Q & A with Carol Clark, X Squared Angels - Innovate New Albany | New Albany, Ohio

Q & A with Carol Clark, X Squared Angels

What is X Squared Angels? When did you start it?

We held our first members’ investment meeting in. We have 16 accredited investor members. We hope to have 25 by mid-year and 50 by the end of 2013. We welcome all accredited investors who have an interest, female and male, to join us! TechColumbus is serving as X Squared Angels’ fiscal agent as well as lending support in the form of meeting space, public relations and administrative help. Equally as important they have been an active cheering section for our efforts. The Ohio TechAngels have been our guiding light in terms of the logistics of starting an angel group; they have offered help with processes, documents, training and advice.

What prompted you to create an angel group for women-owned startups?

In late 2011 I joined the Ohio TechAngels Fund III and became active working on the Due Diligence team and evaluating companies, investing and serving on the Executive Committee. With their encouragement, I attended the Angel Capital Association’s annual meeting in Austin, Texas, and had the opportunity to meet angel investors from all over the world. At this meeting I met several women from the Golden Seeds angel group and became intrigued with their investment strategy of investing in women-led companies. During the next several months, I attended two golden Seeds Forums (monthly members’ meetings) in NYC and was very impressed with the quality and variety of the women-led organizations I saw. I then became an active member of Golden Seeds and decided that we needed a similar group in Ohio and in the Midwest.

How is the process of starting a new business different for women?

To the extent women’s lives are different from men’s, their experiences starting a business are different. Women are usually the primary care givers for children, so often we have less time available. And, I believe that it is more difficult to locate expansion capital for women than men.

Specifically, how is it different in terms of venture capital?

Venture capital funding is often targeted to specific industries and markets that often have fewer women entrepreneurs in them. I think there is still an “ideal entrepreneur” picture in investors’ minds that is not a typical female entrepreneur.

What are some of the unique challenges women entrepreneurs face?

Lack of time and lack of access to capital are two challenges.

How do women-owned businesses apply for X Squared Angel funding?

Until July 2013, X Squared Angels will not be initiating or syndicating any deals; we will be learning our processes and completing others investors’ deals. These other deals will come from the Ohio angel network, the national women’s network of angels, Golden Seeds Angels and anyone else who sends us entrepreneurial companies that fit our investment criteria.

We will have a landing page online very soon and folks can contact me directly for an application. I will try to refer entrepreneurs to other appropriate angel groups until we are ready to initiate our own deals. My email is carolahclark@gmail.com

As a business owner, what inspires you most?

When I was a business owner, our product was education; education and making the world smarter was my inspiration. (www.mindleaders.com)

How is the climate for women-owned businesses here in Central Ohio?

Ohio has a very active and successful network of angels who invest primarily in the biological sciences, advanced materials, medical technology and IT. We Ohio angels don’t usually review companies that are outside these markets nor do we invest in companies outside of Ohio. And no one that I know of – and I would love to be proven wrong! – is focused on women-led companies. Women are half of our economy. Perhaps if we put more investment capital into women-led companies our economy would benefit.

Are you familiar with New Albany’s incubator, Innovate New Albany? In what ways do you feel women, in particular, can benefit from it?

This is a lovely facility encouraging a growth path for companies located there. Women (and men) entrepreneurs can benefit from being in an incubator in order to learn from others and to acquire new connections, both individuals and organizations, to help their companies flourish.

Innovate New Albany, the city’s incubator for technology startups, entrepreneurs and small businesses, features 16,000 square feet of space within the New Albany Business Park’s Signature Office Building, 8000 Walton Parkway.

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