The Pipeline Fellowship - A New Brand of Angels

BlogHer Original Post

Recently I had the pleasure of catching up with Natalia Oberti Noguera, Founder & CEO of the Pipeline Fellowship to learn more about how they are helping the new breed of women angel investors. Typically only 12% of angel investors are women and Pipeline Fellowship is out to change that. Some recent statistics to that end from 2011 (first and second quarters):

Only 12% of startups pitching for angel capital were women-led and, of those 12%, only 26% secured financing, according to a report by the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire. By the same token, only 12% of U.S. angel investors were women, and only 5% were minorities.

For hybrid ventures - socially minded companies with a for-profit model it can typically be hard to secure funding. By creating a safe space for sustainability entrepreneurship, Pipeline Fellowship trains women philanthropists to become angel investors through education, mentoring, and practice. As part of participants' commitment to the program, they invest in a woman-led for-profit social venture at the end of the training.

The business case for this?

“Firms where women hold top management positions achieve 35% higher returns on equity and 34% better total return to shareholders than their [non-gender diverse] peers.” ( “High Performance Entrepreneurs: Women in High Tech” by Cindy Padnos, Illuminate Ventures, February 2010)

Traditional, in-person conferences in New York and Boston are the mainstay of the program at this point but efforts to expand virtual mentoring are being explored. Entrepreneurs who attend the conferences say that it teaches them what it's like to sit on the other side of the table and helps them get a better sense of what investors look for when considering investing in a startup, as well as giving them the opportunity to learn about and become more comfortable with the investing process and investing terminology.

Inaugural Pipeline Angel, J. Kelly Hoey recently answered a few questions about her experience:

What inspired you to get involved in the Pipeline Fellowship?
Years of writing checks and attending rubber chicken fund-raising dinners. The serious answer? My experience as a member of two not-for-profit boards and numerous benefit committees has made me question the current model for funding and solving social issues.

What's next for you?
Continuing and increased involvement with women entrepreneurs. As a result of the Pipeline Fellowship I've joined the advisory board of The Startup Foundation. I'm also the Executive Director of Women Innovate Mobile (WIM) Accelerator, the first accelerator program for women-led ventures in mobile technology. The founders of The WIM Accelerator, Veronika Sonsev and Deborah Jackson, are two smart, innovative entrepreneurs.

Some recent updates about the Pipeline Fellowship include:

  • Inaugural class invested US$105k in PhilanTech, an online grants management system
  • Launched Pipeline Angels, alumnae network of the Pipeline Fellowship
  • Expanding to Boston this winter
  • Second edition of NYC starts in the spring of 2012
  • Launching executive program for participants based outside of Boston and NYC

If you're interested in educating yourself more about what it is like to be on either side of the angel investing seat, the 2011 Boston Pipeline Fellowship Conference is being held on Friday, December 2, 2011. The Conference is an all-day event on angel investing.

angel investing


Paula Gregorowicz, The Intuitive Intelligence™ Coach
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