Why male angel investors are backing women-led companies

Loretta McCarthy, managing partner of Golden Seeds

January 9, 2018

Gender-diverse boards of directors and management teams produce superior investment results for shareholders. This is well known, and research has proven it repeatedly. Gender diversity in our own group adds a needed variety of perspectives in evaluating companies and helping them succeed. That’s why, since the very beginning of Golden Seeds in 2005, we have welcomed both women and men into our network to help us find great women-led and gender-diverse companies. Today, 20 percent of our more than 275 members are men.

But what’s in it for the men of Golden Seeds?

While they follow multiple paths to the rooms where women entrepreneurs make their pitches, the men in our organization all have one thing in common — with each other, and with our women members. They’re looking for great investments, and they trust the Golden Seeds process to reach them.

A common goal: above-market returns through investment in women-led businesses

As new Golden Seeds member John Martinson, founder of Edison Partners and chairman of Martinson Ventures in Pennsylvania, said recently, “Over 40 years in venture capital, women have been among the top three executive positions in one-third of my best investments. I’m looking for investment returns, and in my experience, women deliver.”

Despite this pattern, Martinson observed women entrepreneurs with multiple successful businesses struggle to raise capital for new ventures. He mentioned a recent Golden Seeds investment.

Bill Whitaker, who co-chairs the Health Care Sector Group at Golden Seeds and is based in Seattle, first came to Golden Seeds after being introduced through a friend. He noted many men join this way, on the advice of an acquaintance or spouse, but they stay based on the potential for their investment goals.

“There’s emerging evidence, and it’s well known in Seattle, that corporations with both men and women in leadership tend to function better, not just in subjective metrics, but in real market metrics,” said Whitaker. “Having managed a group of physicians through the years, I know from my own experience how important women are to balance men in decision-making processes.”

A cardiologist by profession, Whitaker noted women’s leadership in the life sciences market is growing.

Creating lasting impact for investors, entrepreneurs and beyond

When David Nethero, joined with his wife, Susan, they had already worked together to build a successful Atlanta-area business. The company, Intimacy, served women customers and employed a predominantly female staff, and eventually had a successful exit. As marketing, retail and financial experts, David said he and Susan never expected to get involved with healthcare companies, but that’s what happened when they joined Golden Seeds and met Susan Catalano, the founder and chief science officer of Cognition Therapeutics, which develops novel therapeutics for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

As a Golden Seeds member, Nethero co-led the deal with Cognition Therapeutics, ultimately working to raise awareness among his Atlanta-based network to get involved, as well.

He said, “I now recommend to anyone who is interested in this type of work to look at Golden Seeds. There are good opportunities for returns on investment, and you can also immediately see the benefits to the entrepreneur. That can be really fulfilling.”

A collegial angel investing network “that makes life fun”

Rob Delman, a Golden Seeds member based in New York, got interested in angel investing in 2005. An entrepreneur who made a successful exit when he sold his company, Delman sought out an angel network that would value his experience as a business owner.

“Golden Seeds is very welcoming in how members interact with each other,” Delman said. “It’s a structured environment, where members can easily and quickly get integrated, get involved and get the benefit of lots of different areas of expertise among the group.”

The onboarding process for members eager to learn about angel investing is among the things that sets Golden Seeds apart, said Delman, who is now one of the lead instructors for the Golden Seeds Knowledge Institute.

Whitaker agreed the Golden Seeds network holds additional value for its members. He said, “There is a real collegiality and depth of expertise, so members can learn across areas beyond their professional expertise. We expend our efforts in exciting areas along the lines of excellence, and that’s what makes life fun.”

Building a network passionate about startup businesses

Across every sector and throughout the United States, Golden Seeds members meet more than 1,000 companies each year. To properly evaluate these opportunities, we must have a diverse membership with diverse views and life experiences. This is why the men of Golden Seeds are among our strengths as one of the largest and most active angel networks in the country.

Learn more about the Golden Seeds Investor angel network.