Startup Grind Toronto recently hosted Daphne Kis, managing Director of Golden Seeds, an active angel investing group that focuses on investing in women led and majority owned companies.
With nearly 25 years of experience investing, serving on boards, advising companies, selling and exiting, Daphne’s accomplishments and activities could not all be covered in her introduction. Golden Seeds was founded in 2005 and is one of the most active angel investing groups in North America with a fund of 58 million dollars. Daphne joined the angel fund in 2007 and has worked with many entrepreneurs since.
Before being described as one of the best investors in the world, Daphne’s diverse career started in publishing and planning conferences (pre Ted) to bring technology innovators and tastemakers in technology together. She went on to partner in EDventure Holdings which was later sold to CNET Networks in 2004. She joked that in those years when she was raising two children and managing 20 employees she didn’t get that much sleep.
After giving us an overview of some of her major milestones in her career, Daphne explained her philosophy and how she was inspired by the feminist movement though maintains she is more influenced by the benefits of diversity on boards than women’s rights today. She also mentioned the 20% of involvement in Golden Seeds is from men that agree with the perspective that diversity makes companies more successful and are realizing the benefits of investing with this purpose.
Angel investing in women founder companies is increasing slowly but still represents less than 15%. Daphne explained how diversity on boards helps address more of the consumers’ needs; especially in the case of many social media outlets have limited female representation on their boards despite half their users being women, which has an impact on relevancy
Daphne noted that some of the differences for men and women approaching entrepreneurship and investors is women tend to come in later and feel compelled to be more responsible and tend to get experience and domain expertise before coming into the game. The challenge then rises when her obligations are confronted (starting a family etc.) as the definition of success can vary at different stages for women. The trend for day care subsides is catching up with reality and paternity laws are expanding which is promising for the future.
Women tend to be more revenue driven when leading a company. Another noted difference in her experience is that they sometimes have to convince women that they have a bigger business than they realize. They need help expanding their smaller view of what they can do with the right team and resources. Women tend to underfund and need a big vision.
Startup Grind Toronto audience members were filled with questions to ask the successful entrepreneur and investor about her experience and views. A few travelled in from the US to listen to her speak. It was promising to hear her thoughts and optimism for the future and learn how Golden Seeds is continuing to help challenge the status quo encouraging female led companies to scale and grow in the marketplace.