The inaugural Angel Academe event was on tuesday evening and brought together professional women interested in supporting tech entrepreneurs with some “girl geeks” looking for support.

Sherry Coutu was our keynote speaker and gave an inspiring talk about her career as an entrepreneur (the first company she started was sold to Euromoney and the second floated on the London and NASDAQ markets) and angel investor in over 40 companies including LinkedIn, We7 and Tyze. These companies now employ over 6,000 people and turned over almost £1bn last year. All use new technology to dramatically reduce their cost-base compared to competitors and disrupt large markets.

Sherry quoted a Nesta report which shows that, although risky, the overall returns from Angel investing are higher than gilts, property and shares if done properly. It suggests there are 3 key ways in which to improve your chances of success:

  • Do serious due diligence
  • Invest in areas in which you have expertise
  • Keep board level involvement

After Sherry, we heard from 4 fantastic entrepreneurs:

Jody Orsborne pitched The Backscratchers, a hook-up service for creatives. They’re looking for angel investment as well as organisations and individuals in the creative sectors to join.

Jenny Griffiths has already closed the seed round for her visual search engine for fashion (Snap Fashion) and pocketed a further $100k the day after our event by beating 300 companies to win Cisco’s BIG competition (congratulations Jenny!), but she needs women to download and use her app.

Sara McGinley talked about Tyze Personal Networks. Tyze provides private social networks for people being cared for in their homes. Sara is looking for angel investors and board advisors to help Tyze grow in the UK.

Last but not least, James Tabor told us about Bertie and Bean, the hassle-free kids clothing exchange. He’s looking for female board members, evangelists and users.

The most encouraging thing I heard during the course of the evening is that the average age of the founders of the fastest growing companies in the US is 40 and the average age of UK angels is 53. So if you’re a 40-something like me, we’re still far from missing the boat. But, most startling, only 7% of UK angels in the Nesta survey are women. So it’s time to create a movement! In my introduction I made some calls to action which I’ll repeat here:

  • We can all help tech entrepreneurs. If not as angel investors, then as mentors, advisors and non-execs so stay tuned for future events where you can find great companies looking for our support
  • Please get in touch if you would like to host or sponsor future events
  • Please also get in touch if you want to learn with me how to be an informed angel investor