she1K – The World’s First Global Corporate Women’s Private Network And Collective Angel Fund

  • Invitation-only network offers female C-suites barrier-free introduction into the world of angel investing

  •  Aims to rally 1,000 corporate women across the globe, empower and champion 100 startups by 2019

23 November 2018, Singapore – she1K – the world’s first corporate angel network for high- powered female executives has launched, heralding a new era of collaboration between women leaders and seed-stage startups looking for support and funding.

she1K is the world’s first network and collective fund comprising corporate women who are not in the business of serial entrepreneurship or private investing. The initiative seeks to empower entrepreneurship by harnessing the prowess of women executives – their experience, connections, industry knowledge, and functional excellence. One key reason many startups fail is that their teams lack the industry and business functional domain knowledge – a gap that she1K aims to fill.

The she1K network aims to:

  • Expose corporate women to startups and angel investing

  • Conduct due diligence on behalf of its members through an appointed council

  • Push for more gender diversity on company boards* – particularly the startups it invests in

  • Support causes its members care about, leveraging the entrepreneurial spirit of startups

  • Provide programs that empower corporate women to give back

*In Southeast Asia, less than 12% of board seats are held by women with the exception of Malaysia (19.1%) and Vietnam (25%). Singapore is at 10.7% and Indonesia is the lowest at 7.9%.

Inspiration Behind she1K

she1K is the brainchild of tech / telco industry veteran Christina Teo, founder of Startup Asia Women, a group that helps women venturing into the startup community. Christina worked overseas for over 20 years before returning to Singapore late 2016. She has held senior corporate roles at companies such as IBM, Acer, 3Com, O2, and Yahoo! SG, HK CSL. She was the first GM of Yahoo! In Singapore and launched the world’s first windows-based smartphone O2 (built by HTC). Her introduction to the world of startups came when she signed up for the first Slush event September 2016, and was intrigued at the spectacular scale of the event, as well as the Singapore government’s commitment to encouraging startup innovation.

Christina said, “Coming from a corporate environment, I learnt first-hand that the startup world can look like a fascinating but rather scary alien landscape to those who are new to it – and likewise, to startups, corporates can be intimidating. From seeing both sides came the idea to launch Startup Asia Women – a community for women in startups, followed by WomenChangemakers, which showcases corporate female role models. From these two, she1K naturally evolved  – as a collective where corporate women meet startups – providing a smooth, stress-free introduction into angel investing for female senior executives.

According to a report by Women Business Angels for Europe’s Entrepreneurs (WA4E) which represents a consortium of partner organisations from six European countries, many women investors are not investing in syndicates, potentially reflecting a lack of opportunity to join women-friendly groups, or a lack of understanding about the opportunities to invest in syndicates to mitigate risk and pool finance and skills. 

Many respondents said they lack understanding of the core process of angel investing, believing that it is for the super-rich, and assume that it would be risky. Most of the women non-investors do not know of any female peers or female role models who are angel investing and lack the confidence to make the decision to invest in a small company.

She1K aims to solve these problems, creating a safe space to build a community of support. This will help corporate women keep up-to-date with the latest business and technological innovations, and provide a platform for them to lend support whenever they are able to, closing the chasm between the two groups. 


Going Beyond Funding

The WA4E report also found that supporting entrepreneurs to grow their business, ‘putting something back’ and supporting their local economy was regarded as the primary motivation for women to become angel investors – and this was more significant than making a financial return.

she1K will be much more than just a financial backer – providing value that complements what typical VCs or angel investors offer. Members are encouraged to play an active role in championing the startups that have been selected. They could do this by taking a seat on the company board, sharing industry-specific insights and connections, and assisting with market fit validation. 

“Financing and mentoring is not enough – we must champion startups and their founders in order to give these companies traction to scale and achieve success – not just write them a cheque in the hope of turning a profit,” said Christina.

Global Access

she1K will evaluate startups and perform due diligence through a council comprising of vertical and ecosystem experts. The network will handle all liaison, and third party contact without members’ consent will not be allowed.  Although this is a women’s network, the startups selected will not be limited to those with female founders or members. Startups can be from anywhere in the world, but must be incorporated, have a team of more than one, and be able to demonstrate proof of concept. Startups will also be introduced to both male and female angel investors who double up as mentors to corporate women in their debut to angel investing.

Partnerships are key as we do not believe in reinventing the wheel. In most countries, there already exists a robust startup eco-system comprising of accelerators, VCs, other angel funds, global startup competitions. What we bring to the table in addition is the immersive industry experience and functional track record that our members have.” said Christina. 

she1K will work through angel syndicates such as AngelCentral in Singapore and other global accelerators such as Antler, leveraging their scouting and due diligence, thereby lowering the barrier to angel investment sums.

To amplify the impact, she1K will actively partner with global pitch challenges such as the long-running and highly regarded Cartier Women’s Initiative Award – an in
ternational business competition that aims to encourage women entrepreneurs to solve contemporary global issues.

What It Means To Be A she1k Member / How It Works 

she1K membership is by invitation-only and entails a minimum contribution of US$1,000 per annum (US$2000 in 2019). The money will go into a Collective Angel Fund that will selectively invest in startups in exchange for equity. Members can choose to contribute more – or if they identify a startup that they would like to work with or finance directly, they are welcome to do so. Members choose to be as actively or passively involved as they want, or as their schedules allow.

Besides having access to she1K flagship events and other C-suite workshops, members have opportunities to evaluate video pitches from startups and participate in ‘Shark Tank’-esque pitch panels in selected cities starting from Hong Kong in February 2019.

she1K also hopes to give members the opportunity to support startups that are in line with their personal passions and interests that may be separate from their main areas of work. Founding member, Genevieve Chua, Managing Director of Spicers Asia, for example, has an avid interest in dementia therapy, while Lina Ly, MD Asia Pacific Groupe L’Occitane, is a champion for Asian childhood education.

“I strongly believe there are other women like me, who are deeply rooted in corporate and curious about startups. They may not know how to get involved even if they wanted to, due to lack of exposure and time, or by finding its unfamiliarity intimidating,” Christina said. “she1K provides a structure, network and partnership reach to make the process easier.”  

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