In 2015, women represented 25% of all investors, 29% of founders seeking early-stage funds, and 24% of founders with angel-backing. These statistics mark a drastic increase from historically low figures, with numbers continuing to climb today. Two of Houston’s most active women angel investors, Juliana Garaizar, Managing Director of the Houston Angel Network, and Diana Murakhovskaya, Co-founder of Monarq, stopped by Station for a deep dive panel discussion, moderated by Station Houston Co-founder and CXO, Grace Rodriguez, into the changing technology landscape. Their top 3 tips for aspiring women entrepreneurs and investors are below:
- For-profit can also mean high impact. During the discussion, Juliana shared: “Many women commit time and money to non-profit and philanthropic efforts, but don’t think about impact investing.” There are many startups that women can invest in that incorporate some sort of social impact goal within their mission and vision. Local startups and Station member companies BrainCheck, Tech for Justice and GroupRaise are all examples of for-profit organizations working to solve social or health issues. Giving money to social impact startups can be a win-win for many women who would normally donate that money to non-profit organizations: By investing in a social venture, you can impact your community while potentially making a return that you can then reinvest in other social ventures or causes.
- Capital isn’t the only way to invest.For people who are looking into tech investments for the first time, Diana advised that “a good way to begin investing in startups is to provide time and expertise in exchange for equity.” For some, the risk associated with startup investment can be a source of discomfort. A good way to learn the ropes without taking on financial risk is to offer advice and mentorship in exchange for “sweat” equity in the company. Many startups are in need of successful executives, professionals, and subject matter experts to help them develop and grow their business. Sweat equity is useful for both sides to not only to build value in the company, but also get hands on, practical startup experience while doing so.
- Open doors for others. While the numbers for women investors and founders are steadily improving, there is still a lot of room for growth. Grace had this to say about Station’s efforts to include more more women in the tech community: “A recent ICIC survey reported that only 20% of startups at high-tech U.S. incubators and accelerators are owned by women, who tend to not participate in the programming and resources to the same degree as men do. While Station’s percentage is higher (25%), we work to do better by actively seeking and inviting women entrepreneurs, mentors and investors — as well as women-supportive allies — to participate in our programs, advise one another, and speak at our events. I believe the best way to support women entrepreneurs is to connect them with community, contacts and contracts; and we built Station to serve that purpose. Helping others eventually helps us all.”
Thanks to all that attended and offered excellent feedback! As promised, we’ve provided links and resources referenced during the discussion below:
- Venture Deals by Brad Feld
- Kauffman Fellows Report – a forward-thinking articles from global network of innovation ecosystem experts
- Podcast: Getting Angel Investment, with Juliana Garaizar of the Houston Angel Network
- Women make a pitch for business and for each other, Houston Chronicle
- Hello Alice – first AI platform for women entrepreneurs
- Circular Board – collaborative accelerator for women entrepreneurs
- 500 Startups – early-stage venture fund and seed accelerator
- Female Founders Fund – an early-stage fund investing in the exponential power of exceptional female talent
- InnovateHER Competition – a nationwide business competition to drive attention and resources to innovative products and services that make our lives easier and longer
- Portfolia – entrepreneurial investing platform designed for women
- Pipeline Angels – a network of new and seasoned women investors
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