By guest authors Irina Patterson and Candice Arnold
This is the thirty-fourth interview in our series on financing for entrepreneurs. I am talking to Kindra Tatarsky, director of operations at Golden Seeds, a network of angel investors dedicated to investing in early stage companies founded and/or led by women. Golden Seeds has more than 150 accredited investors, with locations in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and San Francisco.
Irina: Hi, Kindra. Let’s start briefly with your personal background and how you arrived at this point in your life.
Kindra: I started my career on Wall Street, on the sales side, following consumer companies. After 20 years of doing that, I started doing private investing in early 2000 and did some private investments on my own and also with an old colleague. We were doing a fundless fund, investing in early-stage consumer companies.
In mid-2008, I met Stephanie [Hanbury-Brown, a managing director at GS] and really liked the opportunity to continue doing deal screening and deal flow analysis, but on a broader basis, not just doing consumer companies. So that’s how I came to be at Golden Seeds.
Irina: What is Golden Seeds? Is it a network of angels, or is it a fund?
Kindra: Golden Seeds is an angel investment group that is focused on investing in companies that are founded by or led by women.
We run a dual process. It’s called an institutionalized group of individuals, so we’re highly process oriented. We have clear structures in which our individuals operate, see deals, invest in deals and conduct due diligence. So, they can invest as individuals. We also have a fund that invests alongside our investors.
Irina: When individual angels invest, are they private investors investing their own money?
Kindra: For the most part. Some of our members have funds or they run family offices.
Irina: How big is Golden Seeds’s fund and what is its name?
Kindra: It’s Golden Seeds Fund One, and that is $3.8 million. We currently have 13 investments in that. We’ll probably be able to [do] a couple more investments. Our second fund we’re in the process of fundraising for right now. It will be called Golden Seeds Fund Two.
Irina: How long has Golden Seeds Fund One been in operation?
Kindra: It closed in 2008.
Irina: Do you ever invest in companies run by men?
Kindra: We like to see a woman in a senior level position, so CAO, CFO, COO, or CEO. I would say over 80% of our companies are female CEOs.
Irina: Do you have any geographical focus?
Kindra: No. We’re nationwide. We have four locations, on each in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.
Our forums are there to cultivate deal flow and build relationships and syndication partnerships. And, obviously, to gather local angels so they have a local forum. But every member of our group has an opportunity to invest in every deal that comes through our network. So, even a San Francisco member can invest in a New York deal, can invest in a Boston deal and vice versa. The way we operate is the companies present to the most local forum first and gain support locally, then they are introduced to our other forums. So, we run one due diligence process then all the groups invest at the same time.
Irina: What if you get an application from somebody who is outside of these four regions?
Kindra: Well, typically, we’ll bring them to New York because it is the largest forum, but if they’re near the West Coast, we’ll bring them to San Francisco, and then I would say Colorado is the cut-off. Sometimes we’ll have them come to the West Coast, sometimes we’ll have them come to the East Coast, depending on the level of expertise in the groups and the company itself.
Irina: So, they don’t have to be based in one of those four areas to be considered?
Kindra: No, but what we do like to see is that the company has garnered local support. So, whether that’s through local angels or a local institutional group, we think it’s important for companies at this stage to have some local support financially.
Irina: For example, I’m based in Miami, so if a South Florida company comes to you, you will say, “Did you go to any local organizations for support?” Right?
Kindra: Exactly. We have a good example of that. We just closed on a deal for over $1 million, but they had had some local investor support before they came to us. They had had some prior investment. You know, it might be seed stage; it doesn’t have to be series A.