Two Great New Resources for Women: Rising Tide US Fund and Female Funders

A big thank-you to Female Funders for quoting Tina and me in their latest newsletter! I have re-posted it here.  Also, thanks to FF for spreading the word about the Rising Tide US Fund – it is truly a unique opportunity.  Please read this if are a woman who might explore the idea of getting involved in angel investing.

Love,
Suzanne


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Community News:

The Rising Tide Fund is now open! Accepting $10,000 from 99 female investors. 

The Rising Tide Fund is a new initiative that uses a collaborative investing model. The $1 million dollar fund is being raised this month from nine seasoned women angels who will act as lead investors of the fund and 90 accredited women who will have the opportunity to be mentored by the nine leads.

Looking for a way to dip your toe in the water and learn how investments are made? This is the opportunity for you! Be one of the 99 women to take part in the Rising Tide fund by investing $10,000. You’ll be part of 6-10 investments made by the fund over the course of the next 12 – 18 months.

This fund is expected to close quickly. If you’d like to take part, be sure to inquire quickly.

Questions? Contact trish@portfolia.com, use Female Funders in your subject line. 

LEARN MORE

What investors are saying about
The Rising Tide Fund…

“For a woman’s first angel investment, it doesn’t get any better than the Rising Tide US Fund.  Excellent investment thesis, top-shelf mentors, fabulous networking – definitely bring a friend to this one!” 

Suzanne Andrews, Investor in the Rising Tide Fund
Founding Partner, Wingpact

“As Lao Tzu said, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step!  Rising Tide US Fund seems like the perfect first investment step for me to learn, invest, network, and be part of the fabulous community of women angel investors! I am so excited to be part of the efforts to support & improve the entrepreneurial ecosystem for women.  Thank you Suzanne Andrews from Wingpact for introducing me to this!” 

Tina Choi, Investor in the Rising Tide Fund

Questions? Feedback? Have a story to share?
We want to hear from you. Email us at hello@femalefunders.com

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Tour of Tech: Nigeria 2015

Tuor of Tech

I dream of a global network of women entrepreneurs and investors. Women around the globe have so many commonalities, and also fascinating diverse perspectives and experiences. We can learn so much from each other. One of the most exciting things about my work in activating new women angels is that we can support deserving women entrepreneurs who may not find capital elsewhere, due to their gender. When we combine one woman’s capital  and support with another woman’s world-changing idea, visions become real.  How much more exciting is it to be able to do this on a global scale? Women around the world intimately understand the problems in their communities and have innovative solutions in mind. Let’s work together to unleash those solutions!

It’s because of this dream that I am incredibly excited to be supporting the Tour of Tech 2015, by Ingressive. This is an opportunity for investors from around the world to meet the top African entrepreneurs at two major gatherings happening in Lagos, Nigeria, this coming September. Over half of the trip itinerary will be focused specifically on women entrepreneurs and their ecosystem support in Africa.

Please consider joining me on this unique trip if you would like to:
– Experience first-hand the startup ecosystem in Africa
– Support women working together globally to advance innovation
– Build your entrepreneurial networks in Africa
– Find the best angel investment opportunities in Africa, which are some of the best in the world.

Below please find the official trip description.  I know you will want to know more, so please contact me.  I hope to see you in Nigeria!

Love,
Suzanne

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Tour of Tech: 2015

Ingressive is leading an angel investor trip to She Leads Africa, the continent’s most prestigious showcase for the top women-led startups, and DEMO Africa, a two-day expo for the fastest growing high tech, AI, robotics, and software startups.

We have partnered with Tastemakers, a local agency providing world-class travel services, as well as the opportunity to experience culture, venues, and nightlife as only locals do. It will be quite the adventure.

Past attendees have included Dangote, Bola Adesola (CEO Standard Chartered), Jason Njoku (Founder iROKO TV), and Hakeen Belo-Osagie (Chairman Etisalat Nigeria).

Media coverage includes Forbes, The Guardian, Black Enterprise, BusinessDay, Lions Africa, Atlanta Blackstar, Techabal, and Bella Naija—to name a few.

From September 20-27, we invite angels from around the world to join us in Lagos for a trip packed with local tours, private startup dinners, meetings and mentorings with some of the most influential minds of Africa.

Now is the perfect time to look carefully at opportunities across the continent. Six of the ten fastest growing economies as well as the fastest growing consumer class are in Africa. No other region currently has the dynamic combination of rapidly growing markets, maturing financial infrastructure, growing political stability, and dramatically increasing investment activity by private investors and major multinationals. Join us, empower women, build startups, and gain exclusive access to some of the highest performing companies on the continent.

Please contact suzanne@me.com for trip details.

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Women Investors Retreat

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Six passionate, intelligent, high-impact women, on retreat in the mountains of Lake Tahoe, drinking wine, doing yoga, discussing the meaning of success and brainstorming how to make a lot of money while creating a better future for all of the world’s inhabitants. Seriously. What could be better? Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention, we actually got stuff done.

On Sunday morning, Jagruti led us in twelve sun salutations. She explained that in her culture, we bless the sun because it always rises, no matter what. Plus, it allows us to see the faces of our loved ones. Then, we pulled out a laptop and started filling in the online forms to generate the documents that will create our Limited Liability Corporation, named Impact With Wings, LLC. We chose a CEO (Hana), decided how many units of the company we will each start with, and how the managing founders will make decisions. And because we are women, we had to multitask. Just forming a company does not occupy all of our capabilities. Karen cooked an amazing frittata for us while 11-year-old Ian entertained Karen’s 2-year-old Reeve. Christine wrote some paragraphs for her chapter of our book, and posted an entry to our Wingpact blog. Sheila washed dishes. When the morning was over, our company was formed (mostly), and we all felt refreshed and pampered.

I think this is how women would do everything, if the ways of the world allowed it. I am so blessed to be able to see the sun-kissed faces of my beautiful and inspiring colleagues who are also my dear friends.

When I got home, I realized…passionate, intelligent, high-impact women need this kind of time! It is a necessity to keep our ideas flowing and our confidence in our crazy dreams alive. Women investors need to go on retreat together. The numbers of women investors are increasing, but we are still a minority. We still feel isolated, especially in the venture capital environment.

I envision a weekend getaway where women who invest in early stage startups, whether as angels, VCs, or some combination, can relax and urge each other on to those bigger and better things that we hold in our hearts.

Soft beds and very comfortable accommodations. Clear, crisp air of close proximity to nature. Nourishing food, with wine and chocolate. Women cooking for each other, but that’s optional. (We bond in the kitchen but we hate it when it’s obligatory.) Gentle, cleansing exercise (also optional). Big ideas flow easily and interweave with personal truths. When we leave at the end of the gathering, we are more ourselves than we were when we arrived.

Would you attend a retreat like this? Would you be willing to brainstorm with me about what would make this retreat perfect for you? Let me know – leave a comment!

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Revolution in the Valley

Dear Friends,

I am honored to be featured in this Huffington Post piece, along with Jackie Speier, Kay Koplovitz, and Ari Horie.  I love how Julie Barnes doesn’t mince words regarding how serious women are about crashing through barriers and creating the future we want. This post, in tone and content, is right along the lines of what I am using my blog to create. Thank you, Julie, for your truth-telling, and for agreeing to let me re-post here.

Love,
Suzanne

This is a reprint of an article by , Founder and CEO, Julie Barnes Live here at the Huffington Post. You can follow Julie Barnes on Twitter.

 

I recently had the pleasure of attending a roundtable discussion on women’s entrepreneurship hosted by the Women’s Startup Lab in the heart of Silicon Valley. In attendance was the U.S. Representative for California’s 14th congressional district, Jackie Speier.

It was inspiring to hear of her commitment to not only women entrepreneurs, but to all women of California.

An interesting mix of entrepreneurs attended: some, like me, were service-based businesses, but the majority of the women in attendance were women founders of tech companies. The one common thread among us was that all of our businesses were helping to create change and make the world a better place in some small way.

We all know that starting any business is not for the faint of heart, but what was astounding to hear about were the obstacles that the women tech founders still have to persevere through as entrepreneurs. These stories included everything from women not being taken seriously because they are women to their endless difficulties in trying to obtain investment funding for their startups.

One founder shared that she spent countless days trying to obtain funding in the early stages of her company. Some days, she was out pitching to investors up to five times a day only to hear, “Come back when you have ‘xyz.'” When she did come back with ‘xyz,’ she would be turned down again, and another request for more information or proof would follow.

Another founder shared about the endless sexism that women in tech experience, along with sexual harassment from male investors. One founder spoke up to share that when she did obtain funding after a successful pitch, the investor handed her a check and said, “This is the first time I have ever invested without receiving ‘special favors.'”

It’s the endless stories like these that are inspiring women entrepreneurs to take action to create a women-driven ecosystem, a system of partnership where women invest in each other through knowledge, support, and collaboration. But it’s important to note that men are not excluded from the community.

When I spoke with Ari Horie, founder and CEO of Women’s Startup Lab about this new movement, she said, “I would argue that all people thrive in the community, not just women.”

However, Women’s Startup Lab is providing female tech founders an alternative accelerator model that leverages network assets and professional coaching to foster business growth. “We are high caliber and high energy to yield results for our cohort members’ businesses. The work of Women’s Startup Lab gives the tech industry more and more examples that female tech leaders are future innovators and major players in the industry,” Horie explains.

The Women’s Startup Lab is showing their current cohort members and other female tech leaders that it’s possible to achieve your business goals despite the obstacles the entrepreneurial path gives us by leveraging their unique business experiences into an investment thesis that venture capitalists and large conglomerates find attractive.

Recent alumni Monique Giggy, co-founder of Swing by Swing, a free golf GPS range finder application, and Liesl Capper, co-founder of Cognea, a cognitive computing and conversational artificial intelligence platform, went through Women’s Startup Lab’s program in 2012 and both operations were recently acquired by larger companies, Swing by Swing by Back9Network and Cognea by IBM Watson.

I recently interviewed Kay Koplovitz on this very topic. Koplovitz is the co-founder of Springboard Enterprises, a premier platform where influencers, investors and innovators meet to help women build ‘big’ businesses. Koplovitz is also known as the game-changing entrepreneur who founded USA Networks and the SyFy Channel.

Springboard launched officially in Silicon Valley on January 27, 2000, to select, train and present women entrepreneurs in technology and life science to raise venture capital. It was a very different world then, one in which women were almost entirely absent. Springboard had to change perceptions about women building scalable businesses, open doors to raise capital, and create the support systems all entrepreneurs need to grow to success.

“In the intervening years, we have brought over 550 companies to market, and they have collectively raised over $6.5 billion,” explains Koplovitz, adding that more than a third have experienced positive liquidity events, with 11 IPOs from companies including iRobot, Constant Contact, and Zipcar.

In a 2013 article by Forbes, it was reported that women control US $20 trillion in annual consumer spending. I began to wonder what kind of impact could be made if more women invested in women-led companies.

I reached out to Suzanne Andrews, Partner, Impact With Wings and recent graduate of the Pipeline Fellowship, an angel investing boot camp for women, for her thoughts on the matter. “Women unquestionably have significant resources at our disposal. It seems to me that if we really looked at how to put these resources to work, we as women could have a lot of control over what kind of future is created,” Andrews says.

Andrews became interested in angel investing for one simple reason: statistics show women founders are more successful in creating and running businesses, yet they’re still underfunded in comparison to their male counterparts.

“Despite all of the research that has come out over the last two decades showing what a great investment opportunity women are, the behavior of the primarily male investment community has not changed very much,” Andrews explains.

But with organizations like Women’s Startup Lab and Pipeline Fellowship coming onto the scene, there may finally be some changes on the horizon for women in business. Andrews says, “With more women angel investors, and women in all stages of the investing pipeline, I expect we will be able to create a new playing field where gender is not an issue.”

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Impact With Wings

Well, now I have two blogs! Check out my new post on the “other” blog. As you may know, I am writing a book with a group of amazing women that I met in the Pipeline Fellowship. We were so inspired by our experience that we decided to write a book encouraging other women to follow our example and become angel investors. The title of our project is, “Impact With Wings.” We all found, each for our own reasons, that angel investing is a very exciting and powerful way to have a significant impact on how the future unfolds. Our new blog will chronicle our experiences working together on this book and other projects. Please follow Impact With Wings and let me know what you think!

Love,
Suzanne

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Hard Conversations for Women Angels

It’s a heady time in the women’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, with so many women stepping up to create the kind of future we want to live in. Not only does the number of women entrepreneurs continue to grow, we have an increasing pool of women investors, mentors, incubators, and support organizations. However, things are not perfect in this growing community. We women have some criticisms of each other.

For example, some women’s angel investing groups are regularly criticized for conducting due diligence that is overly onerous for entrepreneurs. This is seen as a problem because entrepreneurs are busy, and it’s in everyone’s best interest that they focus on building their business. Angel investing is inherently risky, and these women angels are risk-averse, the story goes.

First, I want to say that every angel group has its own style of making investment decisions. There is no consensus about how much due diligence is the right amount. We could chalk these criticisms up to style differences, although research shows that women are generally more careful investors.

I am not so interested in taking sides on this particular debate about how much due diligence is the right amount. Rather, I am interested in the opportunity for a potentially transformational, albeit challenging, conversation among women.

At this time in history, women are building a completely new entrepreneurial ecosystem. In the past, we have invested a lot of our life energy in helping the dominant business environment take advantage of our talents, and seen very little openness to change. This is one reason many women are stepping out sideways, creating their own businesses. It is within our power to make sure that we can all thrive within this new business culture that we are constructing from the ground up. In order for that to happen, we need to be mindful, introspective, and honest.

As women, many of our values and practices are an improvement over the dominant entrepreneurial ecosystem and business culture. And, some of our ingrained modes of operating may not be serving our higher purposes. Figuring out which is which is the challenge. But women are the experts on our own psychology, and we can tap each other’s wisdom to sort out the transformational from the habitual.

I had the delightful opportunity to speak recently with Denise Brosseau, CEO of the Thought Leadership Lab. Denise has spent decades building women’s entrepreneurial ecosystems by founding support organizations for women entrepreneurs, including Springboard, Watermark, and Invent Your Future Enterprises. Her commitment to women is unsurpassed. I appreciated her insight when she said, “We must start with a conversation about cultural norms around women and money and risk. From there, we can determine sensible practices.”

This is the work. These conversations are the heady opportunity. Let’s create an entrepreneurial ecosystem optimized for everyone’s success. To do that, we must not shy away from challenging each other to grow. We must embrace all of our perspectives, and use them to create a more inclusive and supportive business culture.

With all this in mind, I would like to convene a conversation about women’s psychology around money and risk. I envision that we would sit in a circle (in person or online) and learn from each other about the money and risk attitudes that drive our actions within the women’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. If you would like to participate in this gathering, or help me organize it, please contact me or leave a comment.

Let’s share our deep wisdom with each other and have a challenging, transformational conversation.

Love,
Suzanne

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Just Don’t Try to Sleep With Me

As a women angel investor, I am interested in how I can support women entrepreneurs in ways they don’t typically experience with male funders. I have asked women entrepreneurs the question a number of times: How can we as women angel investors support you better?

The answer that I usually get is along the lines of, “I’m just glad you won’t try to sleep with me.”

I initially feel disappointed when I get this answer. I was hoping to be able to do something more actively innovative, more creative, more disruptive. I want to invent new practices, improve the whole way business is done, build something new and unique.

And yet, let’s not underestimate the impact of just treating our entrepreneurs with basic respect.

We’ve all had the experiences, or at least heard the stories. It ranges from the blatant expectation of sex for funding, all the way to that hard-to-put-your-finger-on-it feeling that if you were a man, they wouldn’t be talking to you like this.

These experiences sap our life energy – energy we women would rather direct towards building our dreams. That is why it is so powerful to have women angel investors. Just imagine if none of us on this planet had to use our energy asserting our right to be at the table, and instead could focus completely on creating a new future.

As a woman investor, merely showing up is innovative, creative, and disruptive. Just by being ourselves, we allow entrepreneurs to assume they will be considered for the strength of their ideas and the evidence of their talents. Now, the full power of women’s dreams will be unleashed.

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Amplify your Impact – Become an Angel

Great news! The Pipeline Fellowship is currently taking applications for fellows for its fall 2014 programs. Programs will be held in Atlanta, Austin, Miami, Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Francisco.

As many of you know, I recently completed the Pipeline Fellowship. Pipeline trains women to be angel investors, focusing on supporting women entrepreneurs whose businesses have a positive social impact. My experience with the Pipeline Fellowship was extraordinary in many ways.

The class meets monthly over the course of 6 months. We cover investing basics, meet influential and inspiring mentors, and learn from each other as we go. The class also includes an experiential component. Each Fellow contributes money and we make an angel investment as a group. We receive applications from entrepreneurs, select 7 to 10 companies to pitch to us, choose three of those to continue with due diligence, and ultimately invest in one.

One of the things I love about Pipeline is that it is set up to honor the ways that women enjoy learning: we learn in a circle, sharing our own wisdom and listening to each other’s. And we bond working together on a project that we care about.

For me, a huge benefit of the class was getting to know the other women. There were 8 of us, and one wonderful TA. Since we had an investing assignment to complete together, we got to know each other’s values and work styles. Each of us stretched and grew during our time together. We found ourselves dreaming at bigger levels and hungry to increase our impact on projects important to us.

My Pipeline classmates are an incredible inspiration to me. Many of us continue to work on professional projects together, and will for some time to come. Stay tuned to hear about these projects…

I highly recommend the Pipeline Fellowship experience. Apply here soon. And tell Natalia that I sent you!

Love,
Suzanne

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Manos Angel Bootcamp Opportunity

As we women build our entrepreneurial culture, one of the values we certainly want to embody is inclusiveness. Our new business culture will be stronger and more interesting if we connect with all groups that are working hard for visibility and representation.

I am excited that my colleague from the Pipeline Fellowship, Hana Yang, has become a partner at the Manos Accelerator, working to support Latina and Latino entrepreneurs. Hana is bringing her Pipeline Fellowship experience to Manos, launching the Manos Angel Network and the Manos Angel Bootcamp.

The purpose of the Manos Angel Bootcamp is to train people how to be investors in early stage companies. These sessions are especially designed with a Silicon Valley-centric lens for those who are new to the angel investing game or would like a refresher.

The Bootcamp is an intense 6-session educational seminar covering the 
angel investment process from end-to-end, combined with mentorship and real-time application. The seminar starts this summer and runs in parallel with the Accelerator’s second batch of entrepreneurs.

Registration is currently open for the Manos Angel Bootcamp. Anyone who is committed to funding Latino and Latina entrepreneurs is welcome to apply.

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Moms Make Great Employees

After Dr. Geeta Kadambi passed the patent bar, she received a good job offer from a law firm. Yet, in that moment, she realized that what she really wanted to do was start her own company, where she could implement her own values.

Dr. Kadambi is now the CEO of Riddhi IP LLC, a thriving intellectual property law firm. She founded the firm 4 years ago. When she was ready to take on employees, she soon hired an intelligent woman who was a mother spending her time at home with children. This relationship turned out well, and as Riddhi IP LLC grows, Geeta continues to hire qualified moms as patent agents and support staff.

Geeta told me that she hears a lot of people say that mothers don’t make good employees because they are not focused and not committed to their jobs. There is an opinion in our mainstream business culture that if a woman has something more important in her life than her job, like children, then she won’t step up to her work the way a man would.

Dr. Kadambi has found exactly the opposite to be true. The moms on her team reliably produce high-quality work. Geeta has structured the company’s systems to match her own values, and these systems happen to also work well for mothers of young children. Each project runs on a 10-day cycle, with two to three interim reviews. When and how the work gets done is completely flexible, within the review schedule. Also, Riddhi IP LLC takes work on a flat-rate basis, so there is no need for employees to track billable hours.

Riddhi IP LLC’s employees are intelligent, loyal, and honest. Geeta is even able to take vacations with peace of mind, since she knows her team will handle things professionally in her absence. Not every CEO of a young company has that benefit!

In our society, the brainpower and perspective of mothers is too often left on the table. Dr. Geeta Kadambi has found a way to access this talent pool. As a result, she gets to work in a collaborative, trusting environment, and her business is successful.

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