To date, the funding landscape for both women and minority-owned startups continues to be underwhelming. According to the British Business Bank (BBB) report published last year, in collaboration with Diversity VC, highlighted the difficulties in obtaining funding if you are not connected to ‘traditional’ VC networks that, from the outset, are overwhelmingly male.
The lack of diversity amongst angel investors undoubtedly causes biases in investment decision-making. However, various VC firms have started raising new funds or allocating a portion of their current funds in an attempt to increase diversity in the startup world.
The new programme
Ada Ventures, co-founded by Check Warner and Matt Penneycard in 2019, is is a £30M (€33.2M) pre-seed/seed fund on a mission to invest in founders that have been commonly overlooked by the venture capital industry. In this regard, Ada Ventures has launched a new £250,000 (approx €277K) angel investor programme – Ada’s Angels. It has been set up to help discover a new generation of angel investors, who may have otherwise been excluded from the industry.
According to Ada Ventures, it is named after Ada Lovelace – the Countess of Lovelace and an English mathematician. “She was just 12 when she wrote ‘Flyology’, which described how humans could fly, complete with mathematically and gravitationally accurate diagrams. She was in her late twenties when she worked on Charles Babbage’s notes for the Analytical Engine which predicted the future of computing. Yet it wasn’t until over 100 years later that Ada Lovelace was recognised for the major contributions her ideas made to computer science. Even today, she is a little known figure. Ada Ventures is a fund designed to find and fund the Ada’s of today,” writes Warner in a blogpost.
Funding, mentoring, and more
Notably, Ada’s Angels have already identified five candidates from the firm’s grassroots scouting community. The Ada Scout programme consists of 50 scouts who help identify talent across the country. These scouts are rewarded for both finding those investments – with an upfront fee – and if those investments do well, with a longer term, carry linked incentive.
As a part of Ada’s Angels programme, these individuals will now receive support and mentoring, as they identify their own investment opportunities in the UK tech sector. On top of that, they will be given £50,000 (approx €55,334) – to be split into five £10,000 (nearly €11,067) cheques, across a 12 month period, which they can use to invest in early-stage technology startups. All angel investors will also receive dedicated mentoring as well as free funding from Ada Ventures for a place in Andy Ayim’s Angel Investing School course starting this year.
The final investment decision will be a joint decision between the angel and Ada Ventures. Angels will receive 100% of the carry on their £50,000.
Meet Ada’s Angels
The five candidates chosen for the 2020 Ada’s Angels programme are:
- Anjel Noorbakhsh Ashman – Anjel is the founder of the Iranian Women’s Association, the first and only UK-based association for Iranian women with a mission to inspire, educate, and connect those women.
- Nicole Crentsil – Nicole is CEO of Black Girl Fest, a platform dedicated to Black women, girls, and non-binary people.
- Arfah Farooq – Arfah is co-founder of Muslamic Makers, a community of Muslim changemakers working in and around the technology scene. She is a diversity & inclusion expert with a focus on building inclusive communities and organisations with collaborative cultures.
- David Fisayo – David is a Director at Foundervine, a social enterprise that specialises in digital start-up and scale-up acceleration programs for diverse founders.
- Ash Phillips – Ash is the co-founder of Yena, a global community for startups, which provides accelerator-like business benefits by subscription.
The 12-month programme will run from 26th October 2020 for a full year. According to Ada Ventures, the five chosen candidates have already been finding, promoting, and championing founders to help diversify the industry and break the barriers that can be created because of a person’s gender, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, region, or economic status.
Main image credits: Ada Ventures