‘One of our big things is the lack of female role models, we need more case studies and more women talking about their success stories. This is all about awareness and building confidence.’ said Jenny Tooth OBE, CEO of UK Business Angels at the inaugural Women Angels of the North event.
At North Invest we seek to provide an inclusive and empowering platform, regardless of gender or other stereotypes. We aim to provide start-ups and those looking to grow their businesses with access to the very best relevant and passionate investors, both male and female.
Our shared vision with UK Business Angels and Growth Capital Ventures to empower, inspire and work together to create a shift within the Northern Powerhouse launched with great positivity and excitement. We are building the foundations of an investor group that has a strong sense of community and pride.
As we continue to grow our networks of industry leading women that need support and confidence on their investor journeys, our very first Women Angels Forum sought to bust many of the myths and barriers that surround Angel Investing.
Panels on the day included a range of women business leaders from tax, accountancy, marketing, law and business and female business angels.
Helen Oldham co-founder NorthInvest and advocate of diversity within the tech industry ended her roundtable by asking her panel to share compelling reasons to become an Angel.
NorthInvest Angel Investor Sarah Jones encouraged women to ‘come out!’ and declare that they are an Angel Investor. ‘It’s a special feeling to give someone support when they need it. I love the idea of contributing to the North as the place to be for entrepreneurs. You’ve only got one shot at life so you’ve got to have interesting experiences.’
Newly appointed NorthInvest Board Director Eve Roodhouse cited, ‘there are so many interesting entrepreneurs just waiting for support, there is more potential then you can imagine out there. The choice of Leeds as a venue for the first Women Angels Forum says a lot about how much of an impact it is making as tech hub of the North.’
NorthInvest Angel Helen Gilder said, ‘applying knowledge from a past career and using it to help start-ups is really rewarding as well as encouraging Northern business to grow. Women are great at using their personal connections to connect businesses with opportunities, rallying support and surrounding themselves with people who have different perspectives.’
Karen Sadler, business tax consultant at Garbutt & Elliott, said that there were considerable tax benefits to the investment process and that more needed to be done to educate the public about this.
Most believe that that angel investing is only for the super-rich, with the belief that you have to commit very significant amounts of finance in each company, but you can invest in a business for as little as £10k.
Meg Karidis from Crowdcube re-emphasized how you can be an Angel Investor with small amounts of money, ‘it’s all about having that drive and determination to help others succeed, something which women are very good at doing! Online platforms have helped make investment mainstream by breaking down barriers and opening up investment to a wider amount of people.’
Jenny Tooth commented, ‘many women have seen Dragons’ Den and think you had to be like Deborah Meaden.’ That is not the case at all.
It all comes down to the fact that ‘Women Angels like to come up with a proper plan and invest in a disciplined way.’ Explained Jane Booth, UBS. We are good at researching opportunities and being detail oriented and we care about the person we are investing in.
Female founders supported by Innovate UK shared their experiences and highlighted the importance of developing national and regional innovation programmes that target women to ensure that their businesses are more attractive to investors. Innovate UK is doing phenomenal work in developing programmes for women founders. It is quite likely that getting a women investor on board will give their business a distinctive edge, but, founders need to build their brand image first. Patricia Niccola from Seedrs, commented on the importance of building up a brand, through clever PR strategies. ‘By working on your brand image you become more investable to others.’ This idea can be applied to entrepreneurs and investors building their profiles.
It is clear from having discussions with several attendees that we should be creating more support networks amongst women and getting them to talk about their investor journeys so others feel more confident in doing the same. This can be done by organising more events such as the Women Angels Forum and attending regional Hub groups such as those we run at NorthInvest that offer one to one support, mentorship and guidance on a range of investment issues.
Collectively we are unstoppable, and this event is only the beginning of a transformation of the investment landscape within the North of England. All it takes is a belief that things must change and women coming together to make it happen. Women need to stand up and tell people they are Angels or want to be Angels, whilst celebrating our business successes and growing our Northern economy for the better.
Please visit our websites and follow us on social media for updates on future events!
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