Changing the colors of investment event

baMa has the objective of changing the colors of investment by activating diverse capital in order to achieve a more inclusive innovation ecosystem.  To spread baMa’s mission we have  hosted a hybrid event to present the summer pitch and different panels with multitude of speakers.

The event started if off with the summer pitch for members-only. During the pitch event: Freeman Capital; Hera Biotech;  Change: water labs & Interstellar Labs  have presented their future-driven companies. Our members have decided to do group diligence with Hera Biotech, a medical technology company coming out of San Antonio. Interstellar Labs also garnered a lot of interest from our members, and our senior investor members have decided to pursue individual due diligence with it.

After the pitch event the panels, powered by DiA, began with Driving forces for a diverse and inclusive ecosystem. President & CEO of Nation Waste, Inc, Maria Rios and CEO at baMa Maria Maso have discussed the current state of events embracing diversity and inclusivity in the ecosystem. Maso stressed how important is innovation for her and her family, as for health reasons they moved to Houston. Therefore, activating more capital to support innovation is her main passion. Additionally, she explained that “diversity is not only bringing different colours to the table is to achieve better decisions by taking into account different backgrounds and ideas.”

Maria Rios has been optimistic about women in the innovation ecosystem and has encouraged anyone to take on the opportunities and to help each other. “Women investors can grow when they get the tools and skills so educating and mentoring is crucial to encourage them” stressed Rios. She ended the talk by giving some advice for the entrepreneurs to get into the innovation ecosystem. “You have to find yourself and love your business while learning from others and to how to do financials and surround yourself with people passionate like you” she passionately told the audience.

Maria Rios & Maria Maso at the event (from left to right)

After this talk, founder of Watchherwork, Denise Hamilton; founder of Ossy International, Shecky Ray; CEO of Salman Solutions, Samira Salman &  CEO of SheSpace, Stephanie Tsuru began with the panel: She believed she could so she did. This panel named by our sponsor, SheSpace, has focused on the challenges of women entrepreneurs and investors but also how to overcome them while encourage any female that want to take part in the innovation ecosystem.

The speakers stressed how important is to build strong relationships and a network full of die-harts. “You should purge the idea of having millions of associates, you need friendships and those who will advocate for you” described Hamilton.  Women need to be in the room where things happen while building relationships. At the end of the day, as Salman expressed, “you do business with people that you trust so you need to connect to the people.” Connecting with the people is made by being authentic and talking to them from your heart.

Denise Hamilton; Samira Salman, Shecky Ray & Stephanie Tsuru (from left to right)

The next panel was Portfolio diversification done right, risk, reward & social impact. Phillip Yates, General Counsel at baMa and managing Partner at Diversity Fund was the moderator of the panel and the speakers has been managing Director at GOOSE Capital, Chris E. Staffel;  Founder and CEO at Fluent, Beth McKeon and Managing Partner at Continental Venture, Ahmed AlTammar.

The speakers have given a series of recommendations when it comes to diversifying any company portfolio. For McKeon it is vital to check the riskiness of the business model before diversifying. You should not diversify “when a business model is dreamier than reality because you want to invest and have success in the long term” McKeon has further explained. AlTammar has encouraged “to join other pears if you don’t know how to begin diversifying and investing while learning as you go.” Staffel has highlighted how Goose Capital has a diverse portfolio and strongly support joining forces with baMa in order to increase its diversity.

Ahmed Altammar, Chris E. Staffel, Beth McKeon and Philip Yates (from left to right)

The next panel was Activating investors of colors with principal at Shell Ventures and Advisory Board member at baMa, Andrea Course as the moderator and Director at McNair Center of Entrepreneur, Patrick Woock; Nonprofit Leader & Fundraiser, Jessica Graham  and co-founder and managing director at Urban Capital network, Lenny Saizan as the speakers. The panel has stated that there is not enough diversity and that investors tend to invest in other people like them. Additionally, Course stated that “2% of VC founding went to women and .02% to women of colour so there is a clear problem.”

All the panelists have expressed that diversity is fundamental to get better returns. Specifically, Woock advised to the audience that they should know the people in the industry while also understand the industries that you get into. “Timing is also crucial; you need to see where the trend is going and the demographics” he further explained. Saizan added that there are huge opportunities in tech, and that “joining an investment group or going to baMa or Urban Capital network to get around more people to help you with the decision to invest.” Graham closed the panel by also encouraging the attendees and anyone to surround themselves like  baMa and to “not underestimate the value that you bring to the ecosystem.”

The last panel was Leading innovation industries. Product Designer at Schlumberger and DiA Manager at baMa, Mafe Tafur was the moderator, and the speakers were Chief Strategist at Women and Drones, Kimberly Penn; Vice President at Hamilton Health Box, Adrian Trömel and CEO at SOTAOG Sarah Tamilarasan.

The speakers all described what traits innovators they admire have. For Trömel there are two types of innovators: ones give the space to the team to develop, and lead the team, others intervene in the solution side with the approaches to the problem. Tamilarasan added that is fundamental “the ability to not give up because solutions are hard to find so persistence and endurance are necessary.” Penn expressed that “innovators have to create a company culture that fosters the grow and to take risks.”

The event was closed by Arnobio Morelix and Gary Bolles talk on How to navigate economic changes. Bolles has expressed that entrepreneur to navigate the systemic change that we are currently seeing it is crucial to have the right mindset, skillset, and toolset.  “Mindset is how to approach problem; skillset is the way we try to solve problems and toolset enable us to be effective to solve problems” he further explained. Digital proficiency and being a problem solver are crucial.

Morelix closed the event by thanking the sponsors: V&E; Boral Agency; SheSpace and The Cannon. We would like to thank once more to our incredible sponsors and supporters. Without them changing the colors of investment would not be possible. We will keep all of you informed of the upcoming updates regarding Due Diligence with some of the pitch companies. LET’S KEEP CHANGING THE COLORS OF INVESTMENT TOGETHER!

Catherine Carey, Communications Manager at baMa

June 2021


#changingthecolorsofinvestment at SheSpace

Maria Maso, founder and CEO of baMa and Stephanie Tsuru, cofounder of SheSpace have talked about the challenges that women face in the business and innovation ecosystem, while giving some personal advice on how to overcome them.

The event was a total success with more than 40 people gathered in the in-person and Facebook live event hosted at SheSpace.  The audience, mostly females and from diverse backgrounds, had the chance to network and speak to incredible founders, entrepreneurs and investors that attended the event. Additionally the event was sponsored by Brendal Boral Angency. To Brenda Boral and the whole team we are forever grateful for making possible such event.

baMa was born due to the impact that innovation was having in Maria’s personal life. She saw that it was changing the lives of her kids and that she should invest in innovative ideas. While she tried to this, she saw that she did not find diverse start-ups where she “could put in the capital and influence the future of my kids.” The Association has currently got 40 members that may be pro-investors  and VCs or have little experience with early-stage investment, but they “all find a community”, added Maria Maso.

SheSpace’s founder, Stephanie Tsuru, was interested in mentoring and coaching while networking. She saw that there was a real need of creating a place to gather and grow into a cross-networking arena. Her co-founder Katie Tsuru was discouraged by the “inequities with women in corporate settings.” Therefore, together they wanted to “break the myth of women not supporting women, and in fact they do work well together” as Stephanie explained. The company has about 80+ members and “anyone is eligible for the education given at SheSpace talks and people can be connected to the subject matter experts” Stephanie further explained.

Speaking about the challenges that SheSpace encountered, Tsuru explained that “it came together quite smoothly because the time was right and there had never been more women entrepreneurs.” The main obstacle was finding the funding for other women. Personally, Stephanie Tsuru had trouble “finding women to look up to and to have as role models because there weren’t many.” Fortunately, nowadays there are experienced businesswomen who can share their experiences and help out younger and newer women to the ecosystem.

Maria Maso found it challenging when she stopped working to focus fully on her family. Nevertheless, stop working in a corporate setting, showed that that job wasn’t meant for her, “I realised I wanted to be an entrepreneur.” The whole pandemic was a challenge for baMa which was born just 4 days before. However, the pandemic, showed the importance of educating. Therefore, the Diversity Investor Academy was also born: “to educate whoever wanted to learn about early-stage investment”, stated Maso. With approachable online courses and personalised courses with institutions such as the Houston Community College and La Cámara de Empresarios Latinos, DiA wants to make education valuable and easy to consume. 

Brenda Boral, the moderator intervened when talking about building a support system. Women supporting women does not always happened and to encourage women a good network and education are needed. “Women are beginning to be interested in investing and growing businesses” highlighted Maria. Additionally, having the right community is vital as Maria Maso told the audience, “ambitious people that pushed me to go forward, so I will advise everybody to surround themselves with people with different capabilities that will help you.”

If, as a women, you are struggling to begin a business or to learn how to invest in companies, baMa’s CEO gave three advices: “Know who you are and where you want to go while being yourself, start networking by looking into the community and be ready for the No and the flaws because not always is going to go everything smoothly and perfect.” SheSpace founder, Stephanie Tsuru added that women must “get used to making mistakes and open up to failure, conquer the fear and step out.” Moreover, she that to make a real change, women need to “stop using excuses due to the fear, and lack of confidence.”  The fear and lack of confidence can lead to an imposter syndrome, so Stephanie recommended to the audience that “it is about changing the mindset: you are going to make it.

Maria Maso, Brenda Boral, and Stephanie Tsuru talking to the public and giving some advice on how to fit in the innovation ecosystem.

How does an entrepreneur now what is a good business idea? For Stephanie “the right idea comes at the right time, we did research and settled our mind into SheSpace.” Maria, contrary to Stephanie, has a laptop with a list of ideas and then she tends to share the thoughts, talk about it to a lot of different people, and “ go through maturation process.”

One of the attendees had a question regarding the red flags of investing in a company. For Maria one of the main things that baMa looks up is the team because “in early-stage the ideas can change but the entrepreneur and the team have to be strong to survive the changing of plans.” Additionally, when “somebody comes in telling me that they have no competitors and that they are the best in the market, we don’t believe it and they demonstrate poor making skills” added Maria.  Andre Course, one of the attendees, investor and advisory board member at baMa, added that the two red flag are when the candidates that are pitching get very defensive or aren’t honest, exaggerating or blatantly lie about other investors interest in their companies.

Another question asked by the public, was how to start connecting with people when you are new in a city. Maria responded that you need to find out the right community, while “looking for organisations of support and attending different events such as the Houston Rodeo Week.”  Stephanie added that spaces such as SheSpace try to make the integration better and quicker because there are women from all backgrounds and ones that are new to Houston. She also suggested that it is key to “go to a lot of different places, making yourself known to other people.”

At the end of the talk, all the attendees were invited to know SheSpace, had a wonderful lunch and the ability to network and connect with amazing founders, investors and interesting women in the ecosystem.

Catherine Carey, Communications Manager at baMa

May 2021

Women in Innovation - Cover

The reality of women in the innovation ecosystem

Believe in yourself, find people who support you, educate yourself and make sure you have the drive to keep going”, “Knowing what you know and what you don’t know, and just keep going”, “women have to be more shameless in asking for opportunities” have been the advices that the guests have given during DiA’s Women in the Innovation Ecosystem panel.

Venture Capital funded teams are 82% all male, 6% all females and 12% mixed, according to RatemyInvestor & Diversity VC. In addition to his, only 14% are women investors, according to Deloitte. Due to this gap, the Diversity Investor Academy has seen the importance of holding the first 2021 panel discussion revolving women in Venture Capital, investment, and entrepreneurship.

CEO and founder of baMa, Maria Maso, has led this event that has counted on the participation of the energy industry lead, Nancy Zakhour, venture builder at Z LAB Startup Studio, Sunny  Shuoyang Zhang,  and venture principal at Shell, Andrea Course, have discussed the extra challenges any women suffers when trying to get funding, and when getting the same job opportunities than their male counterparts. 

Andrea Course has highlighted the difficulties women in the VC find when seeking funding because of an unconscious bias. “You tend to invest in people that look like you, and because there aren’t that many people with capabilities of writing checks that are females then there is a tend to invest in the same companies over and over again”, explained Course.

The discrimination against women it is not so much due to a lack of a strong network or pipeline; it is due to this unconscious bias present in pitching events or job offers. As Andrea Course puts it, women when they pitch the questions tend to be: how are you not going to fail? Whereas when a man is presenting it is: how are you going to grow the company? “We need to know these biases, and treat men and women with the same type of standards”, resumed Course.

Nancy Zakhour has added that it is vital to increase awareness of the different treatment that women face when compared to men. “We need to be proactive and help ourselves to become more independent” Zakhour stated. Awareness is key and then you must follow up with confidence. Zakhour finds that women must speak up and express what they don’t like and embrace the challenge. “If you are not getting the traction you want, start by awareness, educate yourself plugging in with groups like baMa or educational groups like DiA to understand the opportunities available to you and make the changes accordingly” Zakhour added.

Along the same lines, Andrea Course finds that most women need to find the confidence to speak up and not to be afraid of being told that they are wrong. This is extremely important because diverse minds bring innovation, i. e., something new that brings value as Sunny Shuoyang Zhang conceptualized it. “Women can add a lot to the current male dominated environment because there are issues that women care more about such as social goods, and social responsibility” Shuoyang Zhang explained. Women can, therefore, add an unique perspective on matters that are typically ignored. 

What can women do to be successful? For Nancy Zakhour it is persistence what has made her get where she is. “You need to keep on working, believing in your hard work and what you are delivering” said Zakhour.  In addition, Shuoyang Zhang explained that women have to embrace the unknown because it will make them grow. It is important to face setbacks and to accept failure because they will teach valuable lessons. Furthermore, curiosity is vital. “You need to be constantly learning new skills, knowing people and caring about people” explained Course. It is about building relationships, giving and receiving.  

Women continue to face distinct challenges, one of the most common is not being taken seriously. “We have all the certifications, and we can prove ourselves and everything we have achieved, but we are still not taken seriously” expressed Zakhour. This depends significantly on external factors such as the environment and culture and it can affect the self-confidence and give in the imposter syndrome.

Zakhour added that women must work harder for the same role than their male competitors. As these challenges are imposed on females, it is crucial that they are fought collectively. “Of course, you have to speak up your worries and do your best as an individual, but this will not always work, it depends on external factors, out of your capacity” concluded Zakhour.

What solutions can women find? Women should help each other, surround themselves with individuals who will treat them equally, and find security and comfort in groups such as baMa that will provide the confidence, the skills and the expertise to challenge these current issues. In addition to this, women need to be “persistent and authentic to succeed and build pure relationships” advised Zakhour.

For Andrea Course, women should not take personally those challenges, because they are a product of unconscious bias created because people are not used to see women in VC or other male dominated sectors.  Instead, she encouraged every woman to go ahead and try new things because in order “to get something they never had, they have to do something they never did.”

About 40 people, majority of them women, attended the event. There were lawyers, marketing professionals, investors, entrepreneurs, and form diverse backgrounds, some were Latinas, Arabic, Indians, Americans, etc but they all had experienced the same hardships for being a woman.

After the panel discussion, the attendees were separated in breakout rooms where they could discuss more intimately some topics regarding women in the investment and innovation ecosystem. Women need to understand that they don’t have to be wealthy in order to invest and become angel investors. They can get the training and stat supporting startups and companies that will produce women-focused products that are currently lacking.  

“The world is going through a fundamental change right now from a hierarchal structure to a decentralized network” concluded Shuoyang Zhang. Women must understand the value that their contributions have to this network. As  Shuoyang Zhang put it, women have to start “turning what they learn into action and this into giving and they will receive.”

baMa’s CEO, Maria Maso finished the event by highlighting that women have to “know their strengths, and be themselves. Stop looking for perfection and be brave enough to be different.”

About baMa: Passionate about innovation, diversity, and inclusion business angel Minority association (baMa) bridges the investment gap in minority-led startups or startups by targeting minority-driven markets through diverse investments and education.

About DiA: We are passionate about innovation, and we believe that diversity brings value to the investment ecosystem. Our mission: Provide education while supporting inclusion. At The Diversity Investors Academy you will learn how to do early-stage investment and the skills to become a future business angel. If you wan to learn more about DiA or have any doubts you can contact, DiA’s manager, Mar Flotats at: mar.flotats@businessangelminorityassociation.com

Catherine Carey, Communications Manager at baMa.

April 2021.

Spring 2021 Pitch Event (2)

baMa’s first 2021 pitch event

Unbox The Dress, Boddle Learning, Health Hero and Ecolution have been the four companies pitching to the business angel Minority association’s angel investors network in baMa’s first pich event for this year.

These four startups were selected following baMa’s dealflow pre-selection process. From a 1,000+ companies source (compilated from Pitch App, Pitch Comp, Partnerships, Social Media, & Members) we targeted 50 companies following baMa’s investment Theory, i.e, we looked for their impact (Minority founded or minority servicing), their industry (Edtech, EnergyTech, FinTech, MedTech, or Consumer Goods), their Stage (Pre-Seed, Seed, or Series A) and interest (Lead investor or lead investor interest)

Then baMa sourcing team met 25 companies to learn about the team and leadership of these companies, the opportunity that they represent, their fit to market and some round details. 6 companies made it to the next round, and were reviewed by our Advisory Board team. Lastly, 4 companies were presented to our network on pitch Day.

Unbox The Dress is in Post- Revenue stage, with first launch capital and in a Pre-Seed investment round. It is a startup that enables women to repurpose the fabric and embellishments of their wedding dress into a collection of one-of-a-kind, modern gifts. Subscription-based dress preservation and off-site storage services help women maximize the design potential of their dress fabric.

Boddle Learning helps teachers and education publishers transform learning content into interactive experiences through a gamified education platform. Boddle improves test scores by boosting student engagement through gameplay and rewards and tailors learning using artificial intelligence. The company is in in Pre-revenue stage, with Atento Lead investor and in a pre-seed investment round.

Health Hero has built an AI-powered telehealth service that solves people’s needs (Social Determinants of Health). Employers & providers want to identify & solve for people’s needs. It is currently in post-revenue stage, with Keiretsu Forum as lead investor and in seed investment round.

Ecolution supports the demand to move towards a net zero carbon footprint. They do this by capturing the kinetic energy of moving transportation. It is in pre-revenue stage, with Brown Venture as lead investor.

baMa’s next pitch event is on June the 16th and it is a members only event. Whether your company is seed, pre-seed, or Series A, our aim is to connect your minority-led or minority serving startup to our network of angel members. baMa is preselecting startups for the next Quarterly Pitch Event. We have a good set of companies to invest, but we would like to hear from more. Please, send your application here.

About baMa: Passionate about innovation, diversity, and inclusion business angel Minority association (baMa) bridges the investment gap in minority-led startups or startups by targeting minority-driven markets through diverse investments and education.

Catherine Carey, Communications Manager at baMa