This Is What An Angel Investor Looks Like – Janet Hanson

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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)

Janet was recently recognized on Forbes for changing the world of business. In the profile, she states -

“When somebody says, ‘Well, what do you invest in?’ I could say, ‘I own stocks or bonds or mutual funds,’ but I say that I have invested in other women.”

Meet Angel Investor Janet Hanson

How and why did you decide to become an angel investor?
“When I met Andrea Miller at Columbia Business School in 2002, she had interned at Goldman but decided to launch her own startup (Your Tango) after she graduated. I invested $25,000 in Andrea’s company because I loved her energy and her vision.”

What investments have you made?
“I’ve invested in companies launched by women who are all trailblazing members of 85 Broads!”

Company: LearnVest
Founder(s): Alexa Von Tobel*

Company: SoleMates
Founder(s): Becca Brown* and Monica Murphy*

Company: Moms Corp
Founder(s): Allison O’Kelly*

Company: AHAlife
Founder(s): Shauna Mei*

Company: DailyWorth
Founder(s): Amanda Steinberg*

Company: The G Project
Founder(s): Lori Terrizzi*

Company: a yoga studio in Dubai
Founder(s): Noor Sweid*

Movie: Audrey (coming 2013)
Writer/Producer: Sybil Temtchine*

*Women founders!

Best investment in a startup you ever made?
“Over $5,000,000 invested in 85 Broads between 1997 and 2009 to fund our global growth as a unique platform for ambitious, talented women. Here’s my interview with Katie Couric on CBS Evening News in 2007.”

Range of initial investments?
“$10k-$5M+”

What types of companies or industries do you want to invest in?
“Companies founded by women who are passionate about changing the game for women worldwide. By the way, I love Dave McClure — his advice to women to get the lead out and invest in each other was gutsy and spot on.”

How has your background played (or not) a role in your angel investing?
“My business partner, Dort Cameron, invested $1.5 million in my company, Milestone Capital, in 1995. Dort had a keen eye for visionary entrepreneurs — he backed me, no questions asked, and then let our small team build a highly successful asset management business over the course of the next decade. At its peak, Milestone had over $2 billion in assets under management.”

One piece of advice to an angel-in-training?
“Make sure your spouse or partner (if you have one) is totally supportive before you plunge into the startup world. The ride can be scary which is why it takes tremendous intestinal fortitude to stay the course. You both have to be ‘in it to win it’ – even if your partner/spouse isn’t involved in the day-to-day roller coaster ride of launching a company from scratch. Be sure to define what ‘for better or for worse’ really means to both of you.”

One piece of advice to entrepreneurs looking for capital?
“Look at companies that have gotten funding after participating in startup bootcamps run by Astia, Women 2.0, Golden Seeds, 500 Startups, etc. Why were they successful in their fundraising efforts? Also, get up the curve on raising capital on crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter — several of our members have successfully met their funding goals this way.”

What does investing in women-led companies mean to you?
“It makes me feel really smart which is a great way to feel. It also allows me to hang out with other women who are intrepidly investing in female-led startups like Stephanie Newby, Joanne Wilson, Deborah Buresh Jackson, Jacki Zehner, Connie Duckworth and Ann Kaplan. These gals have always believed in the wisdom of investing in other super-smart women.”

Favorite quote?
“Actions speak louder than words.”

Random fact?
“In 2005, I stepped down as the CEO of Milestone Capital to focus on working with Joe Gregory, the President & COO of Lehman Brothers, who wanted to hire the best female talent on the planet. This dovetailed nicely with the mission of 85 Broads which was to invest in trailblazing women, particularly those women who were currently in college and graduate school.

I spent a lot of time on campuses in the US and internationally which was an amazing experience as I was totally blown away by the intellectual firepower these young women possessed. I think they also thought it was cool that I had had a very successful career at Goldman, then was the CEO of my own successful startup, and then created a ground-breaking global community for women to co-invest in each other’s success.

In the summer of 2005, 11 interns spent all or part of their summer at the Milestone Capital ‘clubhouse’ in Greenwich, Connecticut. They were all interested in finance so it made sense for them to intern with me.

I couldn’t think of enough projects for them to work on so we decided to run a ‘lab experiment’ to see if we could figure out why young women thought investing in the stock market was utterly boring.

We created a company called MARKET CLOUT and the tag line was ‘invest in what you love.’ If you loved the company’s products then we figured it made sense to buy the stock. I opened a Fidelity account with $75,000 in cash in it and then my 11 interns came up with companies whose products they loved for us to invest in.

It was a dazzling success because we used our confidence as savvy consumers to become really savvy investors. One of my interns was Alexa von Tobel who a few years later, launched LearnVest.

I was delighted to have the opportunity to invest in her company because I knew she was going to hit it out of the park. My greatest ‘ROI on life’ has been watching young entrepreneurs like Alexa brilliantly and fearlessly go for it.”

Photo credit: Rob Howard for Oprah Magazine

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.