A Groundbreaking Funding Platform for
When it comes to scaling businesses into the millions and billions of dollars, most of those who do rely on a little thing called venture capital. All over the world, firms are set up with the sole purpose of seeding new ideas and taking companies to the next level, in exchange for a percentage of ownership.
It’s so exciting to realize there’s all this money being funneled into entrepreneurship. And while you don’t have to be a trust fund baby to get access…it does help to be a man. Historically 90% of investment money winds up in male hands—but rest assured that’s quickly changing.
Following the election, like many people I was looking for more ways to support the change I want to see in the world. For me, that always comes back to empowering women, and I felt called to expand my reach beyond Divine Living and actually invest in the businesses that will allow more of us rise to power and influence.
I quickly found AllBright, the world’s first fund devoted exclusively to investing in the most outstanding female-led startups and businesses. Founded in London by two inspiring and successful women, AllBright has nearly 200 companies in their pipeline and sources funds from a wide global network of angels, which I’m delighted to be joining this year.
Divine Living was eager to find out more about this promising new platform and bring all of you into the conversation. Whether you too are ready to invest in a brighter future for women, or have been thinking about how to bankroll your own big dreams, read our interview with founders Debbie Wosskow and Anna Jones below and start making moves.
What were you each doing prior to founding AllBright?
ANNA: Our backstories are actually very different. I have spent my career in the corporate world working in communications and media companies. For the past five years, I have been with Hearst Magazines UK, leading a team of 900 people. Hearst publishes some of the UK’s most popular media brands including Elle, Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar and Red.
DEBBIE: My career is on the other end of the spectrum. I am an entrepreneur and build and scale companies for a living. I launched my first company, Mantra, a marketing consultancy, at age 25 and sold it a few years later. In 2011, I founded a sharing economy company, Love Home Swap, where I currently sit as the CEO. I’ve spent the past five years growing the business to become the world’s largest home swapping platform.
ANNA: Both Debbie and I also sit on a number of business advisory boards and were introduced by a mutual friend. We got along very well and, although our backgrounds are very different, we both move fast and have a similar approach to business. We also share a common mission to use our experience to help empower British women. So now, I have stepped down as CEO of Hearst UK, and will be leaving Hearst in February to focus on AllBright.
What inspired you to start a funding platform focused on female-led businesses?
DEBBIE: There is a global funding gap between female-led and male-led businesses that needs to be addressed. Research shows that, at present, only 10% of global venture funds are directed at female-led companies. We have launched AllBright to close this gap by providing finance and support to women in business.
ANNA: We want to empower women to start and scale their own businesses. We are inspired to make the UK the best place in the world to be a female entrepreneur, and we’ll keep pushing until that happens.
Aside from being focused on women, what makes your platform—from the way you raise money to how you allocate funds—unique?
ANNA: Most of the female founders we speak to say they lack access to many of the resources and networks needed to scale their business. So, we’ve created a unique business model that combines an angel network with a crowdfunding platform and access to supporting services via an academy.
DEBBIE: The model directly addresses the pain points female founders have mentioned to us. The angel network and crowdfunding platform will provide financial support and the academy will offer practical and online guidance, giving female entrepreneurs the information and tools necessary to grow.
How did you go about building your network of investors? What’s special about the group?
ANNA: The AllBright Angel Network is a community of experienced individuals, both men and women, who have invested their personal capital into the AllBright investment fund and are drawn from a wide range of sectors.
DEBBIE: What’s special about the group is that we are all motivated to open the door for female entrepreneurs, support them and drive change.
What kinds of businesses are more likely to get funding from your platform?
ANNA: We don’t favor businesses in specific sectors or at specific stages. We are simply eager to unearth and work with those who see the world differently, who break the mold and want to drive change and growth.
How exactly does investment money through your platform work?
DEBBIE: Female-led businesses that join AllBright are able to access finance in two ways; either via the AllBright fund or via the Angel Crowd platform or in some cases from both. Our investment team will work with the company to discern and agree on the best approach. All investments are tailored to individual companies and depend on a number of factors such as size and lifecycle. Our investments will range from seed to late stage funding.
Are there any elements of the pitch process you wish startup founders would spend more or less time on?
ANNA: We’re interested in working with outstanding founders with clearly defined ideas. For us, it’s important that the founders spend time truly understanding who they are targeting, how their idea is different and why it is going to drive change and deliver value.
DEBBIE: Practice your pitch before entering the room to ensure it flows and you deliver in a clear, calm and compelling manner.
Talk to us about the academy portion of your program. How does this build confidence for investors and also ensure successful start-up growth?
ANNA: We understand that for businesses to scale and thrive, they need the confidence that comes from having the right network, and access to the relevant skills, knowledge and people.
DEBBIE: AllBright’s Academy has been set-up to provide learning and resources for the spectrum of founders from entrepreneurs with an early idea to those with existing businesses who are scaling up or branching out. Our team of experts comprises people who have built businesses across diverse industries and can offer their experience, knowledge and insights to a range of business leaders.
What advice would you like to share with all the women out there who dream of starting their own company?
DEBBIE: Smile. Be confident. Go for it.
ANNA: Women have the potential to add billions to the economy. In fact, research shows that female founders deliver 35% higher ROI than their male counterparts. Dream big, do you homework and come talk to us.