Women: The Next Wave of Angel Investors?
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
I recently returned from the Angel Capital Association’s annual summit in San Diego. In addition to a pre-conference workshop on angel investing that targeted women, there was a special networking reception and dinner for women one evening during the conference, as well as a session on increasing women’s participation in angel investing.
It was a big change, being surrounded by women at an investing event. Females have historically made up less than 15% of the angel investors in the United States. The University of New Hampshire’s Center for Venture Research estimated that women angels represented 19.4% of the angel market in 2014, which was a significant increase from the 12.2% number from just two years prior. Women-owned ventures accounted for 23% of the entrepreneurs that were seeking angel capital and 19% of those entrepreneurs that received angel investment in 2013.
Having more women on the funding side matters. The University of New Hampshire’s Jeffrey Sohl and Laura Hill conducted a fairly extensive survey of angel groupsin the United States. They designated those groups with women representing at least 25% of their membership as “women-dominated.” They found that more than 30% of the firms presented for consideration in the women-dominated groups were owned by women compared to an average of 12% to 13% for male-dominated angel investor groups. Thus, as one would anticipate, angel groups with a higher representation of women tend to attract and consider a higher percentage of women-owned firms. Similarly, Sohl and Hill found that women-dominated angel investor groups devoted a higher percentage of their investments to women-owned firms (13.3% vs. 6.6%) for 2003.
I returned home to Boulder, Colorado full of ideas on how to leverage the energy and excitement of the event and not lose the momentum that activities generated. The next morning, I headed over early to the Rockies Venture Club monthly investor meeting for a pitch practice session by one of the entrepreneurs in the firstMergeLane cohort, an accelerator program for women entrepreneurs, which would be having its demo day soon. I asked Rockies Venture Club staff to hear her pitch, and they gave her excellent feedback that benefitted her immensely. As the men trickled in to the meeting around the scheduled start time, I muffled a sigh of disappointment as I again realized I was the only woman in the room.