Responding to a popular request, we are now sharing transcripts of our investor podcast interviews in this new series. The following interview with Victoria Pettibone was recorded in October 2017. Victoria Pettibone, Managing Director of Astia Angels, a group focused on funding women entrepreneurs. She discusses what they like to invest in, as well as the trends she sees in the deal flow and the portfolio.
Sramana Mitra: Tell us about Astia Angels. What are you doing? What is the focus of the group? What size investments are you making?
Victoria Pettibone: Astia is an organization with a mission to level the playing field for women entrepreneurs by providing access to capital and networks for the companies that they lead. We focus on forging deep relationships among entrepreneurs, investors, and advisors that move into positions of power, equity, and influence.
We value inclusion, innovation, and investment as causative forces for change. Astia Angels is a program of Astia. It came out of our large community wanting to start investing in companies that were applying to Astia. These are companies we were working with in an advisory capacity. We are a group of men and women. It’s very much the philosophy of Astia that it’s important that men and women be working side by side, creating businesses side by side, and investing side by side.
We are global. We have members in the United States, UK, Australia, and Germany. We have just about 50 members who are very active. We started in 2013 and since then, our angels have invested over $16 million into 47 companies. That represents, in syndication, over $175 million into those companies. We have had two exits this year in two very different industries. One was in medical devices. The other was in SaaS and cloud computing. Our portfolio does range across industries.
Sramana Mitra: Let me double-click down on what you said. First and foremost, what is the deal size? What denomination of investments does your group make?
Victoria Pettibone: It ranges tremendously. At the end of the day, the individuals are making their own final decision and the individuals have a range of investment appetite. We have done deals as large as a million dollars that we’ve pooled together as a group. We’ve done investments as small as just one angel going in at $10,000.
As much as possible, we’re usually hitting more of a middle ground around $250,000 to $400,000. Like I said, it really can vary quite substantially. We do invest across borders as well. We have a few investments into UK companies and we are looking at deals from other areas as well.
Sramana Mitra: What about the industry sector? That is also broad for you, isn’t it?
Victoria Pettibone: It is, but we’re focused on women-led teams. All the companies that we invest in must have one woman in a position of leadership holding equity and significant influence. That’s the defining category. We can be very open otherwise. We have a very diversified portfolio that includes tech, med device, consumer, and clean tech. About 50% falls into the tech category. We have a good chunk of medical device and some life sciences.
Sramana Mitra: Our audience is all technology and technology-enabled services. If you double-click down on that portion of your investment activity, what trends do you see in your deal flow? What industry sub-sectors do you like to invest in?
Victoria Pettibone: It’s pretty wide in terms of what we see applying. Because we are so open, we really get a huge range of opportunities. In terms of what people are responding to, interestingly it has less to do with exact sector or focus. It has to do with connection with the team, the CEO, and really believing that that team can execute. Our angels end up investing in areas that they might not have expertise in. Partly, that’s enabled because we have this larger community at Astia.
Beyond the angel members, we have a global community that we’ve been building for over 15 years. These are advisors and experts who help us source and screen the companies. Along the way, we connect those companies to those individuals as advisors. Because we have this screening process in place, it makes our angels comfortable about investing outside of their comfort zones.
When I speak with entrepreneurs and they ask me, “Is this going to be the right industry?” I always say, “Go ahead and apply. We’ll look at it. If it resonates with our angels, you’ll have a shot.”