Photo credit: Erica Torres
The 2nd Pipeline Fellowship Conference, organized by Founder & CEO, Natalia Oberti Noguera, and COO, Lauren Abele once again was a plethora of inspiring conversation. The Pipeline Fellowship, which trains women philanthropists to become angel investing in women-led for-profit social enterprises, launched their New York Class at the conference. As attendants dove deep into the world of angel investing, here are some key reflections that I took away from the conference:
An increased focus on social: Staying true to the core of the Pipeline Conference, the theme of diversity and social in investing was widely discussed with its importance emphasized over and over again. The main instructor at the conference, Susan Preston, General Partner at Clean Energy Angel Fund (CalCEF) sums it up best “We are coming to a point in society where we are recognizing that you can’t just make money–you have to make money in an ethically and socially conscientious way. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be wealthy by your investments, but it just means that the companies we want to invest in have to have integrity. They have to have certain aspects in their practice that relate to the sustainability of our earth, of the environment, and of the economy.”
The importance of collaboration: In the due diligence and negotiation simulation session, the attendants shared their thoughts on angel investing and how this lens changes with a women in the picture. Attendants shared how important it was to construct a culture of respect for the entrepreneur particularly with the founder of the business. Through re-framing a negotiation as a collaborative approach with respect and honesty as the underlying values, investments are likely to be more successful by creating a strong investor-investee relationship. Integrity is key to continuing business.
The Age of Women Angels: At the conference, it was increasingly clear that women needed to take a more center stage approach in the angel investing world. Women may see opportunities that men don’t. It is also no secret that an entrepreneur can benefit from having both a mix of men and women angels to receive diversity and balance of advice. In terms of diversity, during quarters 1 and 2 of 2011, only 12% of U.S. angel investors were women and only 5% were minorities, according to the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire. It was evident that the conference ensured that when diversity was included in conversation, it not only encompassed sector and industry, but also race and women.
There is still much to be done in the world of women angel investing, and the Pipeline Fellowship is a great example of driving the spotlight toward women angels. Time will tell how much this sector shifts, but in the meantime, keep your eye out for the New York Class of the Pipeline Fellowship!