It’s Not Just Angel Investing, It’s a Movement

The venture statistics for the first half of 2023 are in… and women are still not getting adequate funding.

Kelley Arena
4 min readSep 5, 2023

According to TechCrunch, all-women-founded startups received just 1.6% of venture capital investments during the first half of 2023, on pace to be worse than the paltry 1.9% of VC funding allocated to women in 2022… which was already worse than the prior year’s 2.2%.

Somewhat encouragingly, the data on mixed gender teams are more promising , with founding teams with at least one female founder receiving 28.1% of VC funding.

Anecdotally, this is tracking. I recently asked a female founder who is fresh off an exit what she would do differently if she had to do it all over again. With zero hesitation, she answered, “Have a male co-founder”.

There are clear reasons why this is the case- and it is not because companies with women at the helm fare worse. In fact, the data shows the opposite. According to the Kaufman Foundation, privately held companies led by women are more capital-efficient, achieve 35% higher ROI, and when venture-backed, actualize 12% higher revenue.

There is already so much written on investor bias. Much of the investor community in venture capital are white men. Because of inherent bias, this seems to be the driver behind the mismatch of investment opportunity versus capital allocated. I am more interested in the solutions. How do we rectify this egregious disparity, which one of the biggest gender gaps still left standing?

I have an unoriginal hypothesis that has been guiding my work at Golden Hour Ventures: society needs more women investors. Historically, women have been undereducated regarding their financial empowerment and more risk averse. Closing the knowledge gap AND risk gap is the upstream action that will lead to longer term equity.

Guerilla VC using SPVs and Syndicates

With less than 2% of venture capital going to women-founded companies, many are taking to a bottom-up, community focused approach to create a more equitable landscape.

Investing in the private markets is a powerful opportunity to be impactful, by funding the women-founded companies today that we wish to see in the Fortune 500 in a couple of decades. But angel investing typically requires a $50,000 investment minimum. One could invest as a limited partner in a VC fund focused on women founders, but LP minimums typically start at $100,000-$250,000.

So how do we tackle the issue of high barriers to entry, gate-kept deal flow, and an industry that is shrouded in jargon? How does one address the confidence issue that precludes more women from making the jump into private market investing?

The answer: syndicate style fundraising.

Syndicates allow private market investors to start their angel investing journey with checks as low as $1,000, compared with the larger, more typical angel checks of $100,000, or the typical entry fee for a limited partner in a venture fund of $100,000-$250,000.

This reduced barrier to entry allows investors the opportunity to “learn by doing”, building confidence in their investor track record, and the opportunity to invest in the companies aligned with their values.

The Impact to Founders

Raising via syndicate is a dynamic way to combine the collective capital and expertise of women. By using SPV’s (Special Purpose Vehicles), a community can pool capital at low individual check sizes ($1,000–50,000), and as a collective entity, make significant investments into the companies and founders they deem worthy.

Investor syndicates, when executed with intention, can create impact far beyond capital infusion; it creates a village of invested ambassadors. These syndicates act as an ongoing community. Within this community, investor gatherings serve as a way to support the founders in real time, as well as a networking opportunity for the investors within it.

The syndicates I have been lucky enough to lead (alongside pioneers like Annie Evans of Dream Ventures, Nina Stepanov, and Fran Hauser to name a few) have 20–40 investors across industries (venture capitalists, current founders, exited founders, media executives, attorneys, bankers, public relations executives, technical advisors, community builders, marketing experts and beyond). It is extraordinary what can happen when these groups gather with the intention of supporting the founder; investors that have written relatively small angel checks have gone on to make incredible impact to founders.

Some examples of action items from recent syndicate gatherings include introductions to new investors, real estate sourcing, brand partnerships, warm intros to national distribution partners, influencer deals, organic press and PR, and so much more.

There are plenty of folks leading the charge on this front. Angel syndicates (such as Pipeline Angels, She’s Independent, VC firm The Helm’s angel syndicate, Hustle Fund’s Angel Squad) are actively funding via syndicate, and active angels such as Annie Evans of Dream Ventures, Alyssa Arnold of Pearl Influential and Maggie Sellers have used SPVs to power companies they believe in while educating a new crop of investors.

Want to get involved? Check out any of the organizations above, or reach out here to be a part of the Golden Hour Ventures syndicates, showcasing venture-backed, female-founded startups focused on making the world a little bit better.



Kelley Arena

Founder, Golden Hour Ventures. Angel Investor, Syndicator, Supporter of Women Founders. NYC.