You don’t need wings to be an angel investor.
“I got involved with angel investing accidentally,” says Angela Lee, founder of 37 Angels, a New York City–based angel investing network for women. “That’s how most people get involved—if they tell you otherwise, it’s not true!”
Angel investing is simply the name for investments—usually of about $25,000 to $100,000—in early-stage start-ups made by individuals with their own money. When her good friend needed money to film a movie, Lee invested in the project, which went on to become a finalist at the Sundance Film Festival.
“I liked doing something unique with my capital, and I loved helping early-stage entrepreneurs,” Lee recalls. “I’ve started several companies, and it’s nice to be on the other side, able to help.” After realizing her interest in angel investing, she started 37 Angels in September 2012.
We spoke with Lee about angel investing, her one-of-a-kind training program and the importance of involving more women in investing.
First of all, why 37 Angels? Why not 26?
Angela Lee: Currently, only about 13% of angel investors are women. We want to bring that number up to 50%, and 37% is that ground we need to make up.
How is 37 Angels different from other organizations?
We are the only organization I know of that’s all women, but invests in both male and female ventures. Many organizations focus on women entrepreneurs, which I obviously support, but I really want to empower the female investor while investing in male and female ventures.
We’re also very transparent, in all dimensions. For example, the angel investing process usually takes three to five months from pitch to decision, but we promise the entrepreneurs that it will be five weeks or less until they hear a decision. Because of this, we’ve been able to get great deal flow for an organization of our size. Many of us have been on the other side of this kind of experience as entrepreneurs, so we know what it takes to be truly “founder friendly,” as they say. We’re all about efficiency.