On this month’s episode of Worth’s Leading Voices series, Laura Gerson, the director of Women and Worth, interviewed Kelley Arena, founder of Golden Hour Ventures, and Halle Kaplan-Allen, director of revenue at Sydecar. They discuss democratizing investing for women and share their insights on how women can gain more opportunities in finance by breaking through traditional barriers and leveraging emerging tools and resources.

Before founding Golden Hour Ventures, Arena gained experience working in finance at companies such as Johnson and Johnson and Merril Lynch. Today, as the founder of Golden Hour Ventures, Arena is an angel investor on a mission to make women rich by bringing them closer to their finances. She works to activate more female angel investors and support female founders. 

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Kaplan-Allen started her career in nonprofits and then shifted to tech startups, eventually leading her to the world of venture capital and investing. She now works at Sydecar, where she’s responsible for growing the ecosystem of venture capitalists. She is working towards “building financial infrastructure to facilitate private investments, and not just empower but hopefully create the next generation of investors.” Through the efforts of Sydecar, which provides software tools that help manage the complicated and tedious administrative side of financial investing, she is allowing businesses more time to focus on their investments. This is a tremendous tool because, as Gerson points out, a large percentage of raised capital gets sunk into the administrative and legal fees associated with raising a fund—whether that’s an SPV or a venture fund. 

Both women agree that investing in women is a sound investment. As finance is traditionally a male-dominated industry, the first part of their discussion focused on democratizing investing by removing barriers to entry into the investing world. Interestingly, women are responsible for around 80% of consumer consumption decisions but are not equally represented in investment. 

Arena points out that there are pathways for women to get more involved in investing—such as angel investing and establishing a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV). SPVs are entities formed to pool capital to invest in a single startup/private company, allowing a more significant impact through a pooled investment. It also creates a safe place for knowledge sharing and learning about a potential investment opportunity. 

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Through her networks, Arena can connect accredited investors who believe in the potential of a particular company and form an SPV. She explains that “with the power of 25 to 50 Women in a syndicate, all of a sudden, we’re at a quarter million dollars or half a million dollars. And that’s a big deal.” By encouraging group investment, which entails a smaller financial commitment, they hope to increase the only 1.9% of venture capital that went to female companies last year. Arena notes that investors naturally gravitate toward causes they believe in. So, with more women writing the checks, they will naturally choose support female-led companies. 

Arena shared several of the 18 female-founded companies she has invested in, such as  L Catterton and Another Tomorrow. She also explained that if you want to be involved in her network, you can visit her website GoldenHourVentures.co, or reach out by email. Once you have done this, you will be kept in the loop with any startups she is raising funds for or other opportunities—such as events where you can hear more about specific companies and be a part of a greater investing community. 

For Kaplan-Allen and Sydecar, she hopes their SPV products will allow investors to experience returns and create a track record that will eventually give them access to larger funds, whether from their network or larger companies. Sydecar “wants to grow with those customers that are having that success” and hopes that this success can lead to creating a Venture Capital (VC) fund where the manager has complete control over which companies they will invest in. As Sydecar is focused on the administrative aspects, they don’t do any deal flow sharing. They are not a marketplace, but rather a facilitator that encourages communities of women to learn and grow while investing in corporations they are passionate about. 

Mark-Bertolini-Aetna

Techonomy2017 Conference in Half Moon Bay, California, Tuesday, November 7, 2017. (Photography by Paul Sakuma Photography) www.PaulSakuma.com

Laura closed the panel by posing the question of how one might be able to support female founders if they are at the point where they can’t start investing. Arena emphasizes that because women control the majority of consumer spending in our country we “know where our money goes,” so if you take the time to research and follow companies that are aligned with your values, you can help those companies succeed. You can also get involved in organizations that will further educate you on investing, such as She’s Independent, Golden Seeds, Pipeline Angels, and so many more. Kaplan-Allen emphasizes the importance of becoming more educated and even shares how you can organize an SPV without being accredited. 

Leading Voice’s next episode will be on April 19th, where we will discuss building real estate portfolios. Plus, be sure to join us in person, on April, 26th, for the Annual Women and Worth Summit

Watch the full episode below.