Meet the Investors Who Invest in Women: Barbara Clarke
SheStarts uses this series to profile those investors who identify investing in women as a significant part of their investing strategy. The goal of this series is to feature these investors to make them more accessible to women entrepreneurs who are seeking capital.
Q. What was the path you took to becoming an investor?
A. My decision to become an investor wasn’t obvious at first. I thought I would open an accelerator or maybe join a startup myself. Then I decided that I wanted to focus my skills in specific areas, rather than in a broad manner like you need to do at an accelerator or in a company. I also thought I would only make one or two investments rather than the over 25 I have made to date. Being an investor has been so surprising to me, particularly how much a enjoy my network of fellow investors and entrepreneurs.
Q. When did investing in women-run companies become a priority for you, and why?
A. When I decided to devote more time and capital to angel investing, I knew I wanted to focus on companies with women on the founding team. Data shows that companies with women on the founding team typically outperform monoculture teams. So, this focus on women-led teams isn’t just something nice to do, it’s also a way to have a better return.
Q. How do you source your investment deals?
I have my eyes and ears wide open for great companies, and I leverage my extensive network. My focus in 2017 is to only invest in high growth companies that have a woman of color on the founding team. There are plenty of companies out there that are attractive opportunities that meet this criterion. Some great sources are Pipeline Angels, Astia, Portfolia as well as The Refinery, BIG Accelerator.
Q. Tell us about a recent investment you’ve made that you’re excited about.
I’m about to make a follow-on investment in CareAcademy which is an on-line platform for training caregivers. I have believed in this entrepreneur for several years. I was her first investor in the fall of 2013. Now, she has the backing of Rethink Education, the premier edtech venture capital company. Finally, after so many years of hard work, CareAcademy’s CEO Helen Adeosun is getting the support she needs. I admire her so much and it has been my pleasure to be on this journey with her as an investor and advisor.
Q. What is one piece of advice you typically give first time women entrepreneurs?
Communicate often. As an investor, I want to know what is going on. Send me a quarterly update at a minimum. Monthly would be totally fine, too. Tell me what is going on — the good and the bad. Often first time founders think that investors only want to hear that everything is going fine. That’s not true. We can’t help if we don’t know what you need. Have a specific ask — contacts, advice, information — in every communication. It’s the number one mistake founders make. Also, don’t overthink how I can help or underestimate the reach of my network.
If you would like to contact Barbara, you can find her on Twitter at @beclarke.