More Women, Minorities Join Angel Investor Group, Austin’s CTAN Says

Austin—The Central Texas Angel Network says it’s growing, and that the diversity of its membership is, too.

The organization known as CTAN says its member base has increased to more than 160 individuals from about 120 two years ago, and that the group includes more women and minorities. Women now make up 25 percent of the accredited membership, up from 5 percent two years ago, while minority members account for 15 percent, up 5 percentage points, CTAN says.

Interest in personalized investing, from angels to crowd funding, has been on the rise in recent years as individuals gain greater access to entrepreneurial companies they once didn’t have access to, according to one report from Harvard Business School. More money is being invested, too, according to the Angel Resource Network: $850,000 was the median size of an angel round in 2015, compared to about $500,000 for the three previous years.

In Texas, more angel networks have been forming to meet that interest. The San Antonio Angel Network got its start last year. Jamie Rhodes, who founded CTAN in 2006, also created the Alliance of Texas Angel Networks in 2012 to organize the state’s various angel groups.

At CTAN, the increase in women in minorities wasn’t necessarily a goal, but rather a consequence of more people learning about the network, according to executive director Claire England. It is an important change to note, England says, because a diverse set of people bring broad perspectives, feedback, and connections to CTAN and its portfolio companies.

“I love when I go to meetings and see such a wide swath of people because the entrepreneurs see themselves in the investors,” England says. “If we have a diversity of entrepreneurs, we should have diversity of investors. All of the different perspectives lend to helping the startups and helping the investors make good decisions.”

Diversity (or lack thereof) in the tech realm has been the subject of news headlines in recent months. There have long been allegations of sexism in tech work places (not to mention all work places), which was highlighted late last month after a former Uber engineer published allegations that her manager sexually harassed her and other female employees.

Meanwhile, other organizations have been trying to promote diversity in tech, from Techstars to an apprenticeship program in the state of Washington.

Other than having a more diverse set of investors, CTAN says its investments are broadening, too. In addition to more traditional fields for angel investing, such as banking, software, and life sciences, CTAN put money into young companies in aerospace and robots for the food industry. The majority (55 percent) of CTAN’s investors are also in their 20s, 30s, or 40s, contrary to the notion that angel investors are mostly retired, England says.

David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at dholley@xconomy.com Follow @xconholley

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