Archives for posts with tag: women investors

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.

Thank you all for coming along on Tuesday night and making the event such a success.

Particular thanks to our speakers: Bob Schukai from Thomson Reuters, Hannah O’Shaunessey and Kerri Mckechnie from Angel Academe, Sarah Tierney from We Are Colony and Louise Wilson from Abundance. I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more from all of them in future.

Kerri talked about Entrepreneur Academe, the 12-month mentoring programme for ambitious women entrepreneurs that we’re running in partnership with the City of London. The programme kicked off last month and you can read about it and our winning entrepreneurs here.

We have an amazing ling-up of mentors and experts but are always looking to add more. If you’d like to get involved, please tell us a little about yourself here.

Finally, if you’d like to find out more about angel investing opportunities, please drop us a line and if you’d like to be considered for a pitching slot at one of our events, please send an investor summary or pitch deck for us to review.


Zoe Cunningham writes over on the Angel Academe blog:

I’ve written before on the lack of women in technology roles. There are many many articles that talk about the small number of women in top positions in large corporates. The modestly targeted 30% club is still a long way from its goal to get just 30% of board positions filled with females.

Yet compared with the number of women acting as angel investors, these areas are awash with women. It’s not easy to tie down the statistics on angel investing as a lot of it happens informally – a chap knows a chap and lends him a couple of hundred thousand. However what statistics exist show a dearth of women. The UK Business Angels Association do an annual survey of their members and have found that a mere 5% of angel investors are female.

More at Angel Academe

Reposted from Angel Academe:

Last night saw the fifth of our networking events, and a return to the City offices of our sponsors Thomson Reuters – and what a packed evening (and for that matter packed room) it turned out to be.


As ever, I kicked off the evening with a general introduction to the Angel Academe mission, and a round up of what we’ve achieved so far. The real step change for us came with the establishment of an investment group of around 40 angels that’s met four times since September; we’ve screened 50 businesses and 10 have pitched to us. At the time of writing we have two in the investment pipeline.

But we had big news to announce as well: we have just closed our first investment in Buddybounce, the online tool to engage the “superfan”. Later in the evening Buddybounce founders Emma Obanye and Giulia Piu chatted about their experience of working with us and we were really gratified that to hear them talk about the value we bring as a network – beyond the money (though that’s nice too, of course!)

Our other bit of news – which we announced here last week – is that we’re working with the City of London to deliver a year-long mentoring programme for female entrepreneurs working in the City’s neighbouring boroughs. If you’d like to enter the programme, you can apply here, and if you feel you can offer your skills as a mentor, then please get in touch here and tell us how you think you can help.

I was followed by Arthi Thana, from Thomson Reuters’ Global HR IT Services team. Arthi talked about the mentoring at TH and succinctly summed up the crucial two-way nature of mentoring: “What is key to success is the level of commitment to the relationship that each party puts into it. Just showing up and shooting the breeze isn’t useful”. Quite.

We then had our usual “inspirational angel” slot – this time ably filled by Angel Academe associate Kerri Mckechnie, who used a mindmap to show us how her life comprises juggling some very different spheres: being a finance director, angel investor, entrepreneur (she’s the co-founder of My Wild) and a mother.

Screen shot 2014-03-05 at 21.22.57

And then, of course, we had two pitches, from two very different businesses.

Vicky Brock is CEO of Clear Returns. She talked us through the enormous impact that returns have on e-commerce; something like £20 billion a year internationally! Clear Returns helps reduce this burden through the use of big data and predictive algorithms.

Debbi Evans is founder of Libertine, a smart magazine “for interested women” that dares to believe women might be interested in reading about anything other than fashion and beauty. Debbi is currently looking at taking the publication online and establishing it as a multimedia brand.

Screen shot 2014-03-05 at 21.24.04

Naturally, we finished the evening off with wine and plenty of chat. I was delighted with what a great turn out we had – and a real mix of new and familiar faces. Many thanks, as ever, to Thomson Reuters for hosting the event. We’re already looking forward to our next one on May 13th.


Cross posted from the Angel Academe blog:

We’re just a week away from this year’s first AA networking event, held at the London offices of our sponsor Thomson Reuters. Here’s how the evening is looking…

We’ll be gathering over a coffee from 5.30 and then we’ll have introductions at 6 from Angel Academe founder Sarah Turner and Aarthi Thana, Global HR Business Partner, IT Services at Thomson Reuters.

This month’s “Inspirational Angel” talk will be from Kerri McKechnie, Director at My Wild and our associate on the City of London Entrepreneur Academe programme.

We’ll then have pitches from two very different businesses and entreprenuers: Vicky Brock, CEO at Clear Returns and Debbi Evans, Founder at Libertine.

And of course we’ll finish off the evening with drinks and networking. If you’d like to sign up for the event head over to our Eventbrite page.


Here’s an interview I gave recently to Jana Hlistova, founder and editor of SWSC, cross-posted with kind permission.

Sarah Turner is director of a consulting company Turner Hopkins which consults on innovation in media with big clients like BBC, OFCOM, UK Trade & Investment. She is also founder of Angel Academe: an angel investment syndicate investing in female-led start-ups.

Can you share in your professional background?

A few years ago I fell into angel investing: a friend was growing his business and was looking for people to invest in it, I really liked him, I liked the team, I liked the business and got hooked on the whole thing.

I don’t have a huge amount of money to invest, and I’m still relatively inexperienced, so I decided I wanted to invest as part of a group, who could pool funds, experience and due diligence. I founded Angel Academe because I identified that there was an opportunity to attract more women in the market as angel investors.

Women control nearly half of the net wealth in the UK, but according to official statistics, only 5% of angel investors are women. I thought that was a very interesting opportunity and set about building an angel investment network that I wanted to be a part of: one that was collaborative and one that was mainly, but not only women; there are quite a few men in our group.

One of the consequences of not having many women investing is that it makes it far harder for female founded businesses to get the funding they need. However gender blind we claim to be, I think we tend to have those biases. And all the evidence supports that.

My main aim is to get more women investing, as angels, but we are hoping to support female-founded businesses through Angel Academe as well.

Is there a selection criteria to join Angel Academe? And is there a minimum amount to invest?

There is some regulation around running angel groups. For example, I’m only allowed to present investment opportunities to people who are either certified or self-certified as high-net worth individuals or sophisticated investors. So people need to have a certain net worth in order to invest and be aware of the risks involved.  

So I am targeting quite a specific demographic of high-net worth professional women, who not only have the money to invest, but have decades of experience and skills behind them. This is incredibly helpful when evaluating deals and one of the biggest advantages for businesses taking angel investment, is the skills and contacts that your angels bring.

The minimum investment in any one opportunity is £10,000, and we’re looking for people to make around two investments per year. I recommend crowd funding sites for anyone who is interested in investing but is not yet at this level.

Angel investment is vital to fill the gap between friends and family money and venture capital. In recognition of its importance, the government is giving investors quite generous tax breaks. The enterprise investment scheme and the seed enterprise investment scheme alleviates some of the risk for angel investors.

How would you describe the angel investment and investment landscape for female-led start-ups?

I think there is a lot of competition for available capital for everyone, but I also know it is even harder for women. I recently read an article by Fiona Murray, Professor of Entrepreneurship at MIT Sloan School of Management who describes an experiment she ran where exactly the same pitch was delivered by men and women, but the men were 40% more likely to receive funding.

However gender blind we try to be, it is quite difficult. While men need to be aware of their biases, women can also help other women by becoming investors.

For women who want to raise finance, what do you suggest is the best approach? What do you suggest women in the UK do?

There are lots of things to do and none of this applies just to women. But women need to be particularly professional given the additional challenges they face.

They need to be investment ready: not every business is investment ready and not every business is right for investment.

Make sure you know what it takes, what investors look for, where you need to be. So speak to people who have raised money, speak to people who have invested money. Make sure you have all your ducks in a row, and be professional about it.

It is important to have an investor summary. This should be short, but should cover all the things an investor needs know about your business. It should talk about your team and your track record, your product or service, and the market opportunity for it, your traction to date, what revenues you have generated and/or your user numbers.

Be very honest about the competition, but make sure you explain how you are different from them. Network like mad but make sure you have an objective for your networking: go to the right events and target the right people.

And ask for introductions. I tend to favour pitches that come via my network, rather than people who approach me directly. I think that most investors work on that basis.

Also target investors who are a good fit for what you are doing. So speak to a lot of people but don’t be scattergun in your approach. Find the ones who would be interested in what you are doing. Look at what they have invested in before, look at their skills.

At Angel Academe, I receive a lot of pitches from businesses founded by men. This doesn’t mean we won’t consider them for investment, but I do expect them to have done a bit of research and seen that most of our angels are women and we favour women founded businesses. If they don’t take the time to explain why they’re a good fit (for example, the market for the product/service is women, or they want to recruit women as non-execs and advisors), then it is clear they haven’t tried to understand what we’re about at all.

Also, raise your profile, try to speak at events, try to establish yourself as a thought-leader in your area. If I’ve heard of you already, that gives you immediate credibility.

Finally, if you’re asking someone for help, offer something back in return and treat it as a two-way street.