Anna Pearson is an angel and seed investor passionate about the importance of investing in female founders. As a successful businesswoman and world traveler, Anna understands the unique challenges that female founders face in the male-dominated startup world. Through her commitment to investing in female-led startups, Anna has become a strong advocate for female founders and entrepreneurs all over the world. In this blog post, we explore the importance of investing in female founders with Anna Pearson.
1: Anna, tell us about your career as an angel &seed Investor funding female founders!
How did you get into the world of investment?
I started 'Harriet' after spending the last seven years investing in female founded companies and
identified a need for greater support for founders as they grow their companies and raise funds.
Prior to this I served as a member of 'The Ladies Investment Club' and a 'Venture Partner' at 'Her
Capital', responsible for deal sourcing and deal structuring.
Prior to my investment work I was the General Manager for Plexus Engage in Australia and the company’s Head of People/Talent. I started my career as a lawyer in Australia and London before moving into commercial roles as an early pioneer of alternative legal service providers. I co-founded Axiom’s business in the UK building and developing the company over eight years in London and three years in Singapore.
2: What advice do you have for female led startups looking for their first stage of investment?
While securing funding is undoubtedly a crucial aspect of growing a business, I believe that founders
should always take a step back and ask themselves a more fundamental question before pursuing
investment: why do you want or need investment and what type of investment are you looking for?
While venture capital is often the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to funding, I think
many companies approach VCs too early in their development. Although there are early stage VCs,
most VCs are geared toward making investments from US$1million or even US$2million and larger.
Something I always tell the founders I work with is you have to do your homework. You need to
identify funding sources that are a good match for your business, both in terms of industry and the
size of your company. This can take some time, so I recommend looking for communities such as
'Connecting Harriet' (our platform for female founders) or tapping into personal connections to test
your investment thesis and gather information about potential investors you may be considering
approaching. By doing research and reaching out to your community for advice, you can increase
your chances of finding the right funding and investors for your business and save yourself time in
the long run.
3: What is life like in Singapore? Are you from there or moved to live the expat life?
This year marks my 10th year living in Singapore. I spent 9 years in the UK before that and I’m
originally from Australia. Singapore is a great place to work and live, especially with a young family.
Professionally, I also founded 'Harriet' in Singapore, it’s a great market for start-ups with global
connectivity meaning we attract companies from all over the world to our platform.
4: Where have you traveled to that you loved and why?
I don’t have a favourite country or place. I have been lucky enough to live and work all over the world. This is an incredible privilege and regardless of where I go I always try to remember that.
5: You have extensive experience with global legal innovation! Tell us about this…
I discovered early on after training and practicing as a lawyer that I had a particular interest in market
disruption and as a young lawyer I was incredibly lucky to meet the founders of Axiom. They gave
me the opportunity to transition to a commercial role. The next decade, I have always said, was a
working MBA for me! I learnt everything there is to know about running and developing a successful
business from some exceptional founders and leaders within the company. I also learnt an awful lot
about different industries by selling our services to in-house clients and global corporations all over
6: What key tips do you have for startups who are striving for success?
Have a go and keep going! I see so many people overthinking their journey or being too scared to
take the plunge. There is no right time though, the worst mistake people make is waiting for
‘something’ to happen. I genuinely believe that your own grit and determination is what will drive
momentum in the early stages of growth for a start-up.
7: You have served as a member of 'The Ladies Investment Club' and a Venture Partner at Her
Capital! Amazing - tell us more...
My business partner Tanya Rolfe ran both organisations, so it was great for us as friends to work
together and continue to work together today. All organisations including 'Harriet' have always had
the same thesis - to drive more funding to women.
8: What was life like as a female lawyer? What challenges did you face in such a male dominant
I greatly enjoyed my time as a lawyer - I never thought of myself as a female lawyer and personally I
never found the industry did either. I think there are many challenges for lawyers in their careers with competing pressures for their time given the hours and commitment often required to the job.
Although the same can be said of many professions, this burden falls on women more than men
(caring for children etc) but I found many lawyers both male and female who struggle in the
profession. It was indeed one of the reasons I joined Axiom as an early stage employee - Axiom was
a market disruptor offering lawyers a more compelling career alternative than working in large law
9: How do you cultivate a strong work/life balance?
I don’t believe in work/life balance - but I do believe in control. Being in control of your time allows
you to meet the sometimes ‘mythical promise’ so many strive for when we say work/life balance.
Also, different people have different needs and ideas about what constitutes work/life balance - so
it’s about giving people the ability to control their time and therefore their lives. If you hire great
people, in my experience they will always get the job done. Giving myself and my employees the
ability to control their time throughout my career - whether that’s outside hobbies/interests/family/sport always makes people more productive at the end of the day.
10: Lastly, tell us about your business you have co - founded - Harriet !
The impact 'Harriet' is trying to make is clear and urgent- we want to increase the flow of funding to
female founders. All investors know that female founders raised just 3% of VC funding in 2021.
However, very few seem to know what to do or how to create the change we need to see within the
industry. Ultimately for diverse founders and startups to address the world's biggest problems, that has to change. Female entrepreneurs open just below 40% of all businesses and are 51% of the world’s population. These three stats alone present an arbitrage opportunity for investment because it cannot be true that 97% of entrepreneurial talent resides within 49% of the population (men)! According to BCG, women founders return more than double that of male founders to their investors. Women are more likely to build businesses that are better for our planet and our people. We want to support that because the world needs better businesses and our children, especially our daughters, deserve better. If we want this data to change then we need to do something different, to rip up the
traditional way founders obtain capital and to rewrite the story.
At 'Harriet', we are committed to creating real change by disrupting the traditional methods of funding and supporting female-led businesses and we have two platforms designed to achieve this: 'Connecting Harriet', an online platform and community for female founders with connectivity, service providers and know-how suited to female founders;
and 'Funding Harriet', a service platform that helps female founders secure the capital they need to grow their business.
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