© Gateway Ventures

Influencing innovation and the future as business angels

Our startup ecosystem is unbalanced. At least in terms of the proportion of female founders, but also in terms of female angels and investors. We need more female business angels. But what do the potential female investors need in turn? A study will help with that, says Svenja Lassen, Managing Director Germany at Gateway Ventures and founder of the Female Investors Network (FIN) . Interested parties can still participate for a few days.

Munich Startup: In 2020, you conducted a research project together with the IUBH on the topic of female business angels in Germany. How many female business angels were there at that time?

Svenja Lassen: At that time, the figures for Germany were not yet collected and clear. Based on various studies, we assumed eight percent – far too few. This impression was also confirmed at all the events and in the reporting: you hardly encountered any female business angels. At Gateway Ventures, the proportion of female investors was as low as four percent. So I saw an urgent need to increase this figure.

Lowering inhibition threshold for potential business angels

Munich Startup: The study gave rise to the mission #25to25. What is your goal?

Svenja Lassen: The study initially gave rise to the Female Investors Network (FIN) in 2020 as an open contact point for active angels and women who want to become one. Our goal was to lower the barrier to entering the startup investment scene and to provide transparent information about the topic, thus motivating more women. We then issued the mission #25to25 in 2021. The goal: 25 percent women in the startup scene by 2025, i.e. on the side of both female founders and female investors. But we can only achieve this if we all work together. That’s why every player in the ecosystem is called upon to support this mission and do their part for this.

Munich Startup: Where are you today, what have you already achieved?

Svenja Lassen: In the meantime, the proportion of female investors in Germany is 13.6 percent, which is a significant increase, but of course still not enough. That’s why we launched the FIN Academy in 2022, a training program for women who want to become business angels. For this we won the ‘Female Finance Award’ from FOCUS Money this year. The fifth academy is currently underway. We have already trained 136 female graduates, some of whom are already investing – which of course makes us very proud.

Munich Startup: You are currently working on another study. Who should participate and what do you want to find out?

Svenja Lassen: It is not a new one, but an update of our study from 2020. We want to find out what has already been done and improved in the past three years. Which measures, initiatives and networks offered have triggered positive change? But we also want to know where there is still need for action and what women who invest or want to do so specifically need.

Where is a need for action?

Munich Startup: What do you think is still missing to improve the situation?

Svenja Lassen: Of course, many more women who want to start as business angels and thus have a direct influence on innovations and the future. But of course there is also a lack of partners, supporters who realize projects like the FIN Academy, so that many more interested women can be trained.

And we need more men who also don’t accept the imbalance and are committed to change because we all benefit from more diversity in the ecosystem. It simply takes diverse perspectives to make good decisions together.

To improve the situation, we now need women interested in finance to take a few minutes to participate in our update study and give their opinion. This will help us to know what we can and must implement in the future to make the investment scene more female in the long term.