The 2012 Boston Pipeline Fellowship Pitch Summit, currently being hosted at the Cambridge Innovation Center, represent rarities that are not often found in the world of angel investment.
The attending entrepreneurs are women that have created socially-responsible startups, and all of the angels are women as well. According to the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire, the latter make up only 12% of investors.
These angels are determined to place their bets on one of the nine women-led for-profit startups – $50,000 will go to the winner of the summit. “It’s a different model of funding ventures, one that is aimed at encouraging more women to raise money through angel investing and venture capital,” said angel Janet Simpson Benvenuti and President of Circle of Life Partners, LLC.
Although the angels appear to have been doing this for years, they are, in fact, still in training and part of an angel-development program created by Yale graduate Natalia Oberti Noguera in 2010. “We train women philanthropists to become angel investors through education, mentoring, and practice, “ said Oberti Noguera. The fellows invest their time and money in exchange for equity and a board seat at the completion of the program.
The angels-in-training are from different backgrounds with years of experience ranging from law, psychology, finance, health care, and entrepreneurship. “I went to a women’s college and worked in traditional finance. This is really the first time I’ve been in a forum with all women,” said fellow Katherine Collins, portfolio manager and head of research at Fidelity.
Collins was joined on the panel by eight other fellows who listened to the 20-minute pitches. The entrepreneurs presented their companies with slides, and some, like Prosperity Candles – a candle making venture that helps empower thousands of women in places like Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraq and Rwanda – passed out actual product.
Another enterprise, Making Care Easier, showcased a different social venture, where online and mobile solutions are used to help families take an active part in caring for their elderly parents. “It’s hard when families and friends are spread all over the country or don’t know how to help, but we’re solving these challenges, “ said Julie Fry, founder of Making Care Easier.
The company selected from the 2012 Boston Pipeline Fellowship Pitch Summit will be announced at the Investment Announcement Reception in May, but everyone agreed that the event was already a success. The general consensus was one of inspiration and a larger sense of community. “I love working with startups. It was really wonderful to be around such strong women,” said fellow Cameille Preston, Ph.D., and Founder of AIM Leadership, LLC.
Pipeline Fellowship is planning to launch in the Bay Area this fall and will open a call for applications later this spring. Women interested in becoming a Pipeline Fellow (an angel-in-training) can learn more here: http://pipelinefellowship.com/apply.
Women entrepreneurs interested in applying to present at a future Pipeline Fellowship Pitch Summit can sign up for the mailing list here: http://pipelinefellowship.com/pitch.
Guest author Melissa Pocek is a Boston based writer and has covered national issues, local events, and professional profiles. She admits proudly that her interests, such as frequent attendance of music festivals, writing about new media and technology, and worldwide sampling of regional foods and wine, extend into a passion that fuels her writing. Find her at www.melissapocek.com and on Twitter @melissapocek.