Archives for posts with tag: female entrepreneurs

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.

Agenda Oct13

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.

Cyndi Mitchell

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.

Anne Bruinvels

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.

Julia Grinham2

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.

Buddy BounceFinally, 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.

Tuesday saw the second in a series of events under the banner of Angel Academe, the network I launched last September. AA is a community of professional women interested in supporting tech entrepreneurs – as mentors, non-execs or angel investors. Tuesday’s event was very generously hosted by UBS and it was a packed evening. It was a packed room too, whose make up achieved something I was aiming for – a reversal of the usual gender balance at most tech and startup events.

I briefly introduced the network and the evening, before handing over to our 2 inspirational angel investors.

Marianne Abib-Pech is the Founder of Sylar ltd, a boutique advising and fund raising firm and sits on the board of several VC funds. She gave a wonderful presentation, talking (without slides or notes) about her personal experiences and adventures, moving as she has from the corporate boardroom to the role of angel investor, writer and entrepreneur. “Start a business in what you know and understand,” was one of her choicest pieces of advice. She also noted that “there is a special place in Hell for women that don’t help other women”. (I think Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State under Bill Clinton, was the source of this quote.)

Maria Dramalioti-Taylor is a Managing Partner at Geneva-based x.Million Capital Ventures, focusing on digital media, and founder of Angellab in London. She gave a detailed presentation on the “10 non-textbook rules for entrepreneurs and angels,” (see slides below) written from the point of view of a VC who’s seen it from the other side. Among her rules which resonated for me were, “Only sell shares when you need SPEED” and “know your place in the funding spectrum”. She also left us with the observation that the Internet of Things presents a fantastic investment opportunity.


Marianne and Maria went on to take questions together and were quite a double act!

double act

We then had 3 pitches from 3 very different business.

Amber Brown introduced Upfront Analytics, which gathers very detailed awareness, sentiment and behaviour data as consumers play on their highly engaging mobile games.

Gerlinde Gniewosz talked about  KO-SU, an innovative mobile learning platform for anyone who wants to teach and learn via mobile devices. Ko Su are one of 6 companies in the first BBC Worldwide Labs programme.

And Hatty Fawcett talked us through Seek & Adore, an online marketplace for designer makers, curated by a highly experienced craft and retail team.

Finally, we had a shout out from Sophie Muir of Thin Cats London Sponsors, providing debt solutions to small and medium businesses and good investment opportunities for investors also.

2013-03-19 19.56.57
Each of the speakers took a lot of genuinely engaged and insightful questions from the audience, giving the whole event an informal, conversational tone which continued pretty late over drinks!

I’d like to thank all of our speakers for their input, UBS for their support and of course everyone who turned up and made it such a successful evening. I’ll be running another event soon so keep an eye out for news on that.


I’m delighted to announce the second Angel Academe event, following on from our inaugural evening in Tech City back in the autumn. For those new to it, Angel Academe is a network for professional women interested in supporting tech entrepreneurs – as mentors, non-execs or angel investors. Or just finding out a bit more about the amazing tech startup scene in London.

This next event is at going to be hosted by UBS – to whom I’m very grateful – in London, and will take place on the evening of March 19th. As before, the evening will comprise a mix of key notes, pitch presentations and networking over drinks. Speakers include, not 1 but 2 inspirational angel investors, Maria Dramalioti-Taylor and Marianne Abib-Pech, followed by founders Amber Brown (Upfront Analytics) and Gerlinde Gniewosz (KO-SU).

Maria is a Managing Partner at Geneva-based x.Million Capital Ventures, focusing on digital media, and founder of Angellab in London. She made her first angel investment in 2003 and since then has worked with some of the most forward thinking entrepreneurs at Grafighters, Move Guides,, Improve Digital (sold), Stingray (sold), Pervasic (sold), Ciphergrid and others

Marianne is the Founder of Sylar ltd, a boutique advising and fund raising firm and sits on the board of several VC funds. Her corporate career includes stints at Arthur Andersen, Motorola and General Electric before becoming Global CFO for Shell Aviation, and Head of Finance and Commercial for EMEA Operation of BHP Billiton Iron Ore division. Marianne’s first book, The Financial Times Guide to Leadership: How to Lead Effectively and Get Results was published in February 2013. She is also a regular columnist for Global Corporate Venturing, The Huffington Post and The Independent.

If you’re interested in the event then please take a look at the Eventbrite page for more details and to register. I really hope you can make it!