In agreeing to co-host Women in Angel Summit Table Stakes in partnership with Kate Brodock and Alexandra Satine, I knew I was signing up for impact. However, I hadn’t begun to imagine the event experience that we would ultimately create and deliver.
Upfront we agreed to curate the event to come from women and be delivered to women. Everything from our speakers, moderators, founder pitches and caterers to our outfit choices were chosen with women in mind.
The gaps are so real. The venture funding going to privately owned enterprises run by women is abysmal. The lack of women at the funding tables (aka. The Cap Table) and in the boardrooms is atrocious. Knowing this, we knew it was integral we hold this summit.
What ultimately made the event an unwavering success were the women gathered. The energy that was shared and insights that were discussed in the room were contagious. In the words of an attendee on LinkedIn, ‘It was THE ROOM!’ to be in.
Sally Krawcheck, founder of Ellevest, opened the Summit speaking to all things women and wealth. She illustrated how it starts at a young age. Boys are taught to step into an investing mindset and learn that money is free flowing like a river. Girls, on the other hand, are taught a scarcity mindset. ‘Money is a pond, you only have so much, girls.’ Men then think about wealth creation throughout their lives such as investing for asset growth. Women on the other hand, have been taught to be safe. They may learn how to balance a checkbook and save for groceries but they’re not investing given they haven’t learned the skills or stepped into the mindset to do so. (Similarly to women, the queer community and people from diverse backgrounds and other marginalized communities tend to put their capital into traditional accounts where they aren’t earning interest.) This, Sally mentions, is one of the biggest creators of wealth disparity. Women aren’t investing.
There are plenty of ways to support women stepping into wealth creation, investing, and transforming their mindset to align for investing. This was touched on throughout the day, but it’s worth mentioning here. Sally Krawcheck’s Ellevest is one of these platforms. Our event series Table Stakes is another – where we elevate the money conversation even further to offer access and education around private investing, an asset class with its own language, rules, and biases. Our investment group at She’s Independent is another great (and approachable!) path to becoming an angel investor.
The access is there. Democratization of angel and private funding is happening. It’s up to you to figure out if and when you’d like to step into it.
Throughout the day we had rich dialogue around all things angel investing. We had women join us from VC funds, we had corporate women and active angels, founders who invest as angels, lawyers representing VCs and investor portfolios, and more.
Below are some of my favorite takeaways from the panel sessions. I was so impressed with the insight shared, panel and audience engagement, and the furious scribbling in attendee notebooks.
In Portfolio Management we spoke about ways you can track investments. Ensure you have boundaries and aren’t overcommitting but it is a general practice for many angels to step into investment where they know they can support the business through introductions and/or expertise.
The Ins and Outs of Legal and Term Sheets session spoke to market trends around fundraising instruments (more SAFEs and convertibles lately and less priced rounds given the market’s sideways to down-trend.) They additionally touched on what investors (and founders) can think about asking for and negotiating around. The SAFE may be a standard investment instrument, but ensuring you have a post-money cap, and inquiring about some standard terms like approval rights (so that the company can not engage in a major transaction unless you agree) as an investor isn’t a bad idea. Or just ask if other investors received the same terms. These SAFEs used to include a cap and a discount but now just include one or the other. Don’t be too egregious in your asks, especially as a smaller investor. However, you should learn how to negotiate for what you need that’s also appropriate given the circumstances. You can’t get what you don’t ask for!
In The 3 Ps of Allocating Capital: Practical, Psychological, and Personal, we discussed mindset, check sizing, and plans for our future allocations. You can write smaller checks of $1k and STILL be stepping into your influence as an angel. You can additionally gain diversification through investing as an LP (Limited Partner) in a fund. We all have our own journeys to explore. Start thinking of yourself as a breadwinner! (Panelist Jennifer Barrett wrote a book on just this topic.) Stepping into angel and allocating dollars in practice can be a great way to transform your mindset. You can’t expect to achieve 100% confidence but do the thing and START and that will up level your journey tremendously.
In Building your Reputation as an Angel, we learned some key lessons from investors such as checking calculations on conversions, and the importance of checking on the pro forma cap table. Request access to the cap table upfront! You’d hate to get to the finish line and realize something was glaringly off. Maybe a former founder owns a huge portion of the business? You gave a huge chunk of equity to an advisor who doesn’t add value?
In addition to the panel discussions, four women-owned companies pitched the room, because what’s an angel summit without an investment opportunity? Hormone University, novel hydrogels for wound care healing, Gelsana, children’s transportation solution, Kidcaboo, and gut microbiome tech player, Vitract, presented their businesses. All driving impact for women in their own ways. Our audience had questions digging into accessibility and whether folks without money could access ride sharing to school. “Yes!” We even had a young woman from KIPP Charter Schools, one of our event partners, chime in to inquire about whether the hormonal wellness business was applicable to teenage girls. “Yes!”
You curate a group of women-owned businesses for a group of women and something brilliant happens. This happens in our investment group at She’s Independent as well. Hands raise, women speak up. Women without investment backgrounds, and often without industry expertise chime in. They aren’t worried about being shushed.
They are stepping into knowledge by participating. They are stepping into their power.
As the day wound down, Kate, Alex, and I, kept sharing glances. ‘Wow.’ ‘This is amazing.’ ‘It’s all happening.’ Attendees and speakers shared that they didn’t want the day to end. Folks who had traveled in from out-of-state were all smiles as they shared how much they got out of the event. “I’m READY to write a check!”
As I made my way back to Colorado, still winding down from all the energy and connection in the room, I was thrilled to feel the Table Stakes experience continue. I read the labels and packaging of the products in the gift bag. ‘This sustainable product was created by women.’ ‘This woman-owned business gives back to women and to our community.’ The experience continues.
It has been so rewarding working alongside such aligned women to pave a way to the cap table. I hope you’ll join us for a future installation!
Interested in mapping a path to angel or investing with us at She’s Independent?