Thursday, August 27, 2015

In 1998 a group of 12 women...

...met at Laird Norton (thanks to its CEO, Debbie Bevier) because we each wanted to have access to the same deal flow that male angels enjoyed but with added goals over an above great returns on our risk capital. Sue Preston, the Managing Partner of the Seattle Angel Fund, was one of those 12 women as was I. Indeed, we wanted more than just good deals!  We wanted to also encourage and support women entrepreneurs, grow the pool of women angels in our region, and increase the number of women board members.

Sadly, Seraph Capital Forum recently reached the end of its lifespan. Why did this group, the first women only angel group in the country, lose its mojo? I believe it’s because we were an all volunteer organization. We could not do all that was needed to drive an angel organization that continually needed to add members, secure deal flow, tout our statistics, and be the executives/wives/mothers/school volunteers/etc. that we also are. Simply put, the members reached burn out trying to do it all. I hope they appear at the Seattle Angel Conference, become members in other angel groups, take on more board roles, encourage more women to be active investors, and mentor more women founders.

It’s awesome to see women today who have BIG IDEAS and expect to receive the same large funds for their companies as their male peers. Sheryl Sandberg’s book, LeanIn, has had great impact I believe. Women were exhorted to expect more from our significant others and to be authentic about who we are rather than to try and be more like men. I recently was speaking with a women founder and her comment to me says a lot: “I’ve learned to outsource most of my wifely duties so I can focus on what my company needs, I can’t do it all nor do I want or need to, that’s a myth.” It doesn’t mean she is a bad mother or a bad wife, it means she is focused on what is important to her family and her company.

My goal with this column is to create a conversation about the growing force of women from STEM career initiatives targeted at growing diversity in tech, to highlighting the capital efficiency of women founded companies as well as the superior returns of these companies to their investors, and creating awareness of how men and women entrepreneurs differ that leads to embracing the differences so you can increase your returns by investing in good deals. I hope there are more Jonathan Sposato types who invest in diverse teams because he knows they will make better decisions by their diversity of thought and perspective. Some great readings on these topics are listed below.

ROI of Women
Women Entrepreneurs: Bridging The Gender Gap In Venture Capital
How Are Female Entrepreneurs Different From Male?
10 Reasons Why Women Make Better Entrepreneurs
Access to Capital for Women Entrepreneurs

Janis Machala, Managing Partner - Paladin Partners LLC

Originally published in the Seattle Angel monthly newsletter, to get great articles like this early, sign up now.