October 20th, 2017

Interview: Kelly Hoey


J. Kelly Hoey shares her story of reinvention from corporate law to early-stage investing in this edition of Lived It. Kelly is the perfect example of how female professionals can empower the startup ecosystem and reinvent themselves in the process.

A networking expert, writer, speaker, and author of Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships In a Hyper-Connected WorldKelly highlights the important role networking plays in building your career as an angel investor.

Meet Kelly

Current Job: Author, Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships In A Hyper-Connected World

Hometown/Currently located: Victoria, B.C. / New York City

Education: BA (political science and economics), LLB

First ever job: weekend receptionist and cleaning floors at my father’s veterinary clinic.

First job out of university: legislative intern before heading to law school then an articling student at Miller Thomson.

What are you currently reading: Samantha Irby’s, We Are Never Meeting In Real Life

Typical work attire: jeans, white shirt, great shoes.

Hobbies: networking, writing, and travel are my work and hobby these days. No “this or that,” it is all integrated.

Angel Investors Kelly Admires: The Gotham Gal, Joanne Wilson. Backstage Capital’s Arlan Hamilton. Jerry Neumann, Neu Venture Capital. Mountain Man Ventures and Innovation Collective’s Nick Smoot. Kathryn Finney, founder of digitalundivided and the BIG accelerator. Kathleen Utech, Core Innovation Capital. Jessica Peltz-Zatulove, MDC Ventures. Jim Estill, CEO and president of Danby Appliances. Relentless Pursuit Partners’ Brenda Irwin. SheEO, Vicki Saunders. Henri Asseily, Leap Ventures. The limited partners in The JumpFund. I have a long list, I could go on and on!

Journey to Angel Investing

“My career story is one of reinvention (or perhaps a journey to realizing my potential?) and it has come about because of the relationships I have built over many years. My career started in law as an articling student at Miller Thomson in Toronto back in 1991. I practiced corporate law until 2002 before I moved into law firm management. Informational interviews, volunteering on bar association committees and proactively attending industry conferences enabled that initial career switch. Becoming involved in a global network of women executives and business owners in 2009 really cracked-open the career possibilities for me. Initially as a member then as the first president of the network, I had the chance to highlight my knowledge and interests in front of a diverse (skills, experience, job title, industry, sector, region) audience. I gained exposure to the New York startup community, learned about a (then) new initiative to get more women investing in early-stage companies (Pipeline Angels) and was selected to be in their very first cohort. Continuously connecting with others, whether that is via a blog or newsletter, on Twitter or in-person and sharing what it is I do and care about, has lead to my most interesting career opportunities and explains where I am today.”

First Investment

“My first investment was in Levo (a professional network for us millennials) and that was purely based on the founder, Caroline Ghosn. Early stage investment is all about the people, not simply the idea and I believed then (as I do today, six years later) in Caroline. Caroline and I met through the New York startup community – and an invitation to write a career post on the Levo blog (based on other posts of mine she had seen). Launching a startup and scaling a company is difficult, really difficult. It takes its toll on people – including their closest relationships. That is why believing in the founder is essential. The trust in their integrity carries you through the challenging times and the bad days.”


“Portfolio diversification is one reason. And I live my motto ‘invest in the change you want to see in the world.’ If I want to see the products, services and yes, founders I want on the market, then I have to put my money where my mouth is.”

“We can sit on the sidelines and complain that there are not enough women founders getting funded or we can pull out our checkbooks and do something about it. Talk is abundantly cheap. And remember, the best form of investment is a paying customer. Take a look at the products and services you are buying or referring. Based on your purchasing habits, are you actually sending opportunities to women?”

“We can sit on the sidelines and complain that there are not enough women founders getting funded or we can pull out our checkbooks and do something about it.”


“The funds I chose to invest in focus on B2B and enterprise technology, as well as technology disrupting industries based on network effects.”

Deal Flow

“I have chosen to be an investor (Limited Partner) in two funds (Laconia Capital and Lattice Ventures) – so I let others run around, meet, screen and select the startups to invest in! I realized that while I have a financial interest in having emerging tech in my portfolio, my personal interest in selecting companies (and undertaking the extensive due diligence) is low. The funds I am invested in allow me to stay connected to the startup community and mentor or advise as and when I have the insights and inclination to do so.”

Taking the Plunge

“I signed up for the Pipeline Angels Boot-camp to demystify the world of angel investing. I recall during the program a male investor sharing that ‘he trusts his gut’ when investing and my initial reaction was, ‘I have a gut, I can do this.’ The boot-camp not only explained the how and why of angel investing generally, it helped me personally understand how I wanted to engage and invest. For me, angel investing is not a solo activity. I now take a portfolio approach and I like to take the investment journey with others.”

What surprised you about angel investing?

“Angel investing is a career, not a pastime. I have a lot of admiration for those who are ‘full-time’ angels. They are not only committing capital, they are also committing their experience (mentoring and advising), contacts (industry introductions) and of course, reputation.”

The Power of Networking

“Networks are essential for angels! Investing is more than mere money and in fact, the investment you make in a startup is the least of the resources you bring to the table to help them. You bring your existing network (office, school, family etc.) as well as your new network (other angels, venture capitalists etc.). It is essential for angels, especially those who are new to the game, to network within the broader early-stage investment community.”


"I’d strongly suggest taking a boot-camp program so you can understand how you want to invest. I quickly realized that I needed to invest in a group where others had different points-of-view and strengths. And start networking with both the angel investor and startup community, to learn the types of companies you want to invest in and how you want to invest (i.e. angel group or LP)."

"I’d strongly suggest taking a boot-camp program so you can understand how you want to invest."


"Being curious, being open to new ideas and seeking feedback is essential for success in our fast-moving, hyper-connected world. Mentorship – both giving and receiving – is a way to tap into ideas, and information. As well as putting yourself in front to opportunity. Best way to find a mentor is to understand the specific insights you’re seeking or information gap you want answers on. Read blogs, listen to podcasts, soak up information as people are always willing to mentor those who are committed to learning."