Angela Lee: She’s Shepherding 37 Angels

May 3 - On The Dot
FIRST THOUGHT: Women Investing in the American Dream

Recently, as I was wandering around lost in a big hardware store, I strolled down an aisle filled with fences. Yes, fences. One particular fence caught my eye: the white picket variety. This symbol of American success originates from Colonial times, when well-to-do lads would stake their claim of land and proudly mark it with whitewashed boards.

Somehow, I managed to escape the hardware store and live to tell the tale. But it got me thinking about white picket fences, families with 2.5 kids and a dog named Lassie, and just how much we all invest in the American Dream. Today, ponder what your own personal American Dream is and whether you’re taking the steps to truly invest in it and your future.

WOMEN IN NUMBERS: About 19 Percent

Something tells me those Colonial dudes had no clue women would soon be able to purchase land and put up our own white picket fences, and also be able to become successful business owners. Thankfully, women are doing just that, but we’ve still got some work to do, particularly in the women-investing-in-women realm.

In 2014, women made up about 19 percent of angel investors, meaning those who provide startup businesses with working capital, typically in exchange for equity. This represents an increase from two years prior, when women angels accounted for about 12 percent of the market, and ultimately means more women-owned businesses will get startup funding. And that’s a win for everyone!

WOMAN TO WATCH: Angela Lee, Founder of 37 Angels

Believe it or not, many women know a whole heck of a lot about investing, including today’s Woman to Watch, Angela Lee. Smart as a whip and a force for ingenuity, Angela is the assistant dean and chief innovation officer at the Samberg Institute for Teaching Excellence at the prestigious Columbia Business School, and the founder of 37 Angels, a community of women investors on a mission to educate early stage angel investors.

Amazingly, 37 Angels is the fourth company Angela has founded, a real testament to her enterprising mind. In the 1990s, Angela launched a technical-consulting company, followed by an education technology business that helped college students better plan for their careers, as well as a corporate-training company. Now she’s focused on helping women achieve their business dreams.

37 Angels provides members the tools and training to learn about investing, but also how to become investors themselves. This investment network checks out about 2,000 startups a year, eventually investing in about a dozen. And of the 28 companies 37 Angels invested in about a year and a half ago, nine have raised series A capital and five have been acquired.

When Angela gave a TEDx talk in Montreal, she pinpointed something we all face and are all guilty of: biases. Don’t believe you have any? She suggests taking the Harvard Implicit Bias Test to find out. It can be pretty eye-opening. In fact, Angela says such biases affect investment opportunities for women, but they also seep into day-to-day situations. During a funding pitch, for example, investors often ask the male co-founder rather than the female co-founder to answer questions.

It’s precisely this kind of circumstance that led Angela to found 37 Angels, so women can learn the important details of investing—both from the investor and startup perspectives—and gain the confidence to take the entrepreneurial world head-on!


Today’s quote is for all the ladies out there striving for their own version of the white picket fence. Opera singer Beverly Sills said:

“You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

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