An idea for a fund
Over the last year I have spent more time talking to interesting women about a variety of topics. What kind of work they do, their companies, their ideas, their families, how to fund more women entrepreneurs, how be more transparent about our lives to help the next generation, etc.
One of the many topics is how to connect more women angels, like myself. I certainly have a small handful of people that I show businesses to that come across my desk. I am curious what they might think and perhaps if we would invest together. Also, it helps when doing diligence. Regardless of those conversations, there is a lot of singular focus and there is something to said for group that is focused on the same thing, like a company.
I have been thinking about what a womans fund would look like for a while. I have investments in tech based companies but I also have investments in companies that for lack of a better description are brick and mortar models. Certainly the brick and mortar models use tech but their businesses only use it because it helps them expand and everyone must have a social media/site as part of their business these days.
Here is my idea. 50% of the capital raised would go to tech related businesses. Tech related is a broad topic so I define it as a business that uses tech as a platform to create their business and without the technology piece, they wouldn't be in business. I have already invested in companies like that such as Food52, Red Stamp, Catch-a-Fire, Curbed/Eater/Racked, Nest.io, Editd, Edition01 and DailyWorth. Btw, except for Curbed Media, all of these companies were started by women entrepreneurs and most of them have a balance of women and men at the top of the company. To me, that makes for a much better organization.
The other 50% would go towards more brick and mortar operations. Those term sheets are much different. I would set up a group of advisors around these businesses to help insure their success. Where in the tech world you generally have multiple investors that can give advice and help the entrepreneurs grow their company, in the brick and mortar not so much. There are a few models in the non-profit world where money has been given to women to start their own businesses and there is a path that they follow that helps the entrepreneur avoid many pitfalls.
Those businesses, again started by women entrepreneurs, have a difficult time get funding. Think of a woman in a community who is interested in a business where she provides all the sweatshirts, t-shirts, sweatpants, etc. to all the local schools in the area. A bank is not interested in funding someone like that but perhaps we would.
If we could come up with something where more women are getting funded to create companies that could grow in range from $10M to $100M that are evenly balanced between men and women at the top and provide jobs opportunites for people who have chosen to stay home and want to work hours that work with their life style or want to re-enter the work place, the impact in the economy and communities could be significant.
Not saying I am doing this but am just thinking outloud.
How about manufacturing companies that need start-up capital for their prototypes? None of the state tech funds will even talk to you until you’ve got a prototype, even if it’s 1/100th scale.
perhaps that makes sense too.
You have more than one great idea here…I’d like to see you blog more often on ‘non-tech’ start-ups and funding. Food. Services. Clothing and the like. You have experience here, few others do. There is a void of information on this topic.I would encourage you though to reconsider the gender requirement for this segment. These non-tech topics are not gender specific any more than the restaurant or fashion biz are.
Something to think about. I will also try and write more about the brickand mortar businesses
This is fantastic.
Just curious…how would you define a company that could qualify for your fund? 51% woman owned? Woman CEO? Goals/customers focusted on women? All/any of the above?
Woman entrepreneur. A woman would have to be heading up the organizationand idea
you should connect with Lauren Flanagan of belle capital… happy to make the intro. http://www.bellevc.com/bell…
I love this idea–a nice balance of businesses and a big fund to help start women’s businesses in the areas where pie-in-key money is harder to get. One day, I think such a fund could be opened up to smaller investors who would love to smaller amounts into an aggregate.You don’t have to do it you’re busy already; i’m sure someone else will step up to the plate!
Perhaps I can advise
if you’re interested in advising, I’d sure love to chat with you about it. I can be reached at marian[at]sassyceo.com
A fantastic idea. Have you talked to the Pipeline Fund’s Natalia Oberti Noguera, or to Cindy Padnos at Illuminate VC? Both are leaders in the area of funding women and might be great potential partners for you! Barnard College is also working on some very interesting entrepreneurship initiatives.
what is barnard working on?
The Athena Center for Leadership Studies has some really interesting projects, led by Kathryn Kolbert and Debora Spar. I’m working with them to try to establish a business plan competition and/or incubator. I would love to talk to you about it and/or put you in touch with them!
great to read this thinking outloud idea! wondering if you’ve spoken to Sharon Vosmek from Astia. Debra Dunn also comes to mind.
just espousing. haven’t really done anything else but that.
excellent also that you are finding your place or creating your placeJudy
Joanne – Sounds great! How about a hybrid model? Technology supporting Brands doing business in luxury B+M – this is my business model. Women like myself + my bueinss partner desperately need women Mentors + Investors open to tech supporting B+M. I’d LOVE to be involved when my business gets into market – I’ll be bi-coastal too! Please keep me in the loop.Being in L.A., finding investors has been nearly impossible – as have ‘introductions’ as neither of us are from tech. My business partner and I have attended VC meetings in OC + LA – mostly males who’ve made $ in real estate OR younger tech developers (men) that believe B+M is dead/dying/not worth saving. Common ‘no’s” “Can’t you make it a consumer web app? or an e-tail business? Why don’t you get funding from the industry?’I find it interesting that VC’s/Angels REQUIRE an introduction – while we have achieved meetings in NY with C-Level executives with some of the oldest + largest brand in the world through a ‘cold call’ E.Mail introduction + deck sent to the U.S. brand President or CEO! Seriously, Angels/VC’s get more solicitations than Major Retailers and 100 year old Brands? I suspect, not. From our cold calling efforts we arecurrently in talks with Clarins and meet with La Mer in July and Clinique in August in NYC (both are Estee Lauder Companies). but still no $!
what exactly does b + m stand for?here is something to think about. if your biz has a product geared towardsthe cosmetic industry, then having them invest makes sense. you grow thebusiness with their dollars and eventually they buy you.with VC’s, they are looking to invest in large disruptive businesses as theyhave a group of investors that expect that from them. the entire worldthese days believes that they have that disruptive business.
…sorry – B+M=brick+mortar. Today my partner + I were accepted to Adeo Ressi’s Founder’s Institute Summer Session in Silicon Valley!
That’s awesome. Congratulations!!
Hi JoanneAs you know Golden Seeds is a group of over 180 men and women (but mostly women) angel investors who target women owned companies and have invested in 40 women entrepreneurs, providing them with $24million in capital. We also have funds, and our second fund ($14million raised so far) has the kind of diversification you describe. Cheers for now, Stephanie Hanbury-Brown
Impressive what Golden Seeds has accomplished and continues to accomplish.My concept is a smaller pool of investors although only rattling around myhead
I believe women should dominant the social networking industry. Why not have business owners control and operate THE social network for their field and generate revenue from advertisement. I call this localized social networking. The concept is like an international, glorified craigslist with the ability to upload YouTube videos. Visit http://www.SignLife.org for the example. You can generalize this concept and have a website solely for property investments that people can all post on. Any thoughts?
Women entrepreneurs need more options besides Golden Seeds. GS seem to draw money from male investors who influence their decisions. So, instead of concentrating on product/services for women they would go with what these guys might be impressed with. Now, male-dominated VCs tend to invest in shiny toys to kill time, while women favor practical time-saving ideas that could be of use to them in real life. What do you want – a safe organic nail polish that lasts for two weeks without chipping or a universal remote control that lets you operate everything in your apartment?