This Is What An Angel Investor Looks Like – Angela Lee

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Women 2.0 profiles women angel investors in our weekly “This Is What An Angel Investor Looks Like” series.

By Angie Chang (Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Women 2.0)

After completing the Pipeline Fellowship (women philanthropists become angel investors and invest in a woman-led for-profit social venture) earlier this year, angel investor Angela Lee decided to launch her own angel network that isn’t focused exclusively on investing in women-led social enterprises. 37 Angels is a training program and fund for women angel investors launching in November. In its inaugural year, 37 Angels will select and train 10 women leaders to become angel investors.

Women investors are rare – only 11% of investment partners at VC firms are women and 15% of angel investors are women.

Women 2.0 promotes initiatives to increase the pipeline of women investors, because women investors are more apt to be directly connected to and able to attract female-led ventures and provide the capital needed to take their ventures to the next level.

Meet Angel Investor Angela Lee

How and why did you decide to become an angel investor?
“A good friend of mine had created her first feature length film called “Hiding Divya”. It had been featured in the Asian American Film Festival and she was a Sundance Finalist, but she was having trouble receiving funding for the film. I decided to invest in the film because it was a story that I thought needed to be shared with the world (the film tackles the tough issues of mental illness in Asian American households). ”

What investments have you made?

Company: Sweet Riot
Founder(s): Sarah Endline*

Company: Legend FC
Founder(s): Michael Haskamp

Company: DayOne Response
Founder(s): Tricia Compas*

Movie: Hiding Divya
Writer/Producer: Rehana Mirza*

*Women founders!

Range of initial investments?
“$25k-$50k”

Number of investments a year?
“2″

What types of companies or industries do you want to invest in?
“All four companies I have started are services businesses and three are in education, so that is an area where I think I can bring the most value to the companies I invest in. Other industries of interest are healthcare IT, education technology and real estate.”

How has your background played (or not) a role in your angel investing?
“I have started four companies and am a strategy consultant (McKinsey alumnus). I like that I can bring a balanced perspective to the companies that I invest in. I can give strategic business direction that is grounded in the realities of being an entrepreneur.”

One piece of advice to an angel-in-training?
“Look at at least 50 deals before you invest in one. You can invest in one of the first 50 you see – just make sure you’ve looked at 49 others before you write that first check!”

One piece of advice to entrepreneurs looking for capital?
“Learn how to describe your company in one sentence.”

What are some investment deal-breakers?
“At the end of the day, I’m investing in the founders of a company. The best idea or largest market opportunity or most buttoned up IP won’t stand a chance in the hands of less than competent founding team. So I’m looking for people who are smart enough and confident enough to stand by their business ideas, but flexible enough and adaptable enough to know when to pivot. And if you can’t describe what your company does in one sentence, I won’t take a meeting with you.”

What is your investment style?
“I only like to be hands on only where appropriate and where I can add value. For example, the film that I invested in (Hiding Divya) ended up having a large release in the university circuit. Psychology departments were using their film as part of their coursework since the film deals with mental illness. I teach at NYU and Berkeley and so was able to use my connections there to help promote the film.

Contrast that with Sweet Riot (a chocolate company). While I love chocolate, I have much less experience with consumer packaged goods and retail distribution. Sarah knows that she can call me with questions or for an introduction to a key contact in my network, but I invested in Sweet Riot because I trust Sarah and her vision. I don’t want to get in her way!”

Favorite quote?
“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.” – Yogi Berra

Random fact?
“I applied to culinary school the same time I applied to business school. There is another life out there where I’m the head chef at a fabulous restaurant!”

If you are financially able to support women entrepreneurs by investing in them, check out the Women Invest Now (WIN!) Challenge hosted by 500 Startups and the following organizations offering training for women angel investors: 37 Angels, Golden Seeds and Pipeline Fellowship.

Have you been trained as a woman angel investor?

Let us know how the experience was in the comments below!

Angie Chang is Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Women 2.0, a media company offering content, community and conferences for aspiring and current women innovators in technology. Our mission is to increase the number of female founders of technology startups with inspiration, information and education through our platform. Previously, Angie held roles in product management and web UI design. Angie holds a B.A. in English and Social Welfare from UC Berkeley. Follow her on Twitter at @thisgirlangie.