What's right about AWE Ventures and wrong about that guest op-ed - Technical.ly Philly

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Jul. 15, 2015 8:33 am

What’s right about AWE Ventures and wrong about that guest op-ed

Ben Franklin Technology Partners CEO RoseAnn Rosenthal responds to criticism of a new fund for women-led startups.
At an Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs event.

At an Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs event.

(Courtesy photo)

This is a guest post by RoseAnn B. Rosenthal, president and CEO of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

On June 15, the author of a July 10 Technical.ly Philly guest post contacted the Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) and Ben Franklin Technology Partners via email to convey her concerns about our recently launched partnership in support of women investors and entrepreneurs.

By June 19, we had a meeting scheduled for July 24. It would have been a great opportunity to share perspectives on topics we clearly both feel passionate about. Instead, we’ll have the conversation here.

AWE Ventures—Powered by Ben Franklin was initiated for two clear purposes:

  1. Raise funds dedicated for investment in women-led technology-based enterprises in our region.
  2. Attract more women, and others, into the early-stage investment arena, by introducing them to the innovative enterprises and by providing them a steady stream of information and opportunities to learn more about the world of angel investment, as well as updates about the companies funded through this effort.

Our region needs to catalyze more women investors, and more women entrepreneurs, not simply to reach those already in action. AWE Ventures—Powered by Ben Franklin is designed to help increase both.

Donation-driven pools have emerged as an alternative way to kickstart investment programs. Such new approaches to attract new sources of private capital to emerging enterprises are being explored throughout the nonprofit space, not to establish “donor cultures,” but to increase flow of capital by all means available.

Catalyzing investment from organizations, corporations and individuals who support women entrepreneurs and women entrepreneurship has been a shared goal of AWE and Ben Franklin.

In addition to the dollars raised through the donations to the pool, and the $250,000 committed to this challenge by Ben Franklin, every investment made through this partnership requires at least an equivalent level of investment from outside sources, including angels.

And, consistent with our evergreen investment model, returns from the investments made by AWE Ventures will go back into the pool. Neither AWE nor Ben Franklin will collect fees from the dollars raised for this partnership.

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The partnership has other benefits, too:

  1. It expands the network of individuals who may be very suited to provide advice and mentoring to its portfolio of entrepreneurs.
  2. It creates an opportunity for individuals new to the angel world to connect and socialize without making a hard investment commitment.
  3. It leverages AWE’s ongoing programming in support of women-owned and led enterprises and Ben’s investment capital, infrastructure, support resources and networks.
  4. It strengthens a long-standing partnership between AWE and Ben Franklin and their joint commitment to promote and encourage entrepreneurship and investment from among women in our region.

Many across our region, including AWE, Ben Franklin and this publication, are dedicated to growing our region as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. Great initiatives are being announced almost daily. Some will work; some will not.

While we all have different opinions about any effort, we should strive to celebrate the effort and express concerns in a constructive fashion.

Now, I urge everyone to donate here and help us meet our fundraising goal, and in return expect opportunities to learn more about angel investing and the new companies created.

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