Yet compared with the number of women acting as angel investors, these areas are awash with women. It’s not easy to tie down the statistics on angel investing as a lot of it happens informally – a chap knows a chap and lends him a couple of hundred thousand. However what statistics exist show a dearth of women. The UK Business Angels Association do an annual survey of their members and have found that a mere 5% of angel investors are female.
Sarah Turner set up Angel Academe in 2012 to help to redress the balance. She believes that in technology the proportion of women investing is even lower than 5%. “What's clear to me is that there's opportunity and demand: both for an angel group focussed on tech but designed to appeal to women (women control nearly 50% of the net wealth in this country!), and from founders (both men and women) who would like to pitch to us.”
Like most people who work in tech, I have long had a fascination with both investment and entrepreneurship, yet on my own I would never have taken the plunge to become an investor. It’s hard to analyse the reasons for this. Confidence plays a part, but I’m hardly a shrinking violet when it comes to business and my career. So I was delighted when, after a chance introduction to Sarah last year followed by an invitation to join the group, I took part in the Angel Academe salons where the panel of angel investors listen to pitches and question the founders.
As a novice investor, I am really honoured to be part of this group, which includes women from very senior roles including operational, marketing, tech and corporate finance roles as well as successful entrepreneurs – who better to trust with your money? It was also reassuring to see that my instincts on what was a good deal or not matched the rest of the group. Six months on, I have just signed my first deal to invest in social music platform Buddybounce.
Set up by entrepreneurs Emma Obanye and Giulia Piu, responsible for tech and product respectively, Buddybounce is a platform for 16-24 year olds to earn points by sharing information about and digital assets from their favourite artist. For example I might get recognised for following One Direction on twitter, and gain even more points if I tweet their new video. This pool of dedicated fans provides an easily monetisable service to record label and artists. As we start to tire of being advertised to, this kind of marketing is almost priceless.
And perhaps there are more far reaching benefits to supporting women founders. Sarah says “If you want to look at the bigger picture, I also think entrepreneurship is the best opportunity we have for advancing women - the number of women at the top of large corporations has remained the same for many years. Far better to support new businesses who can create their own culture.”