Who’s in the “Investors’ Circle”?

By Rosie Sharp, Undergraduate Fellow

Over the last few weeks, I’ve discovered IC’s secret ingredient: its’ members. As a socially conscious network, IC’s main strength is in the diversity and expertise of those who add value to the circle. So, who are angel investors typically, and what makes our members different?

Not just anyone can be an angel investor, it takes a certain determination and a high level of expertise. Angels must be classified as “accredited investors,” meaning they fit the net worth and/or income requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission. These requirements attempt to protect the general public from being drawn into ambiguous investments. Consequently, angels have typically had highly successful careers in many different industries, but seem to come largely from the financial sector. They have amassed a wealth of knowledge, capital, connections, and business expertise, which is why they are fit to guide new companies with investment and counsel. They usually know their way around a financial statement, too.

So, who are our angels? With over 200 members in 26 states and four countries, IC’s community includes individuals, venture capitalists, foundation officers, and family officer representatives, who are looking to do good in the world. Because of our unique mission, IC draws a diverse crowd of investors, many of whom have backgrounds and experience that differ from the typical angel. IC also has a very high percentage of female angels, comprising 28% of our membership. Past ACA data suggests that most angel networks boast only 10% female constituency. IC’s members have been Founders, CEOs, Partners, Chairs, Board Directors, academics, etc. Some have started social ventures themselves and are active in the SRI space, others are new to ethical investing and are looking to align their money and their morals. Regardless of their background, all are intelligent and ambitious, and are united by their motivation to do good.

The most unique characteristic of IC’s membership is passion. IC members care about social and environmental change enough to delve into the risky world of angel investing in order to promote these causes, and this is what binds IC and keeps the network thriving. This buzz has been created and cultivated over the last 18 years, and is progressing only because of the commitment of its members to making a positive impact.

Working in this space has definitely changed my perception of who angels are and what values they represent. IC has the ability to bring together investors from all ends of the spectrum, from the more traditional financial side to the uniquely innovative environmental and social sectors. It’s now apparent that not all investors wear a suit and tie and come from wall street.

With our Spring 2010 venture fair coming up in April, I look forwards to meeting some of these outstanding people and learning how they are changing the landscape of impact investing.



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