a lot of stats, but in truth they don’t really know who their “superfans” are. Users of BB are able to aggregate all their existing social media activity in one space, allowing brands to interact directly with fans and rewarding superfan behaviour. The service is currently targetting the record industry and already has 20k active users, on effectively no marketing; it’ll be looking to other entertainment sectors once it’s proved its model in music.
So there you go. If you’d like a bit more detail on how the evening went, and what some of the key points made were, then look up the twitter hashtag #aanetworking. Sarah’s currently in Turkey, at meetings in Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir, where she is, among other things, talking about inward investment to the UK and, of course, female angel investment. I’m sure when she’s back she may have a few things to add about the event.