Business angel helping female founders to reduce Gender gap

business angel

A focus on the the world of startups with female leadership

The mission of A4W, Business Angel association made by women, is to help female startup founders.

In this article we talk of Gender gap and over performance of startups led by women in a world that changes at the speed of light

Let’s meet Lorenza Morandini, business angel, MD of A4W

Lorenza Morandini, Top Manager in the manufacturing sector, graduated in Bocconi and INSEAD MBA. Currently Angels4women managing director and board member, as well as Impact Hub Private Investor, board member of Sit Group and of Esprinet and Adjunct Professor at Luiss Business School.

Hi Lorenza, let’s begin right away talking about gender gap and Angels4Women that you lead as Managing Director. How is A4W supporting female entrepreneurs?

Angels4Women is the first business angels’ group, mainly women composed, focused on women-led startups and promoted by AXA Italia and Impact Hub. The mission of the Association is to bring together our investor-members with the best innovative women entrepreneurs, with the target of early-stage investments.
How do we support female entrepreneurship? We are basically an Investors’ Club, so, by investing in innovative female-led startups, but also supporting their growth every time we find an interesting scalable project and most of all a united and responsive team. 
In fact, many times happened that, at the first attempt, some startups have been rejected, but after following our advice they were then chosen to present their project to our members during the periodic meetings of the Association. 

Taking a step back, as what we are is always the result of our past experiences, currently you are a Business Angel, and you went from completing an MBA at INSEAD, with an A+ mark in Strategy & Financial Engineering, to becoming an entrepreneur. However, it looks like that you really want now to inspire other aspiring businesswomen and support them through your angel investing: we would like to know more about this giving back: why do you that and how?

In a world where meritocracy does not always drive choices and actions, when I recognize deserving people, I find it crucial to encourage, guide and grow them. I would say that I practice my giving back through angel investing and mentoring. The mentoring is an activity that fills me with energy thanks to mutual exchange and that gives me the possibility to have a vision towards the future.

In addition, I am also involved in the Fulbright commission for the selection of PhDs and MBAs in the United States. I take great pleasure in this activity because thanks to the Fulbright scholarship I had the opportunity to study in the United States. An experience this, that has really changed my life both personally and professionally.

What are Angels4Women metrics? How many members does it have? How many startups did you screen so far? In how many did you invest?

Angels4Women, has been founded at the end of 2018 by AXA Italia and Impact Hub, together with 20 female Business Angels, to support female entrepreneurship and promote angel investing. In these last 2 years it has grown a lot. In fact, until today it counts 65 members, a sponsorship with DAZN Italy and many partners among the Italian and international innovative ecosystem.

Since now, on our platform have applied more than 200 startups coming from all over Italy and from abroad.  28 of these have had the opportunity to present their projects to the members of Angels4Women during the 9 regular meetings that have been held since now.

7 have been the investments since today: 5 women-led startups, Ricehouse, Cynomys, Chitè, Renoon, Orange Fiber and two Impact Hub’s acceleration programs. Personally, as business angel I invested in Chitè, in Renoon, in Impact Hub and in another women-led startup called Foodlogica.

What is your role as A4W President of the Screening Committee? How does the screening process work?

The Screening Committee is composed by 5 members including the President and its purpose is to go through thorough analysis of the projects presented on the platform used by Angels4Women to select startups.

The screening process can be outlined in the following way:  there is a pre-screening phase in which the entrepreneurial projects presented on our platform receive a first evaluation; this first step is followed by a more accurate assessment in which the projects are analyzed at economic/financial, fiscal, and legal level. Since this second phase evaluations, the screening committee chooses at least 6 startups which are invited to pitch their projects during an online session. Of these 6 startups, only 3 are usually chosen to pitch during A4W’s 4 annual meetings, where they can meet business angels.

How important is the human element in selecting a startup? What does leadership mean for a startup and how do you identify tomorrow female business leaders?

We used to say: “the idea is important, but the person much more”. Sure, there are many criteria that can help a startup’s evaluation, but at the end what is important is to find a united team and collaborative leaders, with listening skills.

What is your role as managing director of the association? Did you build a strong relationship with some of the partners?

As Managing Director of Angel4Women, in addition to coordinating the team of the Association, I deal with startups’ scouting and new members’ recruiting. I carry out these last 2 activities mainly by attending events, unfortunately today only digitally, and by creating a wide network of partnerships within the Italian and international innovation ecosystem. Today, in fact, we have many partners with whom we collaborate, including Invitalia, Associaizone IBAN, the Doorway platform, Startup University, The MrK Challenge of the University of Monaco, GoBeyond by Sisal, Oltre Venture, Business Meets Innovation of the Italian-German Chamber of Commerce, Angels4Impact and many others. 

As A4W, together with other partners, you arrange a training class named: “How to become a business angel”. Where did the idea come from? And why do you think promoting a culture of angel investing in Italy is particularly important?

“How to become a business angel” is an executive course for aspiring business angels, for Angels4Women and Angels4Impact members, for entrepreneurs, professionals, or mentors, interested in angel investing. 

It is developed by A4W, together with Impact Hub, Angel4Impact, IBAN Association and Marisa Bellisario Foundation.

It was mainly designed to give the required professional skills to our members, to be able to play the role of Business Angel in the best and most profitable way. I think that promoting the angel investing culture is today particularly important, because it can give us a key to face the future economic challenges in a context of great volatility and in which innovation will necessarily play a crucial role. So where can we find the highest concentration of innovative values? Among startups. And since for their nature they have more difficulty in finding funds through traditional channels, the role of business angels become crucial for their growth.

What do you teach as Adjunct Professor at Luiss Business School?

Since October 2019 I am Adjunct Professor at Luiss Business School, where I teach on Supply Chain and innovation topics. Now I am scientific director and teacher of the Flex executive Program in Supply chain management.

If you are interested in Business Angel Networks, please read more on: Business Angel Networks: the main ones in Italy

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