July 11, 2018

Michelle McCorkell on the GTAN’s Women Invest Today Program

A Conversation with Michelle McCorkell, GTAN’s Membership Services Manager

When it comes to startups and innovation, Kitchener-Waterloo is among the top technology hubs in the world. We link to the country’s biggest, most diverse city and are one of the leading centres for education and innovation globally.

But this wasn’t the case when Golden Triangle Angel Network (GTAN) was founded in 2009. With the economic downturn of 2008, the community faced new challenges, not the least of which was access to investment capital.

Historically, the funding needs of early-stage tech companies in our area were well-served by a number of organizations, such as Communitech, The Accelerator Network, Infusion Angels, and individuals in the area with a strong track record of building tech companies.

But even with this impressive group, a significant funding gap remained. GTAN was created to tackle this.

Next year is our 10th anniversary, and we’re very proud of what we’ve achieved with our members and entrepreneurs. We’ve invested $35 million in over 75 companies and have a membership base of over 80.

What is your reaction to the Angel Network data in the report?

Angel investment is the most significant source of risk capital for startup and early-stage businesses across North America, bringing not only finance, but vital business experience and expertise to enable businesses to achieve their high growth potential. Yet the proportion of women angels of the total number of angel investors remains extremely low.

These numbers remind us of this.

Awareness raising and recruitment to attract more women to angel investing is a critical next step. Getting more women to become investors in early-stage startups will help increase the number of female leaders in the tech sector, and I believe it’ll also lead to higher returns.

What is GTAN trying to do to change these numbers?

GTAN|WIT – Women Invest Today is a program to engage, educate and motivate women to pursue angel investing.

It was a three-part event that had female investors and entrepreneurs engage in important conversations surrounding female representation in angel investing.

GTAN started this program because the industry talks a lot about the growth of female entrepreneurship, but without representation on both sides of the table, among both entrepreneurs and investors, we won’t see real change. As a leading angel group in the start-up ecosystem, we knew we needed to do something.

GTAN’s hope is that by hosting events like GTAN| WIT we will diversify our own group and the angel ecosystem in the KW region. Our goal is to get more women to the table.

The verdict is in: diversity in tech is good for everyone. As tech investors become more diverse, the number of funded entrepreneurs who don’t fit the traditional stereotypes will rise, adding to the diversity of the whole industry.

I look forward to a future where the data Female Funders and Hockeystick gather announces a 50/50 split in male/female angel investors, and also points to the positive impacts that come from having diverse perspectives on both sides of the table.

As told to Hockeystick’s Laura Curk