Program for Women Angel Investors Coming to Columbus, Looking for Participants

A new program looks to build a stronger network of women angel investors in Central Ohio. The nationally-recognized Pipeline Angels program is coming to Columbus, offering a bootcamp for new investors, as well as a pitch summit where the newly minted investors will back their first business.

In partnership with the Center for Social Enterprise Development, six women business leaders are behind the local push to introduce women to angel investing, especially when it comes to social enterprises.

We want to help women gain the practical knowledge needed to be confident angel investors,” says Shelley Bird, one of the local women leaders. 

Bird and her peers – Carol Clark, Lisa Courtice, Nichole Dunn, Tracy Maxwell Heard and Susan Rector – are already experienced investors, but are looking for up to 10 local women to join their ranks by completing in the inaugural Pipeline program in Columbus.

A desire to learn more about investing and a vested interest in supporting social enterprises are important factors for participating in Pipeline Angels. Allen Proctor, president and CEO of the CSED, says some of the most ideal applicants might be those already providing social impact through charitable contributions.

To be eligible for the program women must also:

  • 1. Meet one of the definitions for accredited investor ($200,000 annual income, net worth of $1M or $300,000 in joint income with spouse).
  • 2. Be interested in a group learning model.
  • 3. Have a passion for social entrepreneurship.

Women selected for the program are asked to pay $4,500 for the bootcamp which requires about a two-day time commitment per month for six months. After the pitch summit, each woman will also be required to invest at least $5,000 in a women-led for-profit social enterprise.

Proctor sees some big benefits to Pipeline Angels, two of the most appealing being its short-term commitment and low-dollar risk. Typically, joining an actual fund can mean an eight to 10 year commitment at a price tag of $30,000 – $50,000.

“This is a wonderful kind of toe-dip,” Proctor says.

Once the investors in training complete the bootcamp and investment, there are no further requirements – they can exit investing.

“If they do like it, we have places for them to go so they can do some additional investing,” Proctor says. 

The hope is that the Pipeline Angels will build, well, a pipeline of investors for groups like X Squared Angles or the CINCO Fund that’s focused solely on social enterprises. It will also help close the gap on the lack of women investors.

“Women are under-represented in the angel investing world,” Clark says.

“This is an area where women predominate in other countries, but they don’t predominate in the U.S. and I think women have an awful lot to offer in this space,” Proctor reiterates. 

The program has proven its power in other cities, graduating 180 women who have made a collective $1.7 million investment in more than 20 companies. Now its Columbus’ turn to cultivate local investments.

“The stronger our local ecosystem, the more female entrepreneurs will seek funding here and may even choose to build their company in Columbus,” Bird says. 

“Columbus Pipeline Angels provides a focused program of business leadership for women who want to align their investments locally and drive economic security in Central Ohio via women business owners,” Dunn adds.

Applications for investors are being accepted on a rolling basis. Women interested in participating should apply online as soon as possible.

Online applications are also being accepted for the Columbus Pitch Summit on Thursday, April 7, 2016. Eligible businesses must have a female owner or co-owner with a for-profit legal structure and social and/or environmental mission. Pipeline Angles will determine which businesses are ready for investment to pitch at the summit. From the group, the angels will select the business in which to make their first investment.

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