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  • Writer's pictureChelsea Burns

Women Vetting Women: The Pipeline Angels Process

Updated: Sep 16, 2020

“Multiple, unrelated people have come up to me and said “you have to meet this woman, Catalina”

“The guys running the center told me to ‘pay attention to her’...”

“I met her 3 years ago at a conference. I liked her energy right away. We started to meet for coffee regularly in Ann Arbor and since then I have acted as a mentor and advisor.”

“She has an infectious personality so people want to help her”

Connecting with entrepreneurs is my driving motivation behind investing. I’ve never been a numbers person. I was always a solid B/C student in math. Anthropology on the other hand was a subject that made sense and evoked a deep curiosity. As I’ve mentioned before, my background in anthropology has proven highly relevant throughout my angel investing path thus far. When investing in early stage companies, one of the most important parts of due diligence is analyzing the founder and the team culture. The team’s ability to execute, pivot, and succeed are a few key metrics any early stage investor must consider.

As due diligence lead on LoanSense, I was responsible for calling various references to gather insight into Catalina and her team. I had met Catalina once before at the pitch summit and from the very beginning it was clear that this woman was smart, passionate, and going big places. However, it wasn’t until my phone calls with a few of her advisors and previous investors that I truly learned about the fire behind this inspirational female founder. The reviews of her were thoughtful, honest, but most of all glowing. I do not exaggerate when I admit that one of her advisors nearly brought me to tears when she spoke about Catalina, her drive, and the impact she was building in the world.

What Does Pipeline Angels Due Diligence Process Look Like?

Pipeline Angel’s mission is simple: to change the face of angel investing. Its goal is to train women and non binary femmes to be angel investors so that they can invest in female and non binary femme founded businesses. After the first introductory weekend, each member goes back to their respective city and attends their local pitch summit. The new members, alongside more seasoned members, spend a day listening to pitches from a diverse group of entrepreneurs. At the end of the day, the new members select three companies that they will conduct due diligence on over the next few months. At the end of the program, each city will commit to invest in one company from their local pitch summit.

I learned a lot conducting due diligence from my Seattle cohort. The way they analyzed the different markets we were reviewing, the questions they asked the founders, and the various perspectives they brought to the decision making process proved invaluable. We were a diverse group of five women. I was the youngest at 32 years old and the only non woman of color. Each woman in my cohort is a leader in her industry and has worked hard to accomplish the success she has today.

The final stage of the program was to pitch the company we chose to invest in to the greater Pipeline Angel group to encourage others to join our funding round. This network of females and non binary femmes around the United States had joined in previous years and are now part of the angel network. This monthly deal flow call is truly history in the making. The group is diverse. Folks of color equal (if not out number) white members. Discrimination against sex and gender is unwelcome. Instead a safe space is created for women and femmes to gather, sharpen their investing acumen, pitch companies they have sourced, and make impactful investments in communities traditionally isolated from venture capital. The members are leaders in their field. They are ambitious, dedicated, smart, and successful. I am proud to be part of an organization doing such important work and I am excited to work alongside a diverse group of founders creating impactful businesses that serve their communities.

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