baMa's Business Angels Spotlight series

“Be flexible, answer the questions and be comfortable standing up to the scrutiny” Stephanie Tsuru

Stephanie Tsuru is the founder of SheSpace, a work and meeting place where women can find community, support and grow their dreams. As baMa’s #changingthecolorsofinvestment event with SheSpace approaches, we have talked with her about women in the innovation ecosystem, their struggles and challenges and some advices to face them.

IN: Why did Shespace come to life?

For many reasons we wanted to create a space where women could improve their use of time and space, to work differently and more efficiently. This expands to how women live. It is possible to live in a more efficient way, merging work, and personal life by surrounding women’s workspace with the things they need to accomplish in their daily routine. This allows women to put time back into time impoverished life.  At SheSpace women from all backgrounds find a myriad of alternatives to working, having meetings or events.

We have offices, private desks or our vibrant community space with a coffee-shop-vibe. At our facility, women can find whatever they need in their lives to be more productive and successful. Another great attraction to a female focused space is women enjoy the freedom of working and interacting without being judged or in fear of pushback from male colleagues. Women flourish in spaces where they can say what they feel, wear what they wish and know that the woman down the hall will support her through challenges and obstacles.

Additionally, there are dozens of women organizations in Houston, but networking solely within their own network. We believe that having a space to cross-network is necessary, so we are addressing improving the way we network as well.

IN: What type of community can female founders find in SheSpace?

Female founders regardless of the industry they are in, have similar personal traits: they are passionate, ambitious, and tenacious. Part of what they need is support and they can achieve this by being be connected to like-minded women. At SheSpace they find this community, and support because there is an implicit understanding of what they have been through and continue to go through daily. The struggles and triumphs run parallel.

IN: At baMa we are holding a campaign #changingthecolrosofinvestment to raise awareness about the importance of female leaders and founders, why is it important to have female founders?

Being a founder is not for the faint of heart. It is tough and very hard work. Women are well-equipped to prosper and succeed in this environment, however, there is still a gender gap in the start-up community. Supporting Female Founders is our one of our priorities at SheSpace. We are chock full of Female Founders representing at last count 12 countries. All women find a community here. baMa and Shespace are clearly both working on building a diverse community, which is why our partnering is so powerful.

IN: Do women face extra challenges when they want to create a business?

Without a doubt, but I think that the scale is starting to tip in the other direction. We think women get more support in small businesses than in large corporate settings. And women supporting women allows women-owned small businesses to get further faster.

We have come a long way, but there is still much to do, but women supporting women will make the change happen. Contrary to the myth, women do support women, and work well together.

IN: How can we change the current trend?

Women supporting women is a huge step. Support comes from developing your relationships and from growing and cementing connections. It is all about connections and building relationships, and we must learn how to find them and nourish them. That is why at SheSpace we are so excited to partner with some of the most amazing women leaders and businesses in Houston. This is how the change will come and come with certainty and speed.

IN: What can SheSpace add to building up this more inclusive ecosystem?

The priority is support and assistance regardless of what women business owners need. Whether they need funding, marketing or leadership development, SheSpace is equipped to isolate the problem and find the solution. This usually begins with the finding the funding.

IN: What can you say to women that may be wanting to start a new business but are afraid?

The idea of women being risk-aversive is not true. What I share with younger women or women thinking of starting a business is don’t think for a second that female founders, the women that came before you were not afraid. We have simply learned to conquer the fear and how to be comfortable with the unknown. I will advise women entrepreneurs to figure out the steps and then conquer the fear of taking the next step. Who cares if women have more challenges? The success when it comes is going to be evermore so rewarding.

IN:Have you got any advice for female founders that need to attract venture capitalists or investors to start their businesses?

It comes down to preparing a good business plan, anticipating the questions that will be asked, analysing the data while doing a lot of research. If you do not think creating a solid business plan is your forte, get help. You can find great women that can mentor, and coach you because they want other women to succeed. Definitely, a good business plan is crucial, and to view it as an hypothesis because it doesn’t always work out as planned. Be flexible, answer the questions and be comfortable standing up to the scrutiny.

IN: How does pattern recognition in the entrepreneur world affect the lack of women-owned companies?

I do not think it is any different than other factors that affect women in companies and the entrepreneurship world. Everything affects us more; it cannot be singled out because of society. Pattern recognition is just another barrier that we must break while changing society. There is movement, so I am more encouraged than discouraged.

IN: What do you want to see happening at baMa this year?

baMa is headed uphill quickly, and I want baMa to find the gritty and hardworking women that really needs them to succeed. Women are sharp and have marvellous ideas, but the funding gap and lack of education in how to address funding opportunities, in the sense of where to go to get the funding, still needs to be addressed. I am excited for baMa, SheSpace and women in general.

Catherine Carey, Communications Manager at baMa

May 2021

baMa's Business Angels Spotlight series

“With DiA’s personalized course, the HCC wants people to be able to see the perspective of what investors look into” Brenda Rios

Brenda Rios is the Director of Entrepreneurial Initiatives & Community Relations at the Houston Community College, and with the Diversity Investor Academy powered by baMa are creating a personalized course. We talk with her about the 101 Business Angel course, what is the role of education and women and minority entrepreneurs.

IN: What role does education and diversity play in the innovation ecosystem?

It is a huge component; education goes hand by hand with diversity. Stakeholders, and Students can make an impact in the HCC. We involve the power of community with centres of excellence that focus on specific market needs such as technology, cosmetology, manufacturing, and construction. Innovation in all shape and forms. The HCC supports local shops and helps them to put all the efforts into strategy to evolve further.

For us, innovation is the power of generating those alliances with creating new businesses, products and services by developing partnerships and entrepreneurial resources in our workshops. In addition, it is pivotal to network, and build connections that support the innovation ecosystem and minority entrepreneurs.  

IN: How can we create a more educated community of early-stage investors?

Working on the course with the Diversity Investors Academy is one step. At the HCC we hear from minorities entrepreneurs over and over about the lack of investment. We believe in the importance of supporting education that shows the steps of becoming a certified business angel investor. With this education you can give financial information to individuals that want to grow their money, help them to better assess the relevance of sustainability and how to leverage the risk. Some individuals may have the funds, and want to grow them, but don’t know how or feel uncomfortable with early-stage investing.

IN: At baMa we have created a campaign called #changinthecolorsofinevstment. Why is it important to support such campaigns and diverse founders?

It is super important because diverse founders understand the struggles of their communities and the gaps in their markets. Thanks to these founders we can get different and new products, that have not been created because they have never been thought of.  With these campaigns the investment community can grow.

IN: Have you got any advice for minority entrepreneurs to attract venture capitalists or investors to start their businesses?

First, I will tell them to maintain their daily jobs until they have stability with their financials. Then, once they have a rhythm in creating their business, with some profits and a strong team, I would advise them to grow their network, and the brand. It is vital to practice and do your research to connect with people that will guide you such as mentors, coaches, institutions, and investors.

IN: Has being a woman affected your growth process?

Yes, and especially when I was a young professional. I have found that it is not so much as being at the table, but a matter of being taken seriously. I would say that you need to prepare yourself by knowing who is at the table and thinking about how you can position yourself while communicating properly.

IN: What is the one piece of advice you would give to young women who want to be part of the ecosystem?

I would say that if you have a business idea because you understand a particular niche and see the gaps and the opportunities in the market, you shouldn’t be afraid to create that business idea and go for it! If it is not you, who else would do it?

As a women we start doubting ourselves and like to have everything planned out, but don’t let that stop you. Entrepreneurs do their research and continue tweaking their business idea on the go. You must understand that being an entrepreneur is a journey, and you must feel comfortable with the daily changes.

IN: What is DiA adding to the HCC with the personalized course?

It is the opportunity of creating cohorts that understand the step by step of becoming an investor. At HCC we don’t only want to create workshops that teach individuals how to perform in pitch competitions; we want people to be able to see the perspective of what investors look into. With DiA, the attendees will learn this by understanding the process that takes place in early-stage investment.

With this personalized group we are creating with baMa, we will be able to teach a group of people who might be curious to invest in early-stage investment, get more clarity about the process to getting certified through several modules, and understand the steps to end up investing successfully and giving back to our community.

IN: What do you want to see happening at baMa and at DiA this year? Would you recommend baMa to other people?

I would love to see baMa grow world-wide! I absolutely recommend baMa! Minorities add value, and voice to specific struggles, but still are voiceless. The ecosystem needs much more initiatives and education that targets minority entrepreneurs and minority servicing markets such as baMa.

The power of focusing on minority entrepreneurs and having diverse investors looking at these types of ventures is a huge opportunity for economic growth. The National Association of Investment Companies recently released a report on the promising economic positioning of minority business enterprises (MBEs), which raised an interesting theory; the idea is that, if MBEs were to reach the average revenues generated by majority-white businesses, it would boost the U.S. GDP by a whopping $1.37 trillion. So we must be able to change the current statistics and prepare investors to seek out diversity in their sourcing of investment candidates. This will impact our community as a whole, and it’s the right recipe for a healthy innovative ecosystem.

Catherine Carey, Communications Manager at baMa

April 2021

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Rice Alliance is baMa’s Champion of diversity

Rice Alliance has become a baMa Champion of diversity to foster a diverse and supportive innovation ecosystem. “Rice Alliance aims to foster an innovative and entrepreneurial culture that not only values differences, but also elevates them as sources of strength and innovation”, said Managing Director of the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, Brad Burke.

Rice Alliance has decided to join forces with baMa and become a Champion of diversity because they believe in supporting a more inclusive startup ecosystem and in “listening to what the community needs and using our resources and network to support those efforts”, added Brad Burke. For Rice Alliance, “baMa provides a robust approach by providing training and expanding opportunities for under-represented founders to access capital, while expanding the pool of angel investment available for founders.”

“Rice Alliance becoming a Champion of diversity shows that joining forces to #changethecolorsofinvestment is not only necessary, but happening right now”, said baMa’s CEO, Maria Maso. “Diversity and education go hand by hand so counting with the support of Rice Alliance is a huge step in order to accomplish baMa’s goal: close the investment gap in minority-led startups.

Rice Alliance with their programming in Houston and long-established network, is an excellent way of supporting baMa’s mission. The organization can foster innovation and diversity through their programming, with which they want to ensure a platform for sharing ideas of diverse start-ups. One way Rice Alliance and baMa are continuing to work together is through the Rice Business Plan Competition. baMa participated in this event and gave a $50.000 investment prize to SwiftSku, Inc. 

The RBPC “gives collegiate entrepreneurs real-world experience to pitch their startups, enhance their business strategy and learn what it takes to launch a successful company,” Brad Burke explained. The group provides mentoring, guidance, and connections to the entrepreneurship ecosystem to their students. It also provides investors with early-stage deal-flow and student startups with capital to launch their businesses, through the $1M annual prize pool at the competition.

For this year, Rice Alliance expects that baMa is going to introduce them to “a more diverse set of new startups from across the country that we can support through our programming and provide a platform for sharing their ideas to our networks” stated Brad Burke. In addition, it wants to collectively increase the success of diverse statups by learning about and plugging into the education side of baMa, the Diversity Investor Academy.  

“baMa has become a leader in the region in supporting underrepresented founders and bringing more capital to these startups. We expect that support for baMa will continue to grow from other members of the innovation ecosystem to further this mission” concluded Brad Burke.

“Through education we can lead future excellent business angels to believe not only in investing in diversity because morally is the correct thing to do, but also to contribute to the innovation ecosystem and get better returns” concluded baMa’s CEO, Maria Maso.

Catherine Carey, Communications Manager at baMa

April 2021

baMa's Business Angels Spotlight series

‘Don’t get discouraged, dig deep, pivot and win’ Alejandro Mendez

Alejandro Mendez is the CEO of Royal Eagle Capital Partners, and a baMa member. We talk with him about cross-boarder investment, portfolio management, minority founders and what is like to be a baMa member.

IN: One of your focus areas is cross-border investing, what do you specifically?

My experience with cross-border investing started in 2005 owning a business in Mexico with clients in USA. Then in 2008, I joined JP Morgan Chase and then Citibank here in Houston to serve Latin American clients under their Wealth Management Division.

While working for these major banks, I saw the opportunity to create a solution to link Latin America opportunities with international investors and capital markets. Regarding cross-boarding investments, I found out that middle market companies in Latin America need to access to capital since their local capital markets and banks are not as liquid and dynamic as what we have here in USA.

I believe there are great opportunities to find good operators, sponsors and companies that are looking partners and capital to expand their companies and markets. We are always open for good returns and opportunities to create partnerships with good operators internationally.

IN: What are the trends for 2021 in cross-border investing?

It is a remarkably interesting year. Because the pandemic, in my point of view, there are going to be industries that will be struggling. They will need to adapt to survive. As dramatic as it sounds, some of companies and industries will need to change their entire business model to serve their clients through the use of virtual tools, digital solutions and technology.

We see opportunities in renewal energy, digital banking and cryptocurrencies, logistics and distribution centers, infrastructure and interconnection services, data centers, with a sustainability and ESG (Environmental/Social & Governance) approach. M&A activities will increase for second semester of 2021.

IN: baMa still is not doing cross boarding investing, what advices could you give us, when it comes to first start cross boarding investment?

It depends on what type of investor you are. baMa is a seed/venture capital investment approach, which look for early-stage companies, where risk is acceptable if you have a high-reward yield.

In this particular case, if you are a venture capital or early-stage investor you must have a very strong due diligence team and dedicated process; you need to do your homework analysing the market in terms of size and potential upside; you need evaluate how to add value not only with your investment but with your experience in operations, process, corporate governance, and technology.

Also, is particularly important to perform a pre-money and post-money valuation, to understand the cash flow of the company and the IRR (internal rate of return) of your investment.

IN: Can you give us some tips on how to do a right portfolio diversification?

A right portfolio diversification would comprise anything digital and technology oriented that make things easier for the user. We believe investments should be linked to data mining and managing, clean green and renewable energy, fintech and logistics.

Today, we have three vertical companies related to green energy, fintech and wealth management. In addition, we are launching a crypto and data mining company here in Texas. In Royal Eagle these are the sectors where we are focusing since we believe they have positive trends for growth in the next 5 to 7 years.

IN: How can you make social impact with your portfolio management?

Nowadays, investors and companies are looking for deals that are good business but also are good for the people. Sustainability, green economy and ESG are the name of the game. Investors and smart money are looking for companies that knows what to do, with a strong operation team and solid corporate governance policies. It is very important to create policies to serve your employees internally and also, at the same time, create programs to serve the communities you are in.

In general, here in USA and Latin America there is huge room of improvement to include more Women in key positions, have more Women performing Board positions, and create an inclusive environment with equal salaries and opportunities for all.

To make a real social impact, we believe that you need to go with an open mentality to serve the communities and add value. Is more about them and less about you.

In Royal Eagle, we have a professional team in charge of our social impact efforts to design programs and strategies based on what the community needs and not what we think they might need. You need to analyse what it is necessary for that community specifically. The needs from one community might be completely different to another community. In order to create a real impact, you need to address what are top need of each community and execute accordingly.

IN: What would you say to anybody that wants to start a company? And, specifically, what would you say to any minority that may doubt on whether to create a start-up or not.

No is a powerful word. If you have the dream, the desire and drive, do not get discourage when you get a NO from an Investor, a potential customer, or an important Stakeholder. Use the NO in your favour. When somebody says No to me, it happens two things: it makes me eager to show them wrong and/or I learn from the no, then pivot, and become better. In fact, you are going to get more no’s that yes’s especially when you are trying to raise capital, so don’t get discouraged, dig deep, pivot and win.

Secondly, you need investors that understands your business, the industry, and their cycles you are in and support you in the long run. The first two years are the toughest. Thirdly, you need to have a team that believes in your vision and share your values. Your Team is key, look for people that are smarter than you, get talented people in key positions. Share the vision and the wealth with them. Build a team to complement you and your weaknesses.

IN: What do you expect from baMa this year?

BaMa is facing a consolidating year. baMa had a challenging start in 2020 since it was launched before the pandemic. I am expecting baMa to grow with more members and investors from our community. I always think the due diligence process and the quality of the deals can be improved but baMa is getting the job done.

Maria with baMa is creating an amazing outlet for the minority communities, especially for us the Hispanics which we are behind compared to others as Investors and to get funding for our companies. I anticipate baMa to grow and become a real force in our community.

IN: Would you recommend other people to join baMa as members? Why?

I think that if you are a start-up or a venture capital investor, baMa represents an easy way of getting deals. baMa has a team in place to get access to quality companies and deals for you. Is always good not to waste valuable resources doing due diligence and finding deals. With baMA you will get pre-vetted deals and at the same time you will interact with Investors like you to learn, co-invest and exchange ideas.

You get a lot of value from your baMa membership. The membership cost is very affordable compared to the amount opportunities and knowledge you can get access for being a member.

Catherine Carey, Communications Manager at baMa

April 2021

SwiftSku is the winner of baMa’s Prize

SwiftSku from Auburn University, point of sales technology for convenience stores that allows for real time analytics, has won first place and claimed the $350,000 grand prize from Goose Capital. It has also won the $50,000 Business Angel Minority Association Prize at the Rice Rice Business Plan Competition that took place on Friday the 9th. You can read the full issue by clicking on the image.

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

SM Promo baMa Launch 16

baMa’s plans for 2021

#changingthecolorsofinvestment is baMa’s newest campaign. baMa is a growing business angel network association that aims to bridge the investment gap in minority-led startups or startups targeting minority driven markets.

Who is baMa? The Business Angel Minority Association is a national initiative to create a more inclusive startup ecosystem through early-stage investment in minority-led and minority-focused startups. To achieve this, baMa’s vision is to activate more investors in diverse startups, get above-average returns on investments, and support innovation from minority founders.

Why baMa? We believe that if we support the innovation ecosystem through our investments, we will influence the companies that will lead our future.

The statistics show the problem baMa wants to help solve. A report from Ratemyinvestor & Diversity VC shows that less than 25% of venture-backed founders are from a racial minority group and a majority of founding the teams comprise of all males. Portfolios, in general, lack diversity. Deloitte also shows that only 14% are women investors and only 20% are from a racial minority. Another report form Mckinsey & Company tell us that when we invest in gender diverse startups, the investors get 25% more returns. Likewise, when there are ethnically diverse startups, investors get 36% more wins.

“Believing in diversity it is not only the right thing to do, but as investors there are better returns”, says CEO of baMa, Maria Maso.

This lack of diversity in investors leads to a lack of investing in minority founded startups. Investors then lose the above average returns that diversity shows to generate.

How are we going to change this? With baMa 2021 strategy  #changingthecolorsofinvestment through a collaborative approach. baMa counts on partners, sponsors, syndication groups, members, and the Diversity investor Academy.

As partners, we have nonprofits like Sogal, Generator, Women in artificial intelligence that are crucial because they deploy money to support quality startups. baMa and them share the similar vision and establish mutual partnerships. On the other hand, our sponsors, which are corporates like V&E, The Cannon and Boral Agency, make it possible for baMa to implement different educational programs in order to activate capital in diverse startups and business angels.

If you become a baMa sponsor, you will get an incredible opportunity to showcase your company to minority communities across the U.S., make an impact supporting diversity, inclusion and equality, receive recognition and logo placement on baMa’s website, access to VIP events, and branding through marketing emails send to the media and baMa’s communities such as investors, business angels, VCs, minority-led startups, etc.

Education is another pillar. baMa believes in making education approachable to anybody that wants to be involved in early-stage investment. We believe in the power of knowledge, that is why we have the Diversity Investor Academy. At DiA we present new content in a user-friendly approach, no application required and no need to be an accredited investor.

The content is divided into specific knowledge blocs with topics such as Market trends, legal considerations, women in early-stage investment. This 25th of March, we will hold one of our fist panels for 2021: “Women in the innovation ecosystem.”

Moreover, we will be launching a monthly subscription 101 business angel education prerecorded lessons on the 29th. In the next semester we will launch our 101+advanced business angel education where we are going to share real cases of business successes, and failures.

The third pillar is our syndication groups. They comprise groups of investors, VCs, and other business angels networks that believe in diversity in order to create more talent and expand innovation.

Lastly, but not least, our members. They can be investors that are supporting businesses with their own capital, VCs that are looking for diverse startups, and institutional members that don’t invest, but support us to activate more investors. Regarding membership, we have two different initiatives in mind in our members’ portal. They are: creating a members’ forum to discuss different investment opportunities and, as soon as COVID-19 allows us, we will host our pitches in person and online.

In 2021, we will continue hosting pitches that will connect contact founders and high-quality startups and our angel network. Nevertheless, one of the companies in our pitch event is going to be founded via an SPV available to our activating capital members.

One of the biggest goals for this year is to launch a business angel fund by the end of 2021. baMa’s management team in order to do so has set two milestones. The first one, is to reach 100 investors members at baMa, and to create 4 SPVs  to deploy capital as a group. Opening a fund will allow baMa access to more investors by offering a lower investment minimum for a diversify portfolio, resulting in a better risk-adjusted path for new angel investors to have a direct positive impact.

During baMa 2021 Launch event, we gave away three different awards for baMa’s Diversity Champions. Diane Yoo won member of the year, Vinson & Elkins won sponsor of the year, and Portfolia won investment partner.

At baMa, we welcome everyone that wants to #changethecolorsofinvestment, and any kind of support is appreciated. You can support baMa by being a partner, sponsor, member, etc. let us know which are your skills and let’s work together.

Catherine Carey, Communications Manager at baMa

March 2021

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Portfolia wins the investment partner award

Chantell Preston from Portfolia accepted business angel Minority association – baMa’s Diversity Champion: Investment Partner award.

Portfolia has a global network of top VCs source best in class companies and high value deals and bring deep experience to each fund. They have 10 funds in market and invest in 8-12 companies per fund.

With Portfolia, women can learn about venture investing by watching pitch calls, doing diligence and providing expertise from their own industries and consumer preferences.

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Vinson & Elkins wins sponsor of the year

Vinson & Elkins has been awarded with the business angel Minority association – baMa Diversity Champion: sponsor of the year award. James Garrett has picked the award.

Vinson & Elkins LLP is an international law firm with approximately 700 lawyers worldwide headquartered in the First City Tower in Downtown Houston, Texas. They believe in achieving equality — inclusive of diverse interests, backgrounds, perspectives, race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, age, religion, and physical ability.