San Antonio’s female entrepreneurs now have additional avenues for funding, thanks to a new angel investor network expanding into the city.
Beam, a nonprofit aiming to help women who want to scale their companies, is part of a larger venture into San Antonio announced last month by Notley, an Austin-based umbrella organization for market-driven social change.
Notley has placed two staffers in the city as well. One of them, Director of Development Erin Huddleston, said they plan to do in-person programming to develop connections and that they have already held one virtual event in the city.
According to the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, the share of businesses owned by women has grown in recent years and now represents 4 out of every 10 businesses in the United States, with roughly half owned by women of color. But just 7% of all venture funds go to women-owned startups, according to a report from Fundera, a financial firm offering services to small businesses.
“Texas could use a thousand more Beam networks,” said Jill Vassar, one of Beam’s angel investors. “The need is endless. Women entrepreneurs have just as many good ideas and have just as much experience.”
Vassar said that in the investing world, women are often subject to questions about their family life and how it might impact their entrepreneurship – a line of questioning Vassar strongly condemned as sexist.
In return for the membership fee she pays Beam, Vassar has access to a steady stream of investment deals to consider, monthly educational opportunities, and networking and mentoring with other members, she said.
In the first round of startups Vassar said she was offered, there were five companies. She looked more closely at two and ultimately invested in one – a luxury hair salon in Dallas geared toward highly textured hair, servicing clients whom most high-end salons do not cater to.
Since its founding in September, Beam has channeled more than $1 million in funding from dozens of investors toward 11 companies, seven of which are owned by women of color. The funded companies include a software developer creating platforms for food companies, a beauty product maker, and a job site management firm that helps organizations meet COVID guidelines and other workplace safety standards.
Huddleston emphasized that companies do not need to be a member of Beam to apply for a funding round.
Beam’s incoming CEO and executive director, Leigh Christie, set to take over this month, said in a prepared statement that the nonprofit’s expansion into the city “highlights our commitment to helping women founders in San Antonio and increasing access to capital for women founders across Texas.”
Alongside Beam, Notley is bringing to San Antonio its two-year fellowship program aimed at developing the leadership of entrepreneurs interested in social impact work.
Notley for the last three years has also run its Philanthropitch competition in San Antonio, where nonprofits have access to training and funding.
Notley is backed by San Antonio’s Lew Moorman, co-founder of the Scaleworks technology investment firm and a former Rackspace executive, as well as the 80/20 Foundation and The Tobin Endowment.
The 80/20 Foundation and The Tobin Endowment are financial supporters of the San Antonio Report. For a full list of business and nonprofit members, click here. Lew Moorman is a member of the San Antonio Report community advisory board. Find more information about the board here.