Atlantic Canada is getting a new regional angel group.

The newly formed Atlantic Women’s Angel Fund was inspired partly by managing partner Andrea King’s experience on the board of the non-profit Atlantic Women’s Venture Foundation, which was created by the all-woman venture capital fund Sandpiper Ventures to support female founders whose companies are not yet ready to raise VC funding.

“One of the things that just screamed so loudly was that the region really needs an angel fund to support all of these startups in the region,” said King, who is also a board member of the Women’s Venture Foundation.

She is also head of government relations and strategic partnerships at Verafin, which became the most valuable startup in Atlantic Canadian history when it was sold to Nasdaq for US$2.8 billion in 2020.

The angel fund's other three managing partners are Laurie MacKeigan, president of Backman Vidcom, which sells audiovisual design & integration services, Propel CEO Kathryn Lockhart and Lauren Ledwell, who has helped run innovative projects at a raft of large organizations like RBC and Creative Destruction Lab.

Several limited partners at Sandpiper Ventures are also volunteering their time with the Women’s Angel Fund.

King added that the fund is associated with the Women’s Equity Lab, which operates across North America and shares resources and expertise with other female entrepreneurs looking to move into angel investing.

The creation of the new angel group reflects a national trend of more women investing in startups. In July, the National Angel Capital Organization reported a nearly 60 percent increase in the number of female angel investors in the country compared to 2019, with women now comprising about 27 percent of angel investors.

The Women’s Angel Fund will also help address an ongoing concern we have raised at Entrevestor: that Atlantic Canada’s early-stage funding ecosystem might not be adequate to make up for the previous lack of a regional angel network.

The First Angel Network had previously filled that role, but it shut down in 2019.

Gerry Pond’s East Valley Ventures makes angel investments mainly in New Brunswick and Cape Breton Capital Group recently opened its door in northern Nova Scotia.

The Atlantic Women’s Angel Fund, though, will be open to startups from anywhere in Atlantic Canada and will be sector agnostic.

The fund is currently worth about $150,000, with 30 investors contributing $5,000 each. Once the first fund is depleted, King said in an email her group will start a second fund, with the option for new investors to join.

Each investment made by the fund will be for between $25,000 and $50,000, for three to six portfolio companies in total.

“We started talking to people — different women who might want to invest — in September and got so much interest right away,” said King. “We had in-person events in each of the provinces.

“I hosted an event at TechNL … and we had about 35 women who were interested in investing in the angel fund, and then we replicated that across the other provinces. So we had a lot of interest from women who wanted to participate in the fund.”