As Madeleine Albright once said and Taylor Swift once quoted, there’s a special place in hell reserved for women who don’t help other women. The startup world has taken this on board perhaps better than any other space over the last few years, with movement after movement launching to help women get their start.
Just a few months after the launch of SheEO’s ‘Act of Radical Generosity’ campaign, which asked 1000 women around Canada to donate $1000 to later be divided among 10 women-led ventures, another Canadian group has launched, this time looking to demystify angel investing and get 1000 women making their first angel investment.
Named Female Funders, the initiative was launched by entrepreneur Katherine Hague, co-founder of ecommerce platform ShopLocket, and her first angel investor Heather Payne after the pair co-invested in the Toronto startup CareGuide earlier this year. They found that while the startup had over 70 angels in their round – the “who’s who” of the Toronto startup community – they had only one woman until Hague and Payne joined.
“Katherine wanted to figure out what was stopping women from investing so she started talking to women about their thoughts on angel investing. What she realised was that many women had misconceptions about angel investing, the most common of which were that angel investments were very complicated, only something millionaires can do, or that they are always for very large amounts,” said Female Funders’ Miranda Voth.
“She also found out that many women weren’t aware of the non-monetary benefits of angel investing. Angel investments can be a way to learn about new industries, build your network, and see how various businesses work behind the scenes. Angel investing is the best professional development course you could ever take, and for many their first angel investment could cost less than their last vacation.”
The Female Funders platform provides information on how to go about becoming an accredited angel investor and how to find and make the right investments, with advice coming from big-name investors including Esther Dyson and Joanne Wilson.
Two things have made the initiative possible, Voth said. Firstly, with a number of educational tools and lists of fundraising startups now readily available online, the industry has never been more transparent and open. The other is the growing number of women founding companies.
“We’ve been watching the growing Female Founders movement over the last couple years, and couldn’t help but think that there needed to be a matching movement on the funding side. Getting women to angel invest is more than just about equality. More women angel investing will mean more funded female-led companies — if for no other reason than because similarity biases tend to attract us to people like us,” Voth said.
Due to legal restrictions on angel investments, Female Funders cannot be a structured investment group. However, the site encourages women who may not want to find their own investment to join a highlighted AngelList syndicate, while the team is also considering launching its own syndicate for the group to help create a more structured community.
Voth said, “We hope to create a lifelong interest and habit of investing in the women that come to Female Funders, so our goal is that women will ultimately get the confidence to move beyond syndicates into their own direct investments.”
Image: Katherine Hague of Female Funders.