October 12th, 2017

Changing the Global Face of Angel Capital: NACO’s World Angel Investing Summit

Female Funders was in Montreal last week at the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO)’s World Angel Investment Summit. Over 500 investors, partners and industry leaders from around the world gathered for this flagship event dedicated to the global angel investor community. The NACO Summit is a unique opportunity to network with international investors, venture capitalists, and other industry leaders, and get ahead of emerging trends that will shape angel investment for the year to come. One of the key conversations that emerged from the Summit was the need to increase the ratio of women in angel investing to drive better returns through diversity of thought. It was the topic of panel discussions, the view held in talks with both male and female industry leaders and an obvious dilemma when looking out at the event’s predominantly male crowd. The desire for change is there, but more work needs to be done to shift this energy into results.

As NACO is the national voice of angel investment, the announcement of their partnership with Female Funders to support and empower women in angel investing sends a clear message of the importance of diversity of thought in angel capital. The partnership will focus on creating tangible change through community awareness, education programs and membership accreditation for angel investors. By creating more accessible tools and resources for aspiring and experienced angel investors, the partnership will allow both organizations to help angels get access, make better investments and generate solid returns. Leveraging the synergies between well established Female Funders online training platform and NACO Academy content, the organizations will offer access to education programs and co-create new online content for angel investors globally. The measurable effects of this partnership will help us toward our goal of getting 1,000 women to write their first angel cheque.

How Women are Changing the Face of Angel Investing

This year’s World Angel Investment Summit hosted the panel, Lean In: How Women are Changing the Face of Angel Investing. With an underrepresentation of women in angel investing posing a very real problem to the industry, the panel topic covered why it is good business to support more women investors and entrepreneurs and how, as a collective, we can help change the face of angel investing through awareness, education and mentorship. The panel was moderated by Michelle Scarborough, Managing Director, Strategic Investments and Women in Tech at BDC, who started off with the following statistics to support this topic.

Only 7% of venture capital firms have a woman in the partnership. Only 5% of technology startups are founded by women. Female founders are typically still receiving less money than their male counterparts as $58.2B of venture capital went into tech companies that had all men founders and $1.46B of venture capital was invested in women-led tech companies. The average deal size for a women-led startup is $4M-4.5M USD, whereas male-led startups raise an average round of $10M USD.

Despite these facts, investment funds with a female in the partnership see a 25% increase in investment into women led-companies. Also, companies with woman in the C-Suite show a 15% growth in M&A activity. This framing guided the panel in their discussion on the importance of diversity of thought in early stage investing.

Lauren Robinson, Executive Director of Female Funders & COO of Highline BETA, was joined in the panel discussion by Catherine Mott (Blue Tree Allied Angels), Claire Munck (Be Angels - Belgium), Sylvie Pinsonnault (Investissement Quebec) and Magaly Charbonneau (iNovia Capital Partners). The panelists identified a few key hurdles to women writing their first cheques. First, there is a lack of transparency in what it is like to be an angel investor, and what it takes to be one. There are common misconceptions about the type of background, experience and amount of money needed to be qualified. “There are large pools of female corporate executives with net worth and deep domain expertise that are not being leveraged”, said Lauren Robinson. Despite meeting the qualification of an accredited investor and having the industry knowledge to evaluate products and technologies, these women often disqualify themselves as they do not fit the ‘typical’ definition of an angel investor. To hear the stories of other female angel investors and see how they come from all different backgrounds and life experiences, check out our interview series.

To conquer these hurdles, the panelists had the following suggestions for women looking to become first time angel investors.

  1. Invest in something you know.

    Make investments where you have experience in the industry, both so that you can perform proper due diligence, but also so that you can provide meaningful advice that will help steer the startup toward success.

  2. Don’t do it alone.

    Join an angel group or find experienced investors to learn from. It can be intimidating taking the plunge into angel investing. If you are in North America, national organizations like


    are good places to start.

  3. Take action and get educated.

    Build confidence by doing your research and following our

    guide. Blended education provided by Female Funders will give you the skills you need to feel comfortable in making smarter, better deals. To get notified for the upcoming 2018 AngelSchool Cohort,


The panel concluded with Lauren empowering the audience to take action and engaging women executives toward a mission of empowering 1,000 women to become active angel investors by 2020, and stating that she hopes ‘we won’t need a panel like this in the future.’

What are your thoughts? We’d love to hear them in our comments section.