The Indian startup ecosystem has a long way to go in terms of gender equality. Women entrepreneurs comprise only 13.76% of the total entrepreneurs in the country, while solo women founders run less than 6% of the startups. In contrast, solo men run over 55% of the startups.
These numbers depict an even grimmer picture of women's participation as investors. Currently, there are only about 300 to 400 women participating as angel investors, accounting for just 1.5 percent of the 26,500 investors in the country.
To actively address this deep gender disparity, LetsVenture has introduced India's first women-focused cohort learning program on angel investing called the Women Investor Network (WIN).
WIN: A Catalyst for Change
Since the start of the first WIN cohort on June 11, 2021, the program has resulted in tangible changes that enable more women to engage in angel investing.
Across five cohorts of WIN, 134 participants have signed over 200 deals, amounting to a total investment of Rs 7.5 crore as angel investors. Of these participants, approximately 52 percent of women wrote their first cheques in early-stage startups through LetsVenture, while 34 percent of them wrote two or more cheques.
As an online program spanning three weeks, WIN participants gain a comprehensive and holistic understanding of angel investing through real-world insights and hands-on experience, covering everything from evaluating startup deals to allocating assets in the private market.
However, building an inclusive angel investing ecosystem requires more than just training programs. That is why WIN also continues to thrive as a community of women angel investors, providing regular and exclusive deals, as well as online sessions with industry practitioners, successful investors, and experienced entrepreneurs.
We hope to continue creating a supportive network that fosters networking opportunities, collaboration, and mentorship.
Here are the stories of three WIN members who are playing to their strengths and enjoying the ride as angel investors:
Riddhi Vyas Shah
An active investor in early-stage startups, Riddhi first learnt the foundation of angel investing as well as the more nuanced skills by tuning online on WIN from Hyderabad.
With rich professional experience working on HealthCare Information Systems across multiple hospital and clinics systems in the US, Riddhi has a keen eye for future-ready products and agile founders in deeptech, healthtech, fintech and cleantech sectors. Mocero Health, Khatabook, BluSmart Mobility, and Prescinto, are some of the startups from her portfolio as an angel investor.
Jyoti Rai is an angel investor, the business advisor at Indorient Financial Services and the India Lead for 100 Women in Finance, the largest global network of women in financial markets.
Jyoti comes with more than two decades of experience across companies like Citibank, Nippon AMC, Thomson Reuters, SBI, and Edelweiss, among others, where she is credited with launching several financial services throughout her career.
Entering the world of private market investing through WIN, she explores sectors such as AI, fintech, data science, healthtech, and EV as an angel investor.
Neha is the Managing Partner at MeritX Ventures, a cross-border tech-focused venture studio supporting startups with investor readiness and fundraising. She is also an active angel investor, internationally acclaimed startup mentor and on the advisory board of early-stage tech startups. Her previous experience includes being a banker and strategy consultant with KPMG, Deloitte and Axis Bank.
She is also a visiting professor at various business schools including her alma mater, the LSE India affiliate center. Neha is passionate about promoting women entrepreneurship, especially in Tech.
LetsVenture remains committed to expanding and strengthening WIN, ensuring that more women have the opportunity to participate and thrive as angel investors. At the same time, we believe the success of WIN serves as a blueprint for other organizations and platforms to adopt similar initiatives to foster inclusivity and diversity in the startup and investment landscape.