Organizations are only as good as the people around them: Recap of 10th Annual Golden Seeds Summit

By Loretta McCarthy, managing partner, Golden Seeds

We recently hosted our 10th Annual Golden Seeds Summit in New York City, celebrating 13 years of investing in women-led businesses. This event takes place over several days at the start of each year, when our members and companies come together to focus on the importance of the work we’re doing together — funding some of the most promising women entrepreneurs and business leaders in the nation.

Angel investment works best when the parties involved know and trust each other. With that in mind, Golden Seeds hosts this gathering as an opportunity for members and entrepreneurs to collaborate, create connections and experience the energy and power that comes from a group of mission-driven people. There is a multiplying effect to that energy, which bears fruit long after the Summit ends each year — sometimes in unpredictable ways.

Women on the rise

When Golden Seeds began in 2005, women entrepreneurs represented just 3 percent (about 1,500) of the 48,000 U.S. companies that received funding from angel investors in that year.

In 2016, that number was 22 percent (about 14,000) of 64,000 funded companies. That represents a nine-fold increase in the percentage of funded women entrepreneurs over those 12 years.

Women angel investors are now an integral part of our industry, using their capital, skills and networks to contribute to the success of start-up companies. In 2005, women angels were 5 percent (or 11,000) of the self-identified angel investors in the US. In 2016, women were 26 percent (approximately 78,000) of the total, a seven-fold increase of women angels over these years.

Last year, Golden Seeds surpassed $100 million in total investments in women-led companies since our launch. During this time, we have had over 650 investors — approximately 80 percent women and 20 percent men.

The Summit

This year, we had more than 160 people in attendance from all over the country — 125 members, as well as entrepreneurs from 28 of our funded companies. Our focus was on providing updates on Golden Seeds activities and getting updates from the companies and determining how we can continue to support their success. The companies in attendance this year — including, among many others, WorkTruck Solutions, Oculogica, Cognition Therapeutics, Crimson Hexagon and BoardBookit — contribute to the collective momentum that powers Golden Seeds’ work.

As Susan Catalano, founder and chief scientific officer of Cognition Therapeutics

As Susan Catalano (left), founder and chief scientific officer of Cognition Therapeutics, put it:

“The Golden Seeds Summit always has the practical benefits of meeting with investors, but also the emotional lift of being with so many other entrepreneurs in the Golden Seeds network.”

Women entrepreneurs unlocking economic growth

Annette Kimmitt of EY kicked off the Summit with her keynote. Annette is a recognized leader in empowering women and supporting entrepreneurship. As EY global growth markets leader, she has global responsibility for the organization’s integrated go-to-market and client service strategies. In 2012 she co-founded Scale Investors, Australia’s first seed capital organization focused on equipping Australian women with education and deal flow opportunities to invest in high-growth, female-led businesses at an early stage in their development. She’s a true icon in the industry.

The keynote at the 10th annual Golden Seeds Summit last month in New York

As Annette said, what we’re seeing in the market today is that innovation is a critical driver of economic growth and job creation. And it’s clear that women entrepreneurs, when empowered with the right support and resources, are leading the way.

The people, behaviors and culture that drive growth

During her keynote, Annette shared with attendees the fundamentals companies need to focus on to secure long-term accelerated growth — which she deems the “7 Drivers of Growth.”

Annette Kimmitt (second from right) with Golden Seeds managing partners (from left) Loretta McCarthy, Jo Ann Corkran and Peggy Wallace.
“Any organization is only as good as the people around them.” — Annette Kimmett

Annette highlighted the importance of reviewing digital technology strategies, taking a long-term view on funding, and not shying away from risk, but learning how to manage it effectively. She also mentioned the importance of surrounding oneself with the right network.

Our “Early-stage Investing” panel speakers (from left) Aaron Holiday of 645 Ventures, Ed Zimmerman of Lowenstein Sandler, Lisa Wu of Norwest Venture partners and Mary McCaffrey of Golden Seeds.

We embrace that idea.

To foster a connected community, Golden Seeds sets aside an entire day of the Summit for members to attend entrepreneur-led sessions focused on what’s new and next for the companies we’ve funded, as well as another full day for panels and talks ranging in topics from early-stage investing and building partnerships, to disruptive technologies.

Members of Golden Seeds’ (from left) from Atlanta, Susan and David Nethero, and from Dallas, Deborah Michel

Members left this year’s event with new knowledge and resources, and arrived back to their local chapters eager to share all they learned.

As Golden Seed member Bill Whitaker said of Summit activities:

“Working on a due diligence team together is a sure way of making lasting friends from throughout the country.”

To learn more about Golden Seeds membership, visit

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