Archives for posts with tag: women

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.

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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 learnt something surprising today: we have a Professor of Networking in the UK. To her immense credit, Julia Hobsbawm then went on to explain that she was a visiting Professor at Cass Business School, not an academic. In fact, she doesn’t even have a degree.

Friend and social media guru, Kate Lawrence, has been working on the Southbank’s Women of the World Festival for the last few months, so I thought I should go along and check it out. I’m very glad I did. Julia’s session was on how to overcome shyness in order to get the best out of your connections.


Her central thesis is that everyone feels as thought it’s their first day at school when confronted with a room full of people they don’t know. Even the “important” people at a networking event, the ones everyone is trying to get time with are probably feeling anxious; they’re under pressure to live up to peoples’ high expectation of them after all.

Her remedies and practical advice included: your time is precious, so pick your events wisely.  Target well “curated” gatherings where you’ll make interesting and like-minded contacts. Have something interesting to say and be curious about other people. Don’t be goal-focussed; you shouldn’t network to sell. Instead, let the “weak ties” from events develop into strong networks over time. Technology is useful but not a substitute for face to face meetings.

My favourite quote of hers was that networking “has nothing to do with self-promotion and everything to do with self-preservation” as this chimes with my thinking around Angel Academe.

The book Nice Girls don’t get the Corner Office generally got the thumbs up from the current and former corporate and City women who reviewed it in the following session. Although it doesn’t delve into the big questions about what needs fixing with corporate culture and assumes people love their job, it helps women (and men) understand where they might be unwittingly undermining themselves. From being too nice, to how you speak, to the games that go on in the workplace.

Hannah Philip, corporate broker and feminist activist, told an amusing story about leaving her City job for one in the Arts. She thought it would be much closer to her heart, but actually found the politics far more complicated to navigate than those in her previous job. She’s now very happily back in the City.

I liked all the women on this panel. None of them were waiting around for men to fix things for them. So on their recommendation, I’ve ordered the book. About a fiver including postage on Amazon.

It’s also worth mentioning the first session of the day on international activism and the power of an individual to change the world. Ziauddin Yousafzai talked very movingly about his daughter, Malala, the young Pakistani campaigner for girls’ education who was shot by the Taliban in October 2012. The session was chaired by Jude Kelly, the Southbank’s Creative Director and also featured Sarah and Gordon Brown and Valerie Amos, UN Special Envoy for Global Education.

Thank you Southbank. An excellent event all in all and I hope the rest of the festival is a huge success. If I have one suggestion for next year, it would be to include a session on entrepreneurship. But then I would…