Here’s a cross-posting from our sister Angel Academe blog.

On December 28th we held the second of our AA North sessions, exploring ways in which we might expand into the North West and bring together a group of local women investors (well, mostly women). The event was generously hosted by The Landing in their beautiful 7th floor room overlooking Media City UK at Salford Quays and chaired by our good friend Gaynor Dykes. Attendees came from finance, law, the startup sector and healthcare — an eclectic group whose engagement across the afternoon highlighted the real opportunities here.

Gaynor (l) and Sarah (pic: Maya Dibley)

Sarah kicked of the afternoon with a brief introduction to Angel Academe’s work, outlining everything we do before going on to spell out the opportunity for potential investors.

Simon (pic: Maya Dibley)

Self-confessed serial investor Simon Thorpe was up next. An accountant by training, Simon has been angel investing for 8 years, and is principally interested in the tech space. He’s also invested in an unusually high percentage of women-founed companies. He pointed out that the previous week both the Chancellor and Shadow Chancellor had been talking about the importance of the digital technology sector in the UK — at last! Simon talked through some of the lamentable diversity figures in the sector that regular readers will be all too familiar with, including that just 15% of European startups have a female founder and less than 3% of VC-backed companies have a woman CEO.

Simon talked about what he looks for in potential investments: defensible IP, a great idea, a great team, a sound business model and robust financials. But in the end he’s mostly looking for a visionary founder with total belief and commitment.

Then we had chance to look at the situation from the point of view of a female founder. A trained phamacist and oncologist, Clare Nolan has founded her own company, Tomorrow’s Medicines & with the aim of giving serioiusly ill patients faster access to clinical trials. Clare was entirely new to the world investment when starting up and has had something of a baptism of fire. Ultimately angel investment has played a significant role in growing the company, alongside a smattering of grants and a fund investment. Clare was keen to point out that of course such an investment route comes with caveats and dangers. Some investors are relatively hands off, but others can be demanding and struggle not to interfere; the key as an entrepreneur is to know when to push back. She also pointed out that being a female entrpreneur in technology could still be a lonely place to be.

We finished the afternoon with a lively and open discussion about next steps and opportunities. Many thanks again to Maya Dibley at the Landing, and to Simon, Gaynor and Clare for speaking. We look forward to being back in the New Year.