African American women are the fastest growing category of entrepreneurs in the country, and flying high as angel investors.
Yet, they are disproportionately underfunded in the startup stages. Founder and CEO of Blendoor, Stephanie Lampkin, and angel investors Lorine Pendleton and Simone Castillo, talked about what they look for in female startups at today’s Entrepreneurs Summit panel, “SistersInc. – Women Angels Funding Female Startups.” These women are key players in this exciting investment trend. Here are the most valuable lessons:
1. You can be a solopreneur. Don’t just hire anyone. Find out what you can do with your own skill set. Meet people and get connected to pitch contests and accelerators.
2. Get financially literate. Download financial dictionaries and understand what the terms mean. Practice talking to investors and getting your pitch right. You don’t want to be caught stumbling over financial terms during an intense pitch competition or even a one-on-one investor meeting. As women, there may be some assumptions that you are not well-versed in investor jargon. Prepare yourself.
3. Get an advisory board. Start making a short list of people you want on your advisory board. LinkedIn connections are a great place to start. Choose wisely because advisory board members can turn into angel investors. Look for people who can help you fill gaps in your network.
4. Figure out which funding route is best. Competitions are best for social entrepreneurs who are solving a problem. Grants from Sam’s Club, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and local economic development corporations, as well as accelerator programs are excellent options to seeking angel investors.
Black women angel investors and venture capitalists have emerged to close the gap—writing checks and launching ventures founded by other black women. Are you ready to take the leap?