Angel investor Renata Cooper is creating a fund under the banner of Forming Circles Global, with an aim to invest half a million dollars over three years in female-led technology startups.
The fund will also provide grants of $5000 for small businesses and $10,000 for social enterprises operating in developing countries, but there will be at least one “serious angel investment of $50,000 to $100,000” per year.
Cooper has operated Forming Circles for a number of years to amplify social and ethical entrepreneurship and provided small grants under the brand, while Cooper as an individual has made $2 million in angel investments. From now on, Cooper says it will be Forming Circles making the investment – initially with her money, but with the potential to broaden the funding sources in future.
“Forming Circles itself will be an equity holder in other companies,” Cooper says. “It means that Forming Circles has ownership and will be a valuable asset on its own, rather than cash-draining company I’m always giving money.”
Forming Circles has a new website with the tagline “invest, amplify, achieve”. It will also encompass a founders’ circle to provide mentoring, and Cooper is anticipating the involvement of women she has invested in, such as Ivvy founder Lauren Hall and Workible co-founders Fiona Anson and Alli Baker.
Her big goal is to grow the organisation in scale and impact once she is able to successfully exit her first round of angel investments.
Cooper’s biggest investment to date is $1.5 million in event management software company Ivvy. Recently she backed Workible, a software startup that matches jobs with candidates’ availability. The amount was undisclosed but Cooper says it was more than CloudPeeps but less than Ivvy.
Cooper says she met the Workible founders, Fiona Anson and Alli Baker, at an event organised by women’s business networking organisation Heads Over Heels a few years ago, and has been impressed with their progress.
“As an investor I really believe that they are on trend and the HR industry really needs disruption because it’s still fairly sluggish,” Cooper says. “I love the combination of a young person and an older woman where Fiona comes with finance and corporate experience and Alli represents the new young worker, the generation of Millennials that we’re hoping to capture. It’s the perfect combination.”
Cooper adds that she is hoping to see a return sooner rather than later.
“I also loved they’re aiming for fairly quick exit and at this time in Forming Circles and my investor cycle, I’m looking for fairly fast exits,” she says. “It felt like perfect fit.”
Cooper says the new set-up will also help put a line under how much of her personal and family wealth she is prepared to risk until she starts seeing returns.