The Michigan Angel Fund (MAF) is helping four women-founded companies move to the next level.
The for-profit, professionally managed equity fund is supported by Ann Arbor SPARK and concentrates on early-stage, capital-efficient, Michigan-based businesses.
Skip Simms, managing partner of MAF and senior vice president of Ann Arbor SPARK, says that while the four investments were purely coincidental, they can be viewed as a marker of a growing trend of women-led companies.
He says the trend is "not hard and fast," but it could be partly the result of a general cultural shift over the past decade.
He says outcomes of that shift have included more focus, awareness, and interest in both women- and minority-led companies at all levels, not just startups.
"And overall, there are more women-led companies in the pipeline than ever before," Simms says.
He says MAF has always considered companies led by women.
"We don’t have any bias as to who the leader of a company is, whether they are male or female, white or minority," he says. "We are just looking for smart people, good leaders who are passionate about what they are doing, with game-changing products, services, and technology."
MAF decided that Kimberly Gamez fit that bill. In 2017, her company Gamez International became the first woman-led enterprise to receive MAF funding.
Gamez created a crowdfunding platform called Mi Padrino that helps people create, plan, and share Hispanic celebrations.
The three other companies MAF funded are Geo Ticket Portals, HTMA Holdings, and Shoptelligence. All were added to the MAF portfolio in 2018.
Geo Ticket Portals, headed by Deb Fellows, is known for GeoTix. It’s an online platform geared toward entertainment venues who want to localize event ticket sales for their audiences.
Kathleen Craig is the founder of HTMA Holdings. Her product, Plinqit, is a mobile app that allows financial institutions to help their customers realize their savings goals.
Co-founded by Laura Khoury, Shoptelligence offers an artificial intelligence-powered platform that helps home décor and apparel retailers build ensembles for their online shoppers.
Jaishree Drepaul-Bruder is a freelance writer and editor currently in based in Ann Arbor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by Doug Coombe.