Women’s Equity Lab Toronto (WEL) early stage venture fund launches its second fund in 2 years.
March 7, 2023
WEL Toronto launched its second fund in February – bringing together 50 women investors from the GTA to pool their capital to invest in early stage Canadian businesses.
WEL Fund 2 follows the debut Toronto fund launched in 2021. WEL is an investing and learning platform where a group of 40-50 women can get access to early stage deal flow, and learn how to invest alongside other women and experienced investors.
“We’re thrilled to get our second fund up and running,” says Sally Morris, Managing Partner, WEL Toronto. “The response to our first WEL Toronto fund was extremely strong, and we are very happy to be able to bring 50 more women into our second capital raise.”
WEL Toronto is part of WEL National – an organization founded in 2017 with a mission to get more women involved in angel investing. “Women controlled capital can be a powerful force for change. Investment capital controlled by women continues to grow, and we’ve seen an incredible opportunity to bring women together to actively participate while providing essential financing to early stage companies.” says Stephanie Andrew, Founding Partner, WEL.
WEL Toronto has invested in tech-enabled startups from a cross section of industries ranging from environmental, medtech, beauty and the funeral industry. With growing momentum, access to more deals and a larger investment pool, WEL Toronto is poised to become a meaningful force in increasing diversity in the flow of private equity.
Our mission of ’more female investor representation now, equal representation someday’ is resonating across the country,” says Jane Tucker, Managing Partner, WEL Toronto. “In addition to Toronto, WEL has chapters in Victoria, Vancouver, and funds launching in Manitoba, Silicon Valley, and an Atlantic Provinces group fund made up of investors from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI and Newfoundland.”
The WEL investing model was created to address the chronic and systemic underrepresentation of women in early stage investing. By reducing the barriers to entry that have typically kept women out – gender bias, lack of previous investing experience, capital needed to get involved – our Learning On InvestmentTM (LOI) approach is designed to facilitate entry into this investment class. Launched in 2017, WEL now consists of a powerful community of over 150 women investors from across the country managing a growing portfolio of investments which should reach about 40 company investments by the end of the year. Over 70% of WEL investments are in women-run and women-led businesses. WEL not-for-profit was created to support national fund operations with funding from the Government of Canada.
Two new Women’s Equity Lab (WEL) early stage venture funds launch across North America
March 2, 2023
Canada’s First All-Female Angel Fund Network expands in Atlantic Canada, Silicon Valley, US and Manitoba.
In an effort to support a growing number of women seeking education, opportunities and involvement as angel investors across North America, new WEL investment groups have launched in Atlantic Canada and Silicon Valley. Each is led by an exceptional team of diverse and highly-qualified women. Incorporating these women-led funds in an ecosystem that is historically underrepresented by women, they are providing crucial and intentional funding to founders and leveling the playing field for women founders and investors.
“Straight away, there was so much interest from women in each of the Atlantic provinces to become investors – that excitement certainly helped to create a lot of momentum in setting up the fund quickly,” Andrea King, Managing Partner, WEL Atlantic.
WEL Atlantic, an initiative of the Atlantic Women’s Venture Foundation, is the only pan-Atlantic angel fund investing across all four Atlantic provinces: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island. WEL Atlantic was launched under the leadership of seasoned female investors Andrea King, Laurie MacKeigan, Lauren Ledwell, and Kathryn Lockhart. The first WEL Atlantic fund of 40 investors will provide much needed capital to female-founded / female-led companies in this region. The Centre for Women in Business at Mount Saint Vincent University assisted with WEL Atlantic’s launch.
WEL Silicon Valley (SV) launched under the direction of Managing Partners, Leila Yari, Joanne Fedeyko, and Jyoti Lamba. These women are leading investment efforts for a global group of Limited Partners across the US, Canada, Europe, UAE, and Asia, into US based C-Corporations, primarily based in SV. The fund will align closely with veteran angels in Silicon Valley and the famous SV incubator, Y-Combinator, which gave birth to Airbnb, Dropbox, Coinbase, Instacart, Doordash, and many others. “We are thrilled to get this incredible group of female investors together to be on the cap tables of Silicon Valley startups. Our goal is to have these women well-versed in angel investing, and hopefully investing alongside each other for years and decades to come. We are happy to grow the WEL ripple effect beyond Canada with this first US-based fund,” Leila Yari.
WEL Manitoba is spearheaded by Joelle Foster, who is co-founder and the CEO of North Forge Technology Exchange, a technology incubator accelerator that also runs the largest publicly accessible fabrication lab in North America. The five MPs have been working diligently to get an exemption from the Manitoba Securities Commission that will allow half of the fund to consist of non-accredited investors. WEL Manitoba has decided to move forward with the first fund with accredited investors only. They are hoping their second fund will include non-accredited investors once an exemption is given.
“Women controlled capital can be a powerful force for change. Investment capital controlled by women continues to grow, and we’ve seen an incredible opportunity to bring women together to actively participate while providing essential financing to early stage companies. Our mission of ’more female investor representation now, equal representation someday’ continues with the growth of our organization.” Stephanie Andrew, Founding Partner, WEL.
The WEL investing model was created to address the chronic and systemic underrepresentation of women in early stage investing. By reducing the barriers to entry that have typically kept women out – gender bias, lack of previous investing experience, capital needed to get involved – our Learning On InvestmentTM (LOI) approach is designed to facilitate entry into this investment class. Launched in 2017, WEL now consists of a powerful community of over 150 women investors from around the world managing a growing portfolio of investments which should reach about 40 company investments by the end of the year. Over 70% of WEL investments are in women-run and women-led businesses. WEL not-for-profit was created to support national fund operations with funding from the Government of Canada.
For more information on how to participate in WEL please refer to our website at www.womensequitylab.com or contact Glynnis Vaughan at 858-401-3558 PST. For WEL Atlantic contact Andrea King at 709-725-4788 AST.
Women’s Equity Lab Celebrates International Women’s Day with National Hire, as new Toronto Investment Group takes off
Victoria, British Columbia March 8th, 2022
Women’s Equity Lab (“WEL”) is pleased to announce that after an extensive search, Glynnis Vaughan has joined the organization as the new National Program Manager. Glynnis will focus on leveraging opportunities to manage the rapid expansion of WEL Investment Groups across North America. Glynnis’ position was funded by a federal government grant awarded by Women and Gender Equality Canada.
In addition to the operational Investment Groups in Victoria, Vancouver and Okanagan, Toronto recently launched as well and is looking to make its first investment soon.
“WEL was created to address the chronic and systemic under-representation of women in early-stage investing,” says Jane Tucker, a GP with WEL Toronto. “And the reaction to our newly formed Toronto Investment Group (which now has a 50-person waiting list), has been very enthusiastic. We’re proud to celebrate the momentum behind WEL on International Women’s Day and can’t wait to see what happens when more and more women are helping to shape the future of our economy.”
With the addition of Toronto, more than 130 women are now active angel investors through WEL and are affecting change in the gender inequality in cap tables.
WEL expects new Investment Groups to open soon in Manitoba and Silicon Valley as well, the first US location.
This rapid growth could not have happened without our dedicated General Partners who lead each local Investment Group and the legal support of Osler, for which WEL is tremendously thankful.
Our vision is a future with equal shareholder representation, because when women’s perspectives and insights inform more investment decisions, we all profit.
The first step is to facilitate the entry of women into the area of early-stage investing, as currently less than 24% of angel investors are female and are even less represented in venture capital markets. We offer a unique, collaborative pooled investment approach where women learn through pooling minimal risk capital and collaborating to source, qualify, evaluate, make investment decisions, and monitor investments together.
Today, WEL represents a powerful and growing network of over 130 women investors, with Investing Groups in Victoria, Vancouver, Okanagan, and Toronto and soon Manitoba and Silicon Valley. We have collectively invested in 18 different businesses so far, including personal health, agritech, e-commerce, green tech, SaaS, self-publishing and plant-based food products.
For more information on how to participate in WEL please refer to our website at www.womensequitylab.com or contact Glynnis Vaughan at 250-507-9067.
Women’s Equity Lab – Canada’s First All-Female Angel Fund Expands Across North America
VICTORIA, British Columbia, July 14, 2021
Women’s Equity Lab (WEL), Canada’s first all-female angel fund is expanding across North America. WEL was first launched in Victoria in 2017 with the support of the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) and has recently completed the investment of its third round. The Vancouver chapter was launched in 2020 followed by the Okanagan in early 2021. New groups are currently setting-up in Toronto, Winnipeg and Silicon Valley. To support the roll-out, WEL has just finished a complete rebrand and launched a new website at www.womensequitylab.com to help businesses apply for funding and for investors to find a WEL fund in their region.
WEL is comprised of groups of diverse, successful women who share expertise, insights and perspectives to make smart investments in new businesses. Our approach is a fun and accessible way to learn from the experience of early angel investing, activate capital to advance our economy and further gender equality. Across regions WEL teams closely collaborate, network and share deal flow, education, expertise and resources to support our investees and our communities and syndicate deals with other angel groups and government funding agencies.
Winnipeg, Toronto and Silicon Valley and the second Vancouver fund are actively recruiting 25-30 investors each, who commit $5,500. Partners meet monthly and collectively develop an investment thesis, assess deal flow and make investment decisions. Each fund invests in from three to five deals over a one-year period.
WEL Founding Partner (Victoria WEL Fund), Stephanie Andrew, also co-founder of the Capital Investment Network and Partner in Cindicates, a Victoria-based VC fund, started WEL because women are significantly under-represented in venture investing.
“In British Columbia more than 80 women are now active WEL investors and over $1M has been invested to date. With new WEL groups actively recruiting investors in Toronto, Winnipeg and Silicon Valley, the valuable impact of women shareholders is soon to rise exponentially and will result in more diverse corporate teams and board, which has been proven to lead to better outcomes.”
NACO is Canada’s national angel capital industry association and represents 45 regional angel investment groups and 40 accelerators and incubators. Says CEO Claudio Rojas, “We are committed to increasing diversity within the angel investor ecosystem to ensure that innovative entrepreneurs have access to the capital and connections they need to build Canada’s future. We are pleased to support the expansion of the Women’s Equity Lab and applaud the incredible work they are doing to activate more women angel investors.”
Vancouver’s WEL fund was co-founded in 2020 by Irene Dorsman who is also CEO of Vancouver’s Angel Forum – one of Canada’s longest serving angel networks. “There are important initiatives to support women entrepreneurs, but it is equally important to create more female investors. Not only is this key to growing financial assets owned by women, it also ensures early stage companies benefit from a female perspective as they grow their business.”
The Okanagan WEL fund was launched this year and is the largest to date with 30 investors. The group, also known as Okanagan Women’s Mentoring and Angel Fund (WMAN), is focused on BC Interior ventures with one or more women on the management team and with women holding a significant equity interest.
WMAN co-founding partner Camille Saltman is a retired tech CEO who recently moved back to Canada from California. After launching a venture accelerator for The University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus, and looking back on her own experience fundraising and mentoring ventures, she realized there is still a big gap still to be filled. “Women-led ventures, after mentoring, more than double their ability to land bank financing but struggle to get angel and venture funding. Male-led ventures have the opposite experience. Why? Bank financing requires solid metrics but recent studies show angel and venture funding is still based on many subjective measures that have no bearing on the quality of the deal.”
The Women’s Enterprise Centre (WEC), a non-profit organization devoted to helping BC women start, lead and grow their own businesses issued a 2021 report, The Path Forward: Advancing the funding journeys of women entrepreneurs and it showed that over 61% of women entrepreneurs do not see current funding models fit their needs. Jill Earthy, CEO of WEC, says, “WEL unlocks new capital from women leaders with diverse backgrounds to participate as investors, while at the same time filling an important gap in the financing path for women-led businesses and all entrepreneurs.”
For more information on how to participate in WEL please refer to our website at www.womensequitylab.com or contact Stephanie Andrew at 250-857-6369 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Women’s Equity Lab Brings More Women into the Investment Space
Fewer than 20 per cent of Canadian angel investors are women. Women’s Equity Lab has set out to shift that statistic, helping women learn the ins and outs of investing and to make money while they’re at it.
Women’s Equity Lab (WEL) is a Victoria-born innovation that gathers local women to pool their money to invest in early-stage startups. Members — 23 in the first round, 20 in the current round — meet regularly to learn how to invest in companies, discuss opportunities, vet deal flow and make investment decisions. In the most recent round, each participant invested a minimum of $6,000 for a pool of $100,000, which was then used to co-invest in companies the group thinks will generate the best return.